Flat Hair Fixes: How to Give Your Fine Hair More Body

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The Best Shampoos, Products and Styling Tips for Limp Hair

Amazon and Getty Images/Hero Images

If you have naturally fine hair you may struggle with what is called, "Flat Hair Syndrome." To give your lifeless hair more body, you need the right haircut, the right products, and proper styling.

Tip No. 1: Cut Your Hair Shorter

The longer thin, fine hair gets, the flatter it lays. It's just a sad fact of physics. The shorter the hair, the more body it will have. Even just cutting your hair a couple of inches shorter may help, but if you want the most body for your fine hair, keep your hair's length above the collarbone.

Here are some cut options we love for fine hair:

  • The long bob. Hair that falls between the chin and the shoulders is super trendy at the moment. The great thing about this hair length is that your hair just won't fall flat. The length creates the illusion of body. 
  • I love a swingy, shoulder-length cut with the back just a bit shorter than the front. Shoulder-length is a great length because it's not too long and not too short.
  • Short hair is always a great bet. Bobs and pixies work well with fine hair.

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To Layer or Not to Layer, That is the Question

Should you layer your hair?
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Layers have traditionally been considered a great way to add body to fine hair. They add both dimension and movement and are the reason you should get your hair professionally done rather than trying to cut it yourself.

But the trend lately with fine hair has been to move towards more one-length cuts. "A one-length cut makes hair look its thickest," says NYC hairstylist Garren in InStyle magazine. "Too many layers can look stringy."

"Keep your hair at a one-length shape. It will add strength and volume to your hair," says stylist Ted Gibson on the Stylelist Website. "If you put in a lot of layers, what ends up happening is that it has no shape."

If you do want layers or your stylist wants to add them, just be careful not to over-layer. Too many layers can leave you with a style that's frumpy, dated or worse — mullet-like. Make sure the longest layer hits at least to your ears.

Also, remember that thinning hair out is not the same as creating layers. Some women have fine hair but loads of it and may need their hair thinned out to get rid of some of the bulk. 

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How to Go Long Without Your Hair Going Flat

Hailey Baldwin
Anthony Harvey/ Getty Images; Rahav Segev/ Getty Images

If you absolutely, definitely want to keep your hair longer than your collarbone, then consider these tips:

Layers

If you have fine hair, but loads of it, a few layers will add body and movement. But if you have fine hair and not so much of it, the fewer layers the better. Ask your stylist to angle a few pieces around your face.

Bangs

Bangs give the illusion of fullness and can add body to your hair. Consider cutting side-swept bangs, fringe or blunt bangs.

Extensions

More and more women are opting for permanent extensions and clip-ins to add fullness and body to otherwise limp hair. Just make sure to find a reputable stylist who's experienced with extensions. Do keep in mind that extensions can damage your own hair, but women who try them say it's worth it.

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The Importance of a Good Shampoo

Courtesy of Kerastase

Many women use the wrong shampoo for their hair. As you likely well know, fine hair can look "oily" and can get this way after only one day.

If you have fine hair, stay away from creamy shampoos formulated for thick, coarse hair. Instead, opt for shampoos created to add volume and body. I love Kerastase's Volumactiv Shampoo, pictured here. I've used it for years. Buy it from Amazon.com.

You can get good shampoos at the drugstore, too.

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How to Shampoo Your Hair Correctly

Find out the best shampoo and conditioner for your hair type
Getty Images

I have a lot of hair, but it's fine. The roots get oily, but the ends don't need shampooing, just conditioning, so what to do, especially when my hair stylist begs me not to wash my hair every day and to condition more often?

Here's a trick I learned and love: wet hair and apply shampoo only to scalp and roots. Massage the shampoo into scalp, cleansing it thoroughly and not working it down to the ends. Apply conditioner on the bottom two-thirds of hair, staying away from the scalp. Rinse hair of the shampoo and conditioner. The shampoo will work its way down the hair, rinsing out the conditioner.

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Yes, You Can Use Conditioner, Just Do It Correctly

How to apply conditioner to fine hair
ONOKY/ Fabrice LEROUGE/ Getty Images

Since fine hair can be susceptible to knots and tangles, you should use a light (emphasis on "light") conditioner in the shower. I recommend you condition before you shampoo because sometimes conditioners can leave a residue on hair and the shampoo will take care of that.

Apply conditioner only on the bottom 2/3rds of hair. If you condition the scalp, you will weigh down flat hair even more. Been there, done that.

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Rinse With Apple Cider Vinegar

apple-cider-vinegar.jpg
Courtesy of Bragg

If you use hairspray, styling gel or mousse on a regular basis, your hair is likely suffering from product build-up. Product build-up is particularly bad for fine hair because it weighs down hair that already lacks body.

To naturally get rid of product build-up use an apple cider vinegar rinse every other week. Apple cider vinegar helps break down residue, adds body and will even help fight dandruff.

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Invest in the Correct Products

Bumble and Bumble Thickening Hairspray
Amazon.com

For fine hair that's gone flat, the key to bouncy, voluminous hair lies in the product.

Look for products labeled "volumizing" or "adds body." For best results, New York hairstylist Garren recommends massaging volumizing spray or lotion into the roots of partially dry hair. You can also spray your crown and then comb the product through with a wide-tooth comb. Just be careful not to overuse product, because too much can actually weigh hair down, rather than lift it.

Use creamy pomades and shine serums sparingly and never near the scalp or roots. If you need to use a pomade or serum to tame frizz, use the "palm method": put a pea- or dime-sized amount in the palm of your hand, rub palms together and then "palm" the product only on the areas that need it most.

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Don't Be Afraid of Mousse

mousse for fine hair
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If the last time you used mousse was in the 90s, don't worry, mousse has come a long way since then. Today's formulations will still thicken your hair without stiffening it. Use a golf-ball sized amount in your palm and work it through your hair from the roots down to the mid-shaft. It will plump up your strands while still leaving them soft.

You can find a great mousse at the drugstore.

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Why Dry Shampoo Can Change Your Life

Klorane Dry Shampoo With Nettle
Courtesy of Klorane

Today's dry shampoos are miracle workers when it comes to adding volume to hair that's too slick, too soft or too oily. Dry shampoo has been a staple in my beauty closet for years. Whenever I have oily hair days I spritz or sprinkle dry shampoo along my hairline, let it dry, then brush it out. Not only does it buy me a day or two between washings, but it soaks up oils and adds tons of body.

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Hair Color Actually Boosts Volume

Should you get foil highlights or balayage?
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I find my hair is at its thickest in the couple weeks after I get it colored. My colorist at Eva Scrivo Salon says it's because the dyes mess with the cuticle, plumping it up. (Or something like that). Anyway, it works, trust me.

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Yes, Your Hairbrush Matters

Getty Images

I like a metal vented round brush for my blow dries. The metal conducts heat, while the vents circulate it. Hairstylist Ted Gibson recommends round brushes with a mix of boar and nylon bristles. "The combination of the two smoothes and detangles, and creates volume," Gibson says in InStyle magazine.

When drying hair with a brush, pull hair up with the brush and blast heat underneath to add body. Finish the ends off by rounding under. You can also blow dry with a paddle brush and then end with the rounded brush.

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A Good Blowdry Can Last a Long Time

Woman preparing to blow dry her hair
PeopleImages.com/ Getty

If you've ever had a great blow-dry at the salon you know a good one can last 2-3 days, even on oily hair. You can actually give yourself a salon-quality blow dry as long as you have the right products and tools.

Here are my blow-dry tips:

  • Start by towel-drying hair until it's as dry as possible.
  • When it comes to fine hair, a "rough dry" is key. Remove the nozzle attachment to your dryer (it concentrates heat and can flatten hair) and blast the air all over the hair while roughening up the roots with your fingers. Bend over at the waist and blow dry your hair. This adds lift to the roots.
  • Once hair is about 50-75 percent dry, section it off and dry from underneath on up. Pull hair up towards the ceiling with your brush and shoot the hair up along the shaft. This also adds body. Put your nozzle back on — a diffuser also helps point the air in a specific direction.
  • Once hair is dry, blast your entire head with cool air. "This creates fullness and loosens up the blow-dry," according to hairstylist Nathaniel Hawkins in Allure magazine.

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Air Drying Can Add Volume

How to get beachy waves
Brand X Pictures/ Getty

Fine hair can be brittle hair, so the less time spent with the blow dryer, the better. This means letting hair air dry as much as possible. Blot hair dry with a towel after a shower and comb in a root booster or volumizing spray at the crown, then let hair air dry. You can roughen up hair at the crown or scrunch hair in the palm of your hands to give hair a natural beachy wave effect.

Once hair dries, you may find it falls flat within a few hours. Instead of applying more product, simply wet your fingers with water and massage your scalp and along the crown to reactivate the product you put in after you washed your hair.

You can also wash your hair at night and wake up with hair full of body, a la Heidi Klum: "Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, I don't even brush my hair," Klum says on the Website StyleList. "My trick is to wash my hair at night and fall asleep with my hair wet. Then I roll around in the pillow and I wake up and my hair looks perfectly messy."

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A Great Hairspray Tip

aerosel can
Adam Licht/ Getty Images

I love this trick I picked up from reading Allure a few years ago: to lift fine hair after it has been blow-dried, work hairspray along the crown with your fingers, massaging the spray into your roots at the crown until about an inch back of the head.

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Create Body With a Salt Spray

Bumble and Bumble Surf Spray
Amazon.com

Most women have some natural wave in their hair. To bring yours out, spritz damp hair with a salt spray you either buy (Bumble and Bumble makes a good one, buy it from Amazon.com) or you make yourself.

After you spritz hair, scrunch it with your hands as your hair air dries. 

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Velcro Rollers: The Secret to Bouncy Hair?

How to use Velcro rollers in hair
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Rollers are the secret to adding volume and body to hair, especially around the crown.

Huge, fat rollers are a stylist's best friend.

"Many hairstylists set their clients' hair in curlers no matter what style they're going for, from updos to long waves," says Garren in InStyle magazine. "They give the hair a lush fullness you can't get otherwise."

To use rollers, Garren recommends first rough-drying hair, then rolling 2-inch sections of hair from the ends all the way to the roots. Hair should be fully dry before you remove the rollers. Loosen the curl with your fingers. I like Conair's Self-Grip Hair Rollers (buy from Amazon.com).

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How to Properly Tease Hair

How to tease hair
Image Bank/ Getty Images

Nothing builds body in fine hair like a proper teasing job. When it comes to teasing, "be sure to fully remove the teeth of the rattail comb from your hair after each precise, downward stroke," says Dove hairstylist Mark Townsend in Allure magazine. "That way, you're actually building up the mass of hair, not just pushing it around."