Throughout history, thick, voluminous hair has been a sign of beauty, vitality and health. Unfortunately, thanks to one or more of a host of reasons, that’s not the reality that most of us wake up to each day.
The good news is that your current situation doesn’t have to hold you back from achieving thicker, fuller hair, and in some cases, minor changes can lead to big results.
Whether you’re looking to make a permanent lifestyle change or you need a quick fix, here are our tips for reducing hair loss, promoting growth and maximizing fullness.
Factors That Contribute to Thin or Limp Hair
Since hair grows on its own without any intentional input from us, taking hair production for granted is all too easy.
However, our bodies follow a detailed process for transporting and utilizing necessary nutrients to manufacture each strand of hair, and multiple factors have the potential to disrupt that delicate balance.
Your DNA determines most of your biological processes, and your unique genetic makeup heavily influences your hair type, growth rate and susceptibility to loss.
Female pattern baldness tends to run in families, so if your mother, aunt or grandmother experienced hair thinning, it’s more likely that you’ll follow suit.
As with almost any biological process, aging can cause your hair production to slow down as your circulatory system becomes less efficient at delivering the necessary nutrients to your follicles.
Since your body requires the proper materials to manufacture each hair strand, the health, strength and density of your hair depend greatly on the nutrients you consume daily.
If your diet is lacking in essential nutrients like protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, your hair is typically more likely to break, fall out or grow back at a slower pace.
Overzealous Heat Styling
Using hot tools can help you achieve the exact style you want and make your hair look great in the short term. However, repeated, prolonged exposure to high heat can damage your scalp and fry your hair strands, leaving you with brittle hair that is more prone to breakage or falling out.
Frequent Chemical Treatments
In much the same way that heat styling can leave scalp and hair damage in its wake, chemical treatments can also irritate your scalp and severely weaken your hair.
If it seems like hormones are to blame for almost every problem a woman faces, you’re not far from the truth. These chemicals act as messengers and triggers throughout your entire body, and hormonal fluctuations are commonly behind hair over- or underproduction.
Enhancing Your Hair’s Thickness and Fullness
Even though the various reasons behind thin hair can seem a little overwhelming, modern science has placed more effective strategies, treatments and products at your disposal than ever before.
Hair serves the important purposes of protection and heat retention. However, if necessary nutrients are in short supply, your body will quickly divert them to essential organs and systems rather than hair production.
Not only will consuming a healthy, balanced diet leave plenty of nutrients available for your hair, but your overall health will also benefit.
Increase protein. Protein is essential for almost every biological process, and hair production is no exception. Fortunately, protein is one of the easiest nutrients to obtain, and you have plenty of delicious sources to choose from.
- Lean meats and poultry
- Beans and legumes
- Milk, cottage cheese and yogurt
- Almonds and peanuts
- Pumpkin seeds
Consume vitamins and minerals that encourage keratin production. The protein keratin is the substance that makes up your hair strands. These vitamins and minerals are the basic building blocks your body needs to produce keratin.
- Panthenol (vitamin B5). Shiitake mushrooms, chicken, avocados and salmon are rich sources of panthenol.
- Zinc. Find it in lean red meats, cashews, legumes and hemp seeds.
- Iron. Add more chicken, lean red meat, dried apricots and leafy greens to your diet to increase your iron intake.
- Vitamin E. Wheat germ oil, almonds and sunflower seeds are all good sources of vitamin E.
- Copper. Consider including more liver, spirulina and cashews in your daily routine for sufficient copper levels.
Consider a supplement. While a varied diet of healthy, fresh foods is your best source of nutrients, you may need to take a supplement if you struggle to maintain a balanced diet or you have a deficiency in certain nutrients.
Schedule an appointment with your health care provider to talk over your questions, and make sure to follow their recommendations for your specific situation.
Just as your styling habits have the potential for causing harm, your hairstyling routine also has the power to boost volume, fullness and hair health.
Change your part. For instant gratification, try parting your hair in a different area than you normally do.
When your hair grows accustomed to lying in the same position day after day, it can lose volume over time. Moving your part to a different area challenges your hair to lie in a new position and leads to extra volume at the roots.
Tease your hair. While regular combing or brushing from the roots to the ends encourages your hair to lay flat and straight, teasing combs your hair towards the roots. This action roughs up the outer layer of the hair strands and causes them to stand away from your scalp.
While it is an effective way to create immediate volume, frequent teasing can be hard on your hair, so don’t use it as your exclusive method to achieve hair fullness.
Take a break from heat styling. Especially if you blow-dry daily, try out alternative hairstyles that give you a break from your dryer. For example, experiment with wearing part or all of your hair up for a couple of days a week, or use another interesting accessory like a headband.
Consider getting your hair cut. The simple fact is that longer hair is heavier and more susceptible to the effects of gravity, so a strategic haircut can lead to an immediate, lasting improvement in your hair’s volume.
Don’t worry: You don’t need to ask your stylist for a super-short pixie to reap the benefits of a haircut. Long layers are often a great solution for women who want to maintain length but still add volume. Your stylist should also be able to make helpful suggestions for your specific hair type.
While they won’t stimulate new or faster hair growth, using strategic hair products can instantly provide the illusion of fuller, thicker hair. Additionally, encouraging your scalp to increase hair production through your diet or other means can take time, and using targeted products can help make the wait more bearable.
Thickening shampoo. The goal of a thickening shampoo is to cause each hair strand to swell and occupy more space, thus causing a temporary boost to your hair’s fullness.
As we mentioned previously, keratin and panthenol are two main components of your hair, and most thickening shampoos contain a high concentration of both these elements. Panthenol causes the hair to increase in diameter by drawing moisture into the hair’s inner layer, and the protein helps fortify the outer layer, guard against damage and enhance shine.
Volume-enhancing styling products. Since some styling aids like pomades, creams and waxes mold your hair into a rigid style, they’re not a good choice for women looking to achieve a full, voluminous look.
Rather, look for products that offer soft hold and have a light texture. Mousses and some hairsprays hold your style gently in place without adding excess weight, and dry shampoo rubbed into your roots can provide additional lift.
Avoid heavy ingredients. Products that contain heavy ingredients like dimethicone or silicone can build up on your hair over time, leaving your strands weighed down and decimating volume at the crown.
Most of the time, products that contain these heavy ingredients are serums, conditioners or other moisturizing treatments. While adequate moisture is also necessary for healthy hair, use these treatments sparingly or look for lighter alternatives.
Clarifying shampoo. If you’ve already used products with ingredients that weigh your hair down, a clarifying shampoo can help you get a fresh start.
Look for a clarifying shampoo that contains the chemical exfoliator salicylic acid. This acid breaks down the leftover product and washes it away, so your hair can feel lighter and look fuller.
Not all solutions for getting thicker, fuller hair involve a salon or specialized products. If you prefer to go the natural route, try these ideas.
Castor oil. Although there isn’t any hard scientific data to back these claims up, castor oil has long been thought to help improve hair health, hasten the growing process and stimulate new hair production.
Containing a high concentration of the anti-inflammatory ricinoleic acid, castor oil can help keep your follicles healthy and working overtime to produce plentiful keratin.
Scalp massage. Since your bloodstream supplies your follicles with the nutrients they need for hair production, your circulatory system’s efficiency can have a significant impact on hair health and growth. One way to increase scalp blood circulation is through massage.
A few minutes of daily scalp massage can not only help promote hair growth, but it can also help your natural protective oil reach fragile hair ends to prevent breakage and reduce your overall stress levels. If that isn’t enough, scalp massage also feels great and doesn’t cost a penny.
No matter what your natural hair type or the specific situation you’re facing, getting thicker and fuller hair doesn’t have to remain just a dream.
With the help of a few simple tricks, you can protect your hair from breaking or falling out, encourage your existing hair to grow faster and promote new hair growth. In the meantime, clever styling techniques and products can help you pump up the volume of the hair you already have.
If your hair is thinning or you are losing your hair, it could be due to an underlying health issue. As always, you should see your doctor to get to the root cause of your health and hair problems.