No matter your hair type, you've likely dealt with a lack of volume at some point or another. Whether it's your hair is straight, your curls are weighed down, or you didn't have time to thoroughly wash your strands, lank locks tend to hit when one least expects them to, creating a need for volumizing hair products like shampoos and conditioners, leave-ins, and stylers.
But when I say volume, I don't mean the teased hair of the 1980s. Rather, subtly, natural-looking hair volume can make hair appear healthier and thicker, and can even add to the wearer's outfit.
"Volume in hair can help to enhance the overall silhouette of a look," agrees Aviva Jansen Perea, a celebrity, red carpet, and editorial hair stylist. "I would say most of the time, volume can be something that can add height, and overall make hair look thicker and healthier." On the other hand, she says, "If you are wearing something with large shoulders or an over emphasized skirt, maybe think about complementing the look with less volume in the hair."
But how do you achieve voluminous locks without resorting to potentially damaging methods like teasing? Below, Perea dishes on the best practices to keep your hair looking full and flouncy.
Enhancing Hair Volume
While weighed down, lifeless locks may seem easy to fix at first glance, in reality, bringing volume back to your hair can be somewhat challenging. This is because the issue can come from a number of sources, which means that the first step to combatting limp hair is uncovering its cause.
"So many factors can lead to thinning, limp hair," agrees Perea.
Below, she lists best practices for ensuring that your hair looks healthy and voluminous.
Take Care of Your Overall Health
As with any beauty woe, your hair's appearance begins with your internal health.
"Smoking and a poor diet can lead to an overall appearance of sad hair," says Perrea, which means a smoke-free lifestyle, healthy eating (protein and collagen are key), and plenty of hydration are the first step anyone should take to combat lackluster hair. For an extra boost, you can even consider hair vitamins, which are formulated to foster hair growth, retention, and thickness from within.
Use the Right Tools
Overall health is paramount to a healthy appearance, but there's still more to ensuring your hair is as voluminous as possible.
"As always, thinking about what wet products, hot tools, styling tools, and sleep prep is very important," advises Perrea. "Consider making sure that the shampoo and conditioner, post-shower wet styling products, heat protectants, the way you brush your hair out, the way you sleep, and how you tie your hair out of your face are all aligned with keeping your hair looking full and healthy and therefor leading to a more voluminous appearance." More specifically, she says, "I always encourage my celebrity clients to use light weight heat protectors, make sure to sleep with nonabrasive pillowcases, and use non breakage styling tools (i.e., be wary of elastics that can lead to breakage and consider a nylon covered hair pin)."
The way you use your styling tools matters as well. Perrea instructs, "Blow dry with your brush pulling straight up instead of horizontal or towards the floor, and let your hair cool before letting it drop from the brush. This will encourage style memory."
When you're building your ideal haircare collection, shampoos, conditioners, and creams aren't the only products you should look into. “Brushes matter,” Perrea insists. To enhance volume during your brush routine, she advises, “Straight out of the shower, you want to flip your hair over and brush the roots up.” When it comes to which brush you should use to maximize volume and minimize breakage, she says, “My favorite brush for this is the Sheila Stotts detangling brush, because it won’t put pressure on the hair at the root.”
Pros: expert-approved; minimizes breakage; gentle; durable
Cons: none found
There’s no such thing as a one sie fits all brush. Instead, different brushes are used for specific needs, styles, and hair types. For blowouts, Perrea loves the Spornette Mixed Bristle Round Brush. She explains, “The white bristles pick up the hair and the black boar bristles smooth the cuticle,” allowing for a smooth brushing experience and seamless finish. All in all, she says, “It’s a miracle brush.”
Pros: expert-approved; affordable
Cons: some users find the handle uncomfortable
Perrea created these gentle, effective, nylon-coated hair pins herself. When asked what inspired her, she explains, “Elastics add weight and can pull the hair and cause damage.” As a result, she now uses Day Rate Beauty’s nylon coated hair pins herself “because the smooth nylon doesn’t pull on the hair, but the super strong steel makes them hold any style.” The pins can also be a valuable addition to your daily hair routine. Perrea explains, “They can also be used as a heatless wave setter.”
Pros: expert-approved; cruelty free; come in different colors
Cons: none found
Customer Review: "These truly are the BEST pins. I have thick curly hair that is hard to put up with pins because they never hold or stay in place. The petite power pin and power pin are perfect! Easy to use, stay in place, and look super chic. I never write reviews but had to for this product because it really is that good." -Day Rate Beauty
Nothing kills hair volume or induces frizz quite like sleeping on the wrong fabric. Pillowcases made from cotton and polyester—or just about anything that isn’t satin or silk—can pull on the hair, ruin blowouts and curl definition, and cause friz and flyaways after just one night of sleep. Using a silk pillowcase or sleeping with a silk or satin hair wrap, however, can ensure that your hair remains defined, soft, and voluminous no matter how much you toss and turn.
Pros: works on all hair types; stays on head securely all night; Black-owned brand
Cons: none found
Use the Right Products
"Keeping your overall hair health in check will always lead to the look of voluminous hair, but you want to make sure you are using a volumizing shampoo and conditioner," says Perrea. Furthermore, she stipulates looking for "a volumizer that is light weight so that it won’t weigh down your hair."
In terms of what to avoid, she warns, "You want to avoid anything with heavy silicones or oil, as that will add to the weight of the hair and pull the styling work you did down."
This color-safe shampoo from Ouai is made to cleanse and hydrate hair of all types and curl patterns without weighing it down. Promising to “breathe life” into thin hair, it combats dryness, flatness, and lifelessness, adding bounce and volume while simultaneously creating a thickening effect on your overall mane. Formulated with strengthening ingredients like biotin, chia seed oil, and hydrolyzed keratin, it’s built to prevent split ends and breakage, too, so you can rest assured that your shampoo is enhancing both your look and your health.
Pros: subtle scent; cruelty-free; free of sulfates, SLS, and SLES; color-safe
Cons: small bottle
Customer Review: "Never in my life has my hair been so light and full of body. I have very short, straight, fine hair, and this shampoo makes my hair fluffy in the best way. Love, love, love this shampoo." -Sephora
This lightweight shampoo from Living Proof is made to cleanse hair and make it look full, bouncy, and shiny. A favorite of Beauty Editor Samantha Holender, it’s perfect for straight and wavy hair, and even works to combat breakage, heat damage, and thinning. Reviewers love it too, writing that it removes dirt, grease, and buildup without stripping hair of essential moisture or making it feel dry. This is thanks to its conscientious, vegan formula, which is free of silicones and sulfates.
Pros: editor-approved; vegan; free of silicones, sulfates, SLS, and SLES
Cons: not suitable for curly or natural hair
Customer Review: "I love the way my hair feels after using this product. Not only does it deliver on fullness as promised, but it feels so healthy and shiny afterward. The fragrance is so nice as well!" -Sephora
If you have thin or thinning hair, consider this shampoo from Kérastase. It works on all hair types and curl patterns, and effectively hydrates and detangles strands without weighing them down. Shine-enhancing and smoothing, it contains hyaluronic acid, which strengthens and thickens hair to prevent further breakage. Its ceramides also promote hydration and elasticity so that you can style without worrying about shedding. Finally, it’s safe to use on bleached and colored hair, and can even ameliorate damage from prolonged color treating.
Pros: works on all hair types; lightweight; hydrating
Cons: contains sulfates
Customer Review: "It’s light weight and yes, less is always more with this product but it works wonderfully to keep my hair both hydrated and lifted." -Sephora
This option from Latinx-owned brand Ceremonia is packed with clean, effective ingredients designed to strengthen and hydrate hair while enhancing volume. Its sustainably sourced Cupuaçu Butter, for instance, smooths hair and minimizes so you can enjoy all of the volume without any of the flyaways. Meanwhile, castor oil strengthens hair from the inside out and enhances shine. Finally, the sulfate-free formula uses plant based keratin sourced from peas and potatoes for a volumizing and strengthening effect.
Pros: clean; planet-positive; free of silicones, sulfates, SLS, and SLES
Cons: some users find it too rich
Customer Review: "I have a lot of very fine hair that gets oily really quickly when I use most hydrating shampoos/conditioners, and the weightless hydration shampoo/conditioner completely solved that for me. After about a month of use, my hair is fuller, styles more easily, and stays clean for longer. I don't feel like I have to use more of this product than I normally would with other products." -Sephora
“I’ve been using Phyto PhytoVolume Actif Volumizing Spray for decades. I start just about every hair style with this product,” Perrea says about this volumizing spray, which promises to hold the wearer’s hair style without leaving any buildup or grease. She continues, “It’s super lightweight, very brushable, and gives the perfect lift to the roots and puffs up the ends.” With ingredients like hydrolyzed wheat protein and rosemary leaf extract, you can also count on this formula to foster hair growth and overall scalp health.
Pros: expert-approved; contains natural ingredients like rosemary; strengthening; holds hair styles
Cons: small bottle
When it comes to styling hair that’s in serious need of some volume, Perrea says that the key is lightweight hair spray. “After doing all these steps to encourage volume, the last thing you want to do is top off the look with a hair spray that’s going to pull your look down,” she explains. It is no secret that L’Oreal Elnett is a tried-and-true hairspray that is brushable but strong!”
Pros: expert-approved; lightweight; affordable
Cons: contains silicones
Customer Review: "So grateful for this spray! I have fine hair that gets weighed down easily with other sprays. This spray is light but can really hold my style well. I cannot say enough about this hairspray other than I absolutely love it." -Ulta
"On wash days, my hair seems to go instantly flat, even after blow drying. The only way I can get some semblance of body is when I use this multitasking volume spray. It feels lightweight and doesn't leave any residue or tacky texture—just a nice, subtle bounce. It also works as a heat protectant and adds a pretty shine to my strands. Plus, it's made with a 100 percent clean formula, a major win in my book." -Brooke Knappenberger, Contributing Writer
Pros: editor-approved; doens't cause dryness; clean; heat protectant; cruelty-free
Cons: small bottle
Customer Review: "I like the product because my scalp is not dry and itchy." -Neuma
I’m a huge fan of Design Essentials’ Almond and Avocado line, which is formulated to revive curls and enhance volume so that your hair always looks as good as it does on wash day. This mousse in particular is lightweight and never makes my hair feel greasy. Plus, it washes out easily so that I never have to worry about accumulating buildup. Its medium hold also keeps my strands in place and my flyaways down all day long.
Pros: editor-approved; lightweight; made with curls in mind; subtle scent; affordable
Cons: contains silicones
Customer Review: "I love this product as I bought a hair sample box. This item has been a blessing as I have long, thick hair so it is hard to find a holding product that doesn't make my hair crunchy or stiff as a board. It leaves my hair more healthy and natural looking along with smelling good." -Ulta
Meet the Expert
Aviva Jansen Perea is a celebrity, red carpet and editorial hair stylist who has worked in the industry for two decades. She has styled a number of celebrities, including America Ferrera during her Barbie Press Tour. She also developed her own line of recyclable, plastic-free hair pins called Day Rate Beauty.
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