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17 Styling Tricks Women with Fine, Flat Hair Need to Know


By Amy Marturana, C.P.T., Self

Having fine, flat hair might seem easy to style. After all, fine hair requires little blow-drying and you can effortlessly tie it in a low-slung bun or ponytail on your way out while still looking chic. But many people with this hair type will tell you that it can be difficult to hold curls or add natural-looking volume—and no one wants droopy, limp hair halfway through the day.

To learn how to add gorgeous volume that stays put until happy hour, SELF talked to a few top hair stylists for their best tips and favorite haircut styles for people with fine, flat hair.


Styling Tips & Tricks

1. Use a lightweight volumizing shampoo and conditioner to create a foundation.

“The most important step in getting volume for fine hair starts in the shower,” explains Brianna Colette, stylist at NINE ZERO ONE in Los Angeles. Make sure you're using a lightweight volumizing shampoo and conditioner that also have some moisturizing ingredients. These types of shampoos tend to be more drying and can cause your scalp to overproduce oils to make up for it, explains celebrity hairstylist Mark Townsend. We suggest Dove Nutritive Solutions Oxygen Moisture Shampoo, $5, and Conditioner, $5.


2. Never apply conditioner to your scalp.

“Any time you wet your hair you should use conditioner,” Townsend says. “But only from mid-length to the ends.” Since you’re opening up your cuticle, your hair needs the nourishment. But glopping it on the roots will just make you look greasy and limp within a few hours.


3. But you can scrunch your hair in the shower with conditioner.

Jen Atkin, celebrity hairstylist and founder of OUAI, says scrunching wet hair in the shower with conditioner provides a great foundation for air-drying. She recommends the OUAI Repair Conditioner, $28, since it adds lots of moisture for frizz-free air-drying.


4. Use a clarifying shampoo to get rid of buildup.

Product buildup leads to weight in your hair, which makes everything more droopy. “Using a once-a-week clarifying shampoo will rid your hair of impurities and product buildup without stripping your color,” Colette says. We recommend the OUAI Clean Shampoo, $28, which is formulated with keratin to smooth and repair damage.


5. Get over your fear of mousse.

Unlike the mousse our mothers used that dried out hair and froze it in all its permed glory, mousse formulas today are more elegant and hydrating. “Apply a volumizing whip or mousse when hair is wet,” Colette recommends. “Comb a small, palm-sized dollop of product through hair from root to ends. Be careful not to apply too much as this will only weigh your hair down.” We recommend the Oribe Grandiose Hair Plumping Mousse, $39, which is great for a blowout.


5. Blow-dry to activate volumizing products.

You may be tempted to skip the blow dryer, especially if your fine hair dries straight and smooth. But if you skip blow drying, your volumizing work will all be for naught. “[With] almost all volumizers you need to use a blow dryer with heat to activate them,” Townsend says. He uses Dove Oxygen Moisture Root Lift Spray, $10, before both blow-drying and air-drying clients like Mary-Kate Olsen, who doesn’t like a perfectly polished, blown-out look.


6. Skip the round brush until the very end.

“Flip your head upside-down and start by rough drying,” Colette explains. In other words, use nothing but your hands. “This will lift the roots and rough up the cuticle, maximizing volume. When hair is 60 to 70 percent dry, flip back over and start blow-drying using a ceramic brush to smooth ends and add softness to the style.” But be careful not to pull too hard—that’ll just flatten everything out.


7. Set hair with Velcro rollers to add extra lift.

Colette explains that after blow-drying, section off pieces of hair at the crown, roll them up into Velcro curlers, and use the cool setting on your dryer to set the style. Finish with a texturizing spray like Oribe Texturizing Spray, $22, or OUAI’s Wave Spray, $26, spraying at the root in sections. “That way, when the style starts to fall throughout the day all you need to do is flip your head over, massage your scalp and fluff your hair up,” Colette adds.


8. Get acquainted with a good dry shampoo.

“Dry shampoo is any woman with fine hair’s best friend,” Townsend says. “I find I get a better hold and long-lasting volume using dry shampoo over hairspray.” Instead of spraying and then brushing out like you would to absorb oil, leave it be. He explains, “If you leave it in there, the powder and starch will literally build on each other.” He recommends Dove STYLE+care Volume Dry Shampoo, $5.


9. Get highlights if you want to add lasting volume.

Highlights are a great way to add texture and volume to fine hair. “It roughs up the cuticle, making hair that is naturally limp and flat hold a voluminous style longer,” Colette explains. Alas, this is the same reason highlights weaken hair and require extra TLC. As long as you’re not overdoing it (a.k.a going in for touchups every few weeks), it’ll plump up your strands a bit sans product. If you’re concerned about damage, Colette suggests asking your stylist to use henna, “a plant-based hair color that is often used to make hair feel fuller, healthier, and shiner without the added damage of highlights.”


10. Splurge on an in-salon volumizing treatment.

Kérastase offers a Fusio Dose Densifique treatment at its salons, specifically designed for women who struggle with fine hair but still want to keep hair healthy. “Densifique treatment will leave your hair full of revitalized texture, which lasts for four weeks depending on how frequently you shampoo,” explains Jasmine Anna Galazka, Kérastase educator and senior stylist at Warren Tricomi Plaza Salon.


11. Spray products into your hands first to add extra texture.

“If want some piecey-ness and your hair is very fine, put product in your hand first,” says Townsend. Try a texturizing spray like Sally Hershberger 24K Supreme Stylist Voluminous Dry Shampoo, $32. Spray it into the palm of your hand, dab fingers in it, and work it into your strands to add distinct texture. For added moisture, Atkin recommends the OUAI Finishing Cream, $24, which is like lotion for your hair, so applying a dime size all over helps tame any flyaways.


12. Keep dry shampoo in your bag for on-the-go touch ups.

Even if you volumize your heart out in the morning, you might still need a midday refresher. Keep a travel-sized dry shampoo (or volumizing powder like Unite Expanda Dust, $26) in your bag. Oribe’s and Kérastase’s both come in miniature portions, as does Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo, $13, and Psst!, $3.


13. Backcomb hair at the crown to get more height.

Townsend does this on almost every photo shoot and red carpet. Lift hair in small sections, backcomb each section two or three times using a fine-tooth plastic comb, spray with dry shampoo, and then comb the hair down on top lightly to smooth it out and hide the teasing.


14. Shampoo less often—yes, really.

“I know it freaks out women with fine hair,” Townsend says, since fine-haired gals tend to get oily fast. “When you shampoo every day, volumizing products are usually not the most moisturizing, so your scalp will produce more oils to moisturize itself.” Get on a cycle of shampooing only three or four times a week, and he promises it will really help in the volume department.


15. Use a soft-hold hairspray.

Stay away from heavyweight products like pomades, oils, or waxes with thin hair, as they will weigh your hair down and make it look more fine, John D., TRESemmé celebrity stylist tells SELF.


16. Fill in a finer hairstyle with a fibrous hair powder.

Spritz hair fibers into your roots for a more naturally full appearance. Hair fibers work for all hair types and textures, and are great for filling in part lines, covering extension tracks, or touching up roots between hair color appointments. John D. recommends the Toppik Hair Building Fibers, $25, which is made of keratin protein to give thin hair an instant boost and available in nine shades to suit your color. Alternatively, you can try Klorane’s Leave-in Spray with Flax Fiber, $18, which is formulated with organically-farmed flax fiber for an on-the-go styling and texturizing treatment.


17. Add clip-in extensions to make hair look more voluminous.

Extensions aren’t just good for adding length—they can also be strategically clipped in to give the appearance of thicker, fuller hair. They’re great for special events, such as weddings, when you may want to play around with a more dramatic hairstyle. The trick to making extensions looks seamless and natural is to take them to your hairstylist to have them help you trim them and match the color, John D. explains.


Haircut Styles For Fine, Flat Hair

1. Consider your jawline and face shape when picking hair length and layers.

No matter what your hair type, Joel Warren, founder of The Salon Project, tells SELF that layering for your hair type and face shape is essential for a flattering look. For thin, flat hair, he suggests anything shoulder-length, because it creates a look of fullness.


2. If you have fine, curly hair…

Try a style that is layered and point cut, John D. says. Point cutting is a technique the pros use to remove dead weight from the ends to create texture and movement in the hair. “The point cut creates softness at the ends, while the layering will encourage the curls to feel more voluminous, making the fine hair look much more thick and full.” But be mindful of cutting too many layers, Adam Livermore, hairstylist and international educator for Oribe Haircare tells SELF. “Because [this type of hair] has very little natural weight, if it is cut with too many layers, it can go from full to chaotic really quickly.” For fine, curly hair, Livermore likes a mid-length cut with very light layering to encourage the fullness while avoiding a bottom-heavy look.


3. If you have fine, straight hair…

For fine, straight hair Livermore recommends clean, straight, one-length cuts, like bobs, lobs, or long, one-length hair with a little face-framing. “Layers can make fine straight hair look stringy very easily,” he adds. Lightweight volumizing products like the Oribe Maximista Thickening Spray, $19, are great if you’re blowing your hair out because it provides volume with the added benefit thermal protection from heat styling. The PHYTO Phytovolume Actif Volumizing Spray, $30, can help with thickening.


4. If you have fine, wavy hair…

Fine, wavy hair usually doesn’t have enough thickness in the fiber to really hold its natural waves, so shorter lengths and more layers are better, Livermore says. Shag haircuts are making a comeback this year, and Atkin recommends one with loads of layers to bring out the natural waves. She says it’s an easy-to-style cut whether you’re rocking your natural texture or adding some bends using a flat iron or curling iron.


5. If your hair is dry or oily....

Oily hair and dry hair don’t require special haircuts, John D. says. Instead, they benefit most from a dry shampoo or a light-weight hair mask, which works to repair damage and bring back your hair’s health. When applying the mask to fine hair, you want to coat from mid-lengths to ends and let it sit for a few minutes before shampooing. He recommends the TRESemmé Repair & Protect 7 Instant Recovery Mask Sachet, $3. For dry shampoo, we recommend the cult-favorite Klorane Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk, $20.

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U.S. Daily News: 17 Styling Tricks Women with Fine, Flat Hair Need to Know
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