How can I make it look like I have more hair?
September 22, 2008 10:41 AM   Subscribe

HairFilter: I want it to look like I have more hair. Is a perm the way to go?

I have suffered from fine, thin hair my whole life. I want it to look fuller, with a bit of wave/curl and I'm wondering if a perm would be the way to go. I've tried all the hair volumizers and thickeners and hot rollers out there, and although some do work, six hours later it always is back to looking like I put a straight iron through it.

Are perms still "in?" Is it possible to get a really loose one, I don't want tight curls here, just something to give my hair some body? Has anyone with similar hair had luck with perms? Thank you and discuss!
posted by als129 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My first, knee-jerk reaction was "OH GOD NO!" to the perm idea. I had one when I was younger, asked for 'loose' curls like you, ended up looking like a poodle. I just think they never look right, always look fake, and look even stupider growing out. Personally I would consider getting a weave and get some extra rows of hair sewn in to add fullness before I considered a perm, though neither option is terrific or good for your hair.
posted by gwenlister at 10:58 AM on September 22, 2008

I thought I had medium to thin hair (my partner definitely has thin hair) until I went to a new hairdresser. She cut it a significant amount and then cut...upwards. Almost like putting darts in, if you can imagine that sewing analogy. It has a lot more volume now, especially in the back. She was Paul Mitchell trained, fwiw.
posted by cobaltnine at 11:08 AM on September 22, 2008

To create lasting curl with fine hair a transfer perm is the way to go.
posted by hortense at 11:18 AM on September 22, 2008

Just to add my own anecdotal story - I had a perm a few years ago. I asked for loose waves, and I thought it looked natural. It looked like what my hair does if I spend the time to put in product and scrunch it up while wet, but better. Because the waves were so loose, they just slowly straightened as my hair grew longer - there was no awkward grow out stage where my hair was bone straight and then fake looking curls.

The only pain was learning to deal with curly hair. I thought having curls would be easier than straight hair, that I could let them air dry and they would look awesome - no need for blow drying, brushing while drying, etc. Was I in for a surprise! I WAS able to air dry my hair (no more flip over blow drying, yay!), but I had to put in product each morning or the waves would frizz up. It was also hard for me to remember to NOT brush or comb (even finger comb) my hair once it was dry. I learned that you can do whatever you want while the curls are wet, but if you even touch them once they're dry they frizz up. I am a compulsive hair twirler and finger comber, so that was tough.

I would say that if you want one, you should go talk to a good hairdresser. They will be able to tell you more about what it will look like and whether it will work to give you body.

Another thing to consider is the Jessica Simpson clip in extensions. I bought a piece for a wedding and loved it. It is so easy to clip in and it looks so natural. It's basically a one piece extension that you clip on under your natural hair. Even when I told people it was fake hair, they didn't believe me. Watch some of the videos on the site to see how it's used.
posted by Nickel at 11:19 AM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

Cobaltnine, do you mean that she gave you a haircut (holding scissors so the blades were horizontal) and then went through and cut holding the scissors so the blades were vertical, to make the ends more uneven/chunky?
posted by Houstonian at 11:24 AM on September 22, 2008

I have thinning hair and two things are very important to hiding the thinness. 1: keep your hair short. The longer your hair, the more it lies flat and exposes your scalp area. 2: Comb forward. Not in a combover like way, but, in a cute bob sort of way. Are you male or female? If male, the same advice goes, but cut it shorter, comb forward. It has more volume and covers the scalp. Also, I use a product that has been excellent in "plumping" my hair, and it works really well. It's the Aveda Volumizing Tonic. It's not too expensive and works well.
posted by joaniemcchicken at 1:22 PM on September 22, 2008

I'm with gwenlister on the perm idea. I have baby-fine hair that's also somewhat thinner than I'd like, and yet I had to go through some poodle years myself.

The Aveda volumizing tonic that joaniemcchicken recommends is really like magic. It works really, really well. Aveda also has a few products named "Be Curly" (meant mostly to de-frizz actual curly hair), and they make my straight hair look pleasantly wavy/curly with a little clever blowdrying and scrunching.

Another thing you might consider: very subtle highlights or an all-over dye might damage your hair just enough to make it hold a curl. I highlight my fine hair not because I especially love the highlights, but just because that layer of damage roughs my hair up just enough that I can DO something with it. I recently curled my hair to high heaven for a wedding, and it was still nice and curly when I got home from the reception, about eighteen hours later. (I mention to colorists from time to time that I'm just dyeing my hair to put some damage in it, and they nod and say, oh yes, with such fine hair, that's what I'd do too.)
posted by adiabat at 3:55 PM on September 22, 2008

I have had four...? perms in my life, with the same goal -- make thin hair fuller, not looking for curly -- and two have turned out fantastic, and two not so hot. It's possible, but it's worth finding a stylist with a lot of experience, I think.
posted by kmennie at 4:54 PM on September 22, 2008

cut holding the scissors so the blades were vertical

She was behind me and I had my glasses off. It felt more like 'small snips' - essentially, taking hair out somehow made it look and act fuller. I think she may have used the term 'stacking'.
posted by cobaltnine at 5:21 PM on September 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I am so glad someone asked this question, it's something I was wondering about myself. Not about the the perm part, but the thin hair part. My entire childhood was structured around my ridiculously thick hair (imagine long brushing sessions, and a mother with a lice phobia). I've always kept my hair pretty long too. I went to college... my hair started falling out. I now have what I consider to be really thin hair (you can see my scalp :( it should be a secret!) I was recently considering making the switch to a shorter cut, but was concerned my thin hair wouldn't stand up for it. This post has inspired me to give it a try. My hair grows pretty fast, so if worse comes to worst, it will be long again eventually.
Also, my mother has permanently damaged hair because of her weird addiction to perms. She's the one I've inherited the thinness from... so I guess she followed the same instinct.
posted by purpletangerine at 8:47 PM on September 22, 2008

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