October 29, 2007 12:55 PM   Subscribe

Gimmie volume! Not the acoustic kind... I have fine, flat hair, and want awesome big hair.

I've always had baby-fine, extremely straight hair that doesn't really like to do anything, no matter what I try. I've had good haircuts and that's helped (it's chin-length at this point), and volumizing spray + blowdrying upside down gives me some texture, but the only thing that's caused my locks to remotely approach "volumnious" is Bumble&Bumble's hair powder, which, while great for events, is definitely not something I'd want to use every day. Any suggestions? Are there products or techniques out there that I've just somehow missed, or must I embrace the hair I had as a six-year-old?
posted by you're a kitty! to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (25 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Wash your hair less frequently is the first thing I would suggest. Have you tried that, or using conditioner only? Some people also say highlighting their hair gave it more texture -the highlights rough up the cuticle so it doesn't lie as flat.
posted by kellyblah at 1:09 PM on October 29, 2007

Do you want piece-y, textured volume, or smoother, more styled volume? For the latter, check out Garnier's Surf Hair. For either, try a volumizing mousse instead of a spray, and apply only to the roots.

My hair gets more voluminous if I let it air-dry, especially if I fluff it up periodically while it dries, but you lose a little bit of control with that.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:10 PM on October 29, 2007

Dying my hair gives it texture for about a week, so that's probably a similar effect to what highlighting would do, but I may try it. As for not washing my hair - if you have really fine hair and you don't wash it for 24 hours, it gets awful.
posted by you're a kitty! at 1:16 PM on October 29, 2007

I also have fine hair and I have been using L'Oreal's Studio Line "Grab" for volume. It has sadly been discontiued, but is described as a texturizer having "pliable molding fibers " so I think a similar texturizer that is made to be applied to damp hair would help.
posted by pointystick at 1:20 PM on October 29, 2007

have you tried large rollers at the roots? that's usually the surest way to get volume. also, what about hair spray? if you're anything like me, you probably hate the stuff, but nevertheless, a lot of hair people suggest it.

after you've after you've blow-dried your hair upside down (and using a hair protecting, voluming product, preferably a mousse at the roots), spray some on, and then continue to hold your head upside down for a half a minute or so, and then finally flip it back.

other things that you might try: shampoos and conditions specifically designed to thicken or volumize (Bumble&Bumble again is supposed to be good, but I've never used their shampoos), using a diffuser and attachments on your hair dryer, getting a hair cut with lots of layers for movement, and even dying you hair. lightening thickens it by opening the cuticle and plumping the shaft. of course, if you don't use a lot of heat protecting serums and deep conditioners, you might end up with dry, damaged hair that's also flat, but even some highlights would probably help. don't go for too much contrast with the rest of your hair though-- it looks pretty dated. keep your hair shorter, and try using conditioner only at the ends or wherever your hair is driest (unless you are going to color it) if you can get away with it. and make sure you thoroughly wash out the conditioner or it will weigh your hair down.

there's lots of instructions and product recommendations online, especially from your usual assortment of women's mags. also, search youtube for tutorials.
posted by buka at 1:28 PM on October 29, 2007

Seconding highlights. It does make your hair appear slightly thicker.

If you go without washing your hair for a few days at a time and stick with it, it's supposed to stop producing so much oil but that said, I have never been able to stick with it as I can't stand how greasy my hair gets. Maybe you could wash it the night before and just wet it in the morning? I always find that my hair has better texture the second time I wet it (i.e. I wash my hair in the morning but before I go out at night I just wet it and re-style).

Also, you could try using those massive velcro rollers on the hair around the front and side of your face. Put them in your hair when it's almost dry and then dry it on hot, and then blast it with cool air from the dryer to "set" it. The rollers work by lifting your hair up high so it can fully dry into that position, which should give it a bit of lift.

Also, beware of using too much product as this will just weigh your hair down. Personally, I find mousse is the best for giving lift (along with the drying upside-down bit) as it is the lightest product.
posted by triggerfinger at 1:28 PM on October 29, 2007

I, too, have very fine hair and going w/o washing for a few days does not produce the desired result. It just gets gross. If you have a lot of hair follicles but your hair is like filament (which is my situation) then layers will help you. If you don't have a lot of follicles, then getting volume from a hair cut is trickier. That said, I've never had a lot of success making volume unless I curl it, and then I have to cement the curls in like nobody's business.
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:36 PM on October 29, 2007

I used to tease the underlayer of my hair a bit (leaving enough smooth on top so it would still look nice) and fixed it with hairspray... that worked for years until I got layers cut in my hair and realized that that was what I needed all along. Layers. Solved everything -- except for the ability to wear a ponytail anymore.
posted by xo at 1:37 PM on October 29, 2007

I have the same hair, I think. It is the bane of my existence and I am constantly worried that I am actually losing it and have bald spots.

Anyway. The thing in the past that has worked best for me is this process:

use a volumizing product on my damp, towel-dried hair (I use this gel from big sexy hair, I think it's called; I can double-check)

Blow dry for about five minutes until hair is only slightly damp

Put in large curlers - the velcro kind, not the hot kind

Let hair air-dry for 10-15 minutes, hit it again with the hair dryer and then take curlers out; dry hair with head upside down

This works pretty well but it takes like a half hour and most mornings I am just too tired to be bothered. Now usually what I do is to blow-dry at least my roots with a round brush and let the rest of my hair air-dry.

Do you have layered hair? That can help with volume.

At some point you could just embrace it. I sometimes get compliments about my sleek, shiny hair (which is only sleek because it hardly has any body). I am the only person I know whose hair actually looks better in high humidity.

I know how you feel though; my hair frustrates me to no end.
posted by sutel at 1:42 PM on October 29, 2007

To add: other products I have found helpful include Garnier's volumizing shampoo & conditioner and the Bedhead volumizing gel (I can't remember what it's called).
posted by sutel at 1:46 PM on October 29, 2007

I use Aveda "Pure Abundance Hair Potion." I just shake a little on my roots after blowdrying, and quickly work it around. It makes a dry, poofy sort of mess out of my short, baby-fine hair. I don't fix it with spray or anything, so it deflates by the end of the day, but it stays matte and a bit textured.

If you have an Aveda salon or store near you, you could try it out before plunking down the $$$, to see if that's the look you're going for, and if it wears well through the day. And then they can push other products on you. ;-)
posted by limeswirltart at 1:56 PM on October 29, 2007 [1 favorite]

highlighting the hair is not the exact answer to giving more texture, but it's close. bleaching roughens the cuticle, so if you wanna go lighter and have big hair, this is your lucky day. getting a lighter color will give you more body, sort of, by way of destroying your hair a little bit.

on the downside, fine hair with volume looks like fine hair with volume -- not thick hair.

a pretty good resource for fine hair tricks, is, and i'm sorry to invoke her name, paris hilton. she has super-straight baby-fine hair that does exactly nothing. note that he actual hair is cut in a chin-length bob, and she wears TONS of hair from other sources.
posted by patricking at 1:56 PM on October 29, 2007

oh, also, if you're just wanting texture in general, rusk does a great putty for spikier styles called being primitive.
posted by patricking at 1:59 PM on October 29, 2007

I had flat hair for years and have only recently learned to wear it big.

Cut cannot be overemphasized.

If you really feel like you have to wash your hair every day, try to only shampoo the roots. It makes a huge difference.

"Hair people" might disagree with me but I've found the best product for my hair is a low-end aerosol hairspray. Make it ridiculously huge, using as much spray as you want. As it settles, it will find a more normal volume.

And you may not be stuck with this hair for the rest of your life. As I've gotten older, my hair has developed more and more texture (being pregnant and moving to a humid tropical place has helped too!)
posted by wallaby at 2:20 PM on October 29, 2007

I've had luck getting Peggy Bundy-esque hair with Tigi's Cocky paste. I put it on wet hair and then blow dry upside down.
posted by ruevian at 2:44 PM on October 29, 2007

Try back brushing your hair ,just before the finish spray .
posted by hortense at 2:47 PM on October 29, 2007

Not washing as often and using lots of conditioner is what I do to make my (bulky, unmanageably wavy) hair go straighter and lay slightly flat. The opposite--wash daily, use slightly drying shampoo, use only very, very light conditioner--should make your hair more fluffy, but it could turn out like others have said...fluffy but still thin, dry, damaged hair.
posted by anaelith at 3:22 PM on October 29, 2007

I have thin, thin, thin hair—when my lab group had to look at our hairs under a microscope back in my freshman year of high school biology class, mine was the thinnest by far, only about 1/3 the width of the next closest hair. It's also stick-straight, no wave to it whatsoever. I couldn't do a damn thing with it for years.

Only in the last few years have I been able to get it big at all—and that all started with a Locks of Love haircut that brought it up to chin-length and gave me fuzzy/chunky layers through the bottom two inches.

Now to style, I blow-dry upside-down, then finish right-side-up, brushing/blowing back the entire time, at the end brushing the hair straight back and establishing a side part using a bristly brush and non-aerosol hairspray on the roots.

Then I roll out the bottom with a round metal brush (holds more heat, acting like hot curlers, only much faster) using the blowdryer, to curl it up and give it some volume—then hit the bottom with hairspray and kind of push and crimp that up and out with my fingers, mussing the back a bit and giving it a bit of horizontal volume.

If I want a bit more volume on top, I scrunch a dollop of foaming mousse throughout my roots while upside-down, then blow-dry. Also, I always make sure to use maximum hold hairspray, 'cause anything less won't keep it in place. In my experience, non-aerosol is better—it's a more directed spray, so it gets where you want it faster, yet stays wet long enough for you to brush through it. Aerosol tends to just fuzz off all over the place, on your face, on your shoulders, on the floor, and not much on your hair—whenever I use aerosol my hair falls down by the end of the day, whereas my hair's still standing tall at the end of the day with non-aerosol. (Pantene is my hairspray of choice, 'cause it has maximum hold, but also polymers that keep it flexible.)

Back-combing/teasing the front/roots is also essential—a tall front makes all of it look taller.
posted by limeonaire at 3:24 PM on October 29, 2007

Oh, and do not air-dry if you want big hair—blow-drying upside down and while back-combing are absolutely the way to go.
posted by limeonaire at 3:25 PM on October 29, 2007

So, I have had noticeable results with this accurately named product. Also, I like to skip conditioner. It makes my hair lighter, therefore fluffier, and it's still shiny and split-ends free, which I attribute to it not being too long.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:51 PM on October 29, 2007

I have baby fine, extremely straight hair that won't hold a curl or any style no matter what I do. Now that I've bleached the hell out of it (I'm naturally dishwater blonde, but now I'm almost platinum with a black layer that we'll call "lowlights") and added a few layers, I have more volume and it holds a curl. I use Abba hair products, which my hair loves, and it looks super healthy despite the 5+ years of bleaching. Volumizers and mousses just weigh my hair down, but I do use a little gel (and I mean tiny amount) only at the roots and blow dry upside down and using a round brush, which gives a little extra lift. Oh, and don't brush it throughout the day. Any volume or curl I have just falls out the second a brush goes near my head.

And yeah, not washing my hair for even a day just makes it flatter and really gross. I don't have enough hair for the oils to spread out over, I guess, so they just sit there.
posted by doubtful_guest at 4:06 PM on October 29, 2007

If your hair will hold a curl:

Get a 1-2 inch barrel curling iron, depending on the length of your hair. 1 for short, 2 for long, 1.5 for either.

Apply a volumizing styling product to damp hair.

Dry hair completely, tousling with fingers. Blow upside down and all around. just don't flatten with a brush.

Grab 1 inch sections of hair. Spray these sections with a styling product -- like a light hairspray. Curl the sections around the curling iron as far as you can go and hold for 7-10 seconds. If your hair is long, pin each curl up to your head with a clip. Gravity can weigh the curls down. You want to pin these up if while they cool. Repeat for the rest of the hair.

Now you will have several curls pinned up. Spray with more hairspray and let the curls cool completely.

Undo the clips and finger comb the curls.

Lightly tease the top with a teasing comb. Smooth top layer of hair. Spray again.

If you haven't already, you may want to consider color or highlights. Applying hair coloring chemicals to the hair roughens up the cuticle and can make the hair appear fuller. This isn't a very smart move if you have nice natural color. Coloring and the maintenance of color can be a headache.
posted by LoriFLA at 5:40 PM on October 29, 2007

Your hair sounds similar to mine, as well. Though I've lately let mine grow fairly long, and have laid off blowing dry and overuse of styling products--thin, fine, 2-year-old hair also breaks incredibly easily, making it look even thinner. What I've taken to doing is reducing the washing to twice a week--if you do this slowly, you don't have as much of an oil problem. Strengthening/volumising shampoo and conditioner, and Nexxus Humectress (they recently changed the formula, you can now find it at Target instead of just at salons) as a leave-in. Add a big handful of mousse, worked through everywhere. Then dry overnight--sleeping on it gives that tousled-bedhead look, without dealing with lots of product and rollers and such, plus you can roll out of bed and go the next morning. Handle as little as possible--fussing with it, brushing/combing, getting oils from your hands in it, moving it around a lot just flattens it faster.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 6:45 PM on October 29, 2007

I know people who swear by Michael di Cesare's LiquiFix, which is available on eBay or on QVC or HSN.
posted by essexjan at 2:01 PM on October 30, 2007

my hair is long and dead straight (i'm asian) and also baby fine, although i do have a a lot of it, hence it needs layering or else turns into sort of flat triangle shape.

i don't know if you have any japanese grocery stores near you, but i put gatsby hair wax into my wet hair before i blowdry it. the gatsby hair wax tends to be more texturising and nowhere as oily as the regular stuff i find in stores here. oil is the big killer of big hair for me.

i also backcomb at least the back section of my hair, and since it's fine, it washes straight out without needing any detangling. i suggest spraying the roots with hairspray first before backcombing for more hold.

i also recommend dyeing your hair to coarsen it somewhat.
posted by sardonicsmile at 12:23 AM on January 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

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