Ever since I became aware of my thin hair back in middle school when I finally retired my beloved slicked-back soccer ponytail, I’ve lamented my fine locks. And after becoming a beauty editor, it’s become my mission to find out which haircuts are best for feigning the look of
fuller, thicker hair. Here’s what I’ve learned: it’s all about the optical illusions your stylist creates in addition to how you care for and maintain your cut at home.
“If you have fine or thin hair,
the haircut you choose is super important,” explains celebrity hairstylist Ted Gibson. “In general, blunter lines are always better, and if you do opt for layers, keep them minimal. Bobs, lobs, long hair that’s roughly one length, and pixies are great for this type of hair.” Oh, and avoid heavy hair products and overworking your hair at all costs.
“The worst styling mistakes for people with fine or thin hair is using heavy conditioner or heavy oils. These will not only make a finer texture look greasy fast, but they’ll [also] weigh the hair down and hinder its potential for a voluminous, fluffy finish
regardless of how strategic your cut is,” confirms Gibson.
Ahead, I asked a few other top celebrity hairstylists to share the best haircuts for thin, fine hair. Keep scrolling to see what they had to say.
There’s an old wives’ tale that says in order to make thin, fine hair look as thick and voluminous as possible, you need an ultra-blunt, ultra-short haircut. So not the case! As celebrity hairstylist Cervando Maldonado explains, you can work a haircut falling between your shoulders and bust, and you can even have some light layering. That said, there’s definitely some strategy involved. “If you have a finer hair texture but like to keep your hair long, I recommend asking for either a blunt haircut or one that’s almost one length with light layering on the bottom for movement,” he tells us. “There should be strategic face-framing in the front starting around the chin and subtly working its way down your length. When you talk to your stylist, make sure to use these words as a reference.”
How to Style It: Work a mousse (Maldonado recommends the below from Davines) from roots to ends on damp hair and follow with a volumizer. Then start rough-drying with a blow-dryer until your hair is about 75% dry in order to add volume before taking a brush to it. Starting in the front and crown, take a medium-size boar-bristle brush to finish drying your hair section by section. Maldonado likes to finish with Sachajuan Dry Powder Shampoo ($39) for extra lift and texture.
A chic blunt bob or lob is one of the best, most strategic haircuts for those with thin or fine hair. But again, you have some flexibility with length, and Maldonado recommends a sleek, straight cut hitting at the chin, neck, or even the collarbone. “This is a great choice because it bulks up the look of your hair and gives instant chic style whether it’s in a ponytail, straight, or wavy,” Maldonado explains. “When you talk to your stylist about this style, it’s important to decide on the length that will best work for you. Bringing in an inspiration photo is always a good idea, and this cut also looks great with fringe.”
How to Style It: Starting with damp hair, Maldonado says to rake a volumizer from roots to ends before rough-drying strands till they’re about 75% dry. To finish, use a small to medium boar-bristle brush to smooth hair section by section and create a shape to show off the cut. If you want a more low-maintenance style that doesn’t involve heat, he suggests towel-drying your hair post-shower and then applying Leonor Greyl Sérum de Soie Sublimateur Styling Serum ($46) from root to tip. Last, comb, part your hair where desired, and let it air-dry for a more natural, tousled texture.
“One mistake with fine hair is to leave it too long with too many layers,” Maldonado warns. “This will usually make your natural texture look less dense and less full.” But again, there are options if you do want length and layers. If you’re just not into short or even medium-length hair, he suggests opting for a long, layered haircut that combines bangs and face-framing layers. “I like this cut, in particular, because it can give your hair a specific style and some necessary structure while requiring minimal styling and maintenance.”
How to Style It: Maldonado likes to apply a mousse like Starring by Ted Gibson Shooting Star Texture Meringue ($52) on damp hair from root to tip. Rough-dry with a blow-dryer until you’re 75% dry; then start styling the bangs with a smaller boar-bristle brush. Then either switch to a large boar-bristle brush to finish drying section by section, which will create movement and a soft, slightly bouncy texture, or let the hair air-dry for a more French-inspired and messy texture.
“A full pixie is a great haircut for thin hair because it helps add fullness to your strands,” explains celebrity hairstylist Ursula Stephen. “When you think of the typical pixie, there’s a lot of layers, and layers actually take away the density of your hair. By going for a fuller pixie with a heavier bang and fuller top, you create more bulk and thickness in the hair.” Plus, this cut is low maintenance and requires super-minimal styling and upkeep. At the salon, she instructs to ask for a “full” or “dense” pixie cut with minimal layering.
How to Style It: According to Stephen, all you’ll need is a flat iron to give the hair a little bump, finish, or shine before heading on your way. That said, be wary of overworking your hot tools, as she says this won’t do those with thin hair any favors. “Overstyling with heat will cause thin hair to become wiry and dry, and if you put too much product, it will be flat and limp,” she warns. “Thin hair needs to be airy, fluffy, and light, and if you’re using products, the majority should be applied while the hair is actually damp.”
For those with thin hair looking for a happy medium between long and layered, or short and blunt, NatureLab Tokyo brand ambassador and celebrity hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons recommends a mid-length haircut accented with beachy texture (aka subtle layering) and a deep part for an extra punch of fullness and body. “This haircut is a great option for anyone who doesn’t want to do a really big chop like a pixie or bob,” he explains. “Ask your stylist about potentially adding in soft layers. Done properly, it can make your hair look fuller. This cut and style looks good on everyone and is a great way to extend the beachy vibes we enjoyed during summer.”
How to Style It: To keep damage at bay and enhance your natural texture, we recommend air-drying and then using a flat iron, curling wand, or beach waver to bulk up your texture with extra wave and body. To finish, spritz a bit of texture or volume spray through your mid-lengths and ends. And for even more drama and thickness, try switching up your part—either to the side you don’t normally part it on, or going an inch or so deeper than you’d usually go.
Next: I Asked a Celeb Hairstylist How to Make My Hair Grow Faster, Here’s What He Said. This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.