Thin hair and fine hair are terms often used interchangeably (I'm guilty of it, too), but let's get something straight—they're not the same thing. “When referring to fine hair, what you’re really talking about is the texture and density of each individual shaft of hair,” explains hairstylist Adam Federico. In other words, it’s possible to have fine hair—but a lot of it. Thin hair, on the other hand, usually refers to the amount of hair that you have on your head. “It doesn’t denote texture, but it does refer to volume,” adds Federico. That said, you can have both thin hair and fine hair (hi, it me), and there's a lot of overlap as far as styling wants and needs, so don't feel like you have to click out of this article if you've got fine hair.
To help you out (and also selfishly because I'm in desperate need of a new cut for my own fine, thin hair), I reached out to hair pros to compile a list of the best haircuts for thin hair. Read all of their styling advice below, followed by haircut ideas that'll make your hair look fuller and thicker.
Meet the experts
- Jamie Brice is an NYC-based hairstylist and Amika Pro educator.
- Leo Izquierdo is a hairstylist and a cofounder of IGK Hair Care and owner of IGK Salons.
- Adam Federico is a hairstylist, the VP of technical development and education for R+Co, and the creative director for Federico Beauty Institute.
How do I give my thin hair more volume?
Some days, I love embracing my fine, thin hair with sleek, slicked styles, but other days I want major body and volume, ya feel me? If you're not using volume hair products, let's change that. As hairstylist Jamie Brice explains it, heavy, oily products will weigh down your hair, so you'll want to reach for the opposite kind of products. When your hair is wet or damp, Federico recommends applying mousse from the roots to the mid-shaft of your hair or a thickening spray right at the roots to plump up the hair. “Brush through, then blow dry with a vented round brush for flexible body and thickness,” says hairstylist Leo Izquierdo. If you want to add a little oomph when your hair is dry, apply a dry volume spray for lift or texturizing spray for density and work it in with your fingers. But hair products are just half of it. Even the best styling tools and tips won't be able to get you the results you want if you don't have the right haircut to start.
What is the best haircut for thin hair?
For thin and thinning hair, the experts agree that a whole lotta layers will take away from the overall density and make the hair appear even thinner. Instead, Izquierdo suggests asking for “invisible” layers that are seamless and can be strategically placed throughout the hair to encourage movement. No matter what cut and style you decide on, regular hair trims and shape-ups (Brice recommends every 6 to 12 weeks, depending on your length) are a must. “Breakage can be a common challenge for those with thinning hair, so keeping the ends fuller can make a significant difference visually as well as encourage retention by keeping split ends in check,” Izquierdo explains.
Need a visual? Scroll on for 21 haircuts, lengths, and hairstyles to inspire your next cut.
- A Blunt Cut
The haircut of choice for those with thin hair: A blunt cut. As Izquierdo explains it, this style keeps the bulk of the weight at the ends, which gives a thicker, fuller, healthier appearance as opposed to a highly textured look that accentuates breakage or thinness towards the ends. Style it pin straight or try a softer look with rounded ends, like this.
- An Asymmetrical Cut
Brice says keeping your length shorter helps to create more volume and also will give the effect of overall fullness. And you know what else creates fullness? An asymmetrical cut like this with a deep side part.
- A Classic Bob
For maximum density, Federico recommends a classic bob that's all one length. It's the perfect choice for a timeless cut you'll never get sick of, unlike some trendier hairstyles.
- A Collarbone-Length Cut
Even if you don't want to go super short, Federico says wearing the length at the collarbone level or close to it will give the illusion of more density on the bottom edge.
- A Graduated Bob
According to Federico, an inverted bob or a classic graduated bob helps build a bit of fullness through the bottom edge of the hair and maintains weight through the perimeter line.
- A Few Layers at the Crown
If you do want to try a layered haircut, Federico suggests trying a minimal amount of layering at the crown of your head. This will give you extra height at the top while maintaining all that density along the bottom.
- A Pixie Cut
If you want to make your hair appear thicker without having to build a bunch of volume, consider a pixie cut like this one. It might require a few more trips to the salon for touch-ups than you're used to, but the stylists say the more trims, the better for your thin ends—no matter the length of your cut.
- A Long Pixie Cut
Just because you have a pixie doesn't mean you can't build volume. Opt for a longer pixie style if you like a tousled, textured look. Heat styling can be particularly brutal on thinner hair, which is why Brice stresses the importance of using a heat protectant and using a lower temperature on your styling tools.
- An Air-Dried Blunt Cut
Izquierdo agrees with the whole heat styling thing and recommends air-drying your hair whenever possible. Your stylist can help you find a cut that air-dries well with your natural texture. And whenever you wash your hair, make sure to use the right shampoos for thin or fine hair with gentle formulas to nourish the scalp and help you to retain your length.
- A Lightly Layered Cut for Curls
Although too many layers can thin out the ends, a few layers can give a little movement and pick-me-up to curls that appear flat. Just make sure you're seeing a stylist who's very familiar with cutting curly hair so you get the results you want.
- A Blunt Mid-Length Haircut
If a short blunt bob isn't for you, go with a medium length cut instead. And in case you thought that blunt ends meant you had to part ways with your beach waves, think again. Adding a slight bend to your hair can give you the texture you want without a bunch of choppy layers.
- Face-Framing Layers
Another way to give layers a try if you're not into a blunt cut is with face-framing layers and bangs. Izquierdo says fringe is great for highlighting facial features and creating more body so your hair doesn't lie flat against your face and can flow more freely.
- A Little Layering and a Little Color
“If you have thin hair you want to make sure you're giving it as much love as possible,” Brice says. In other words, more trims and reparative treatments, fewer chemical services. If you do choose a color or lightening service, make sure your stylist is using bond-building technology, like Olaplex, to keep it strong and healthy.
- A Voluminous Bob Haircut
As Izquierdo explains it, hair will feel lighter and airier with body and movement, so don't be afraid of a haircut. You might be surprised just how thick and full your hair looks and feels with a bob haircut like this one.
- A Blunt Cut With Lightly Layered Ends
Izquierdo says a blunt cut with a little movement on the ends is a great option for those with fine hair, so ask your stylist to break up the ends a little with a cut like this one.
- A Bob With Bangs
As far as bangs go, Brice is a big fan of 'em for those with thinner hair, depending on your face shape and personal style. If you've always dreamt of trying bangs and a bob, why not try them both?!
- A Side Part
If your middle part is making your roots look flat or sparse, try switching up your hair part. Whenever my hair is looking a little too comfortable and settled in, I go and switch it up to instantly create more volume, so consider making a similar change for your next cut.
- A Short Curly Cut With a Side Part
To maintain the look of healthy and bouncy curls, keep the ends in check. “Thin hair has the tendency to look stringy when it loses its shape,” Federico says. “If you keep it manicured, it can look denser.”
- A Reshape
Don't know what you want? Ask for a shape-up. On appointments when I need more than a trim but don't really have a look in mind, I let my stylist do whatever my hair needs to look full and healthy again. “Clients tend to want to let their hair grow as long as possible and not cut off enough length, but a significant cut and reshape will remove dead weight, keep a fuller weight line at the ends, and add movement back into the hair,” Izquierdo explains.
- A Subtle Cut and Color
Sometimes you don't have to do a whole lot to make a big difference, so don't underestimate a straight-across bob cut and a simple color. According to Federico, a single-process color or color deposit can help to make limp strands feel denser.
- A Long Cut With Full Ends
If you love long hair, by all means! Someone with thin hair can absolutely grow their hair longer, and if you choose a longer length, just be consistent with your haircuts. Izquierdo says this is super important to stay on top of any breakage or split ends and maintain a good shape while growing.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.