By Ellie Krupnick
“Just sleep with it in a braid,” friends have told me. “Just use some mousse and scrunch it with your hands,” others have suggested. “How about a curling iron?”
Nope, nope and nope. As any girl with fine, limp hair like mine knows, the easy fixes that work for wavy or curly hair won’t do their magic on volume-less tresses. Getting bounce takes a careful series of steps as well as non-steps, aka things you should not do. Here are the tricks women with straight, fine hair should know, based on my own hair journey.*
DO wash your hair often.
Curlier, thicker hair tends to be drier and therefore does best with fewer washes and benefits from the buildup of natural oils. But the minute my fine hair gets oily, it gets weighed down and screams out for a wash. More grease makes it limper. (Just don’t go overboard.)
DO NOT use conditioner on your roots.
Conditioner is used to improve the texture of your hair, smoothing down the hair cuticle so strands are glossy and soft. But some of the ingredients in conditioner, including oils and silicones, can weigh hair down. That’s the last thing your flat hair needs, particularly at the roots. So use conditioner sparingly — I just use it on the bottom of my hair, no higher than the nape of my neck.
DO NOT sleep on wet hair.
Thin, fine hair doesn’t bounce back into shape like thicker hair, mainly because it doesn’t bounce at all. I’ve found that sleeping on wet hair leaves my hair with weird kinks and cowlicks in the morning that I can’t get rid of without a straightening iron … or another shower. Which totally defeated the point. The only exception here I’ve found is to braid your wet hair and sleep on it. You’ll end up with some waves, albeit nothing close to the pro-level, Blake Lively style you might’ve beeen hoping for.
DO let your hair dry completely before leaving the house.
This may not be science, but I’ve found that my hair achieves maximum bounce when I am able to fully brush it out once it’s dry. When I leave the house with it wet and let it air-dry without a good brush-through afterwards, it’s even limper and more lifeless than usual, not to mention a little filmy-looking. Being able to give hair a good brush, particularly at different angles (try tipping your head over for volume), can inject some life into it.
DO blow dry your hair upside down.
Flipping your head over is the best way to get to the roots and really give hair that extra lift. Adding a little volumizing mousse to damp your hair — but just a little, see below! — for extra boost and sheen.
DO NOT use lots of products.
The biggest pitfall I encountered when wrangling my teenage hair was using products — specifically the trendy products my friends were using, like mousse and spray and the early 2000s favorite, “scrunching gel.” The so-called scrunching gel literally slid off my hair into a gelatinous puddle of gook. Lesson learned: You can only scrunch, tousle and zhuzh your hair into beachy waves if it has some waves to begin with.
DO NOT use a plastic comb on dry hair.
Staticky hair happens when electrons, which are negatively-charged, fly off your hair, leaving your strands with positive charges that resist each other. Plastic will make your hair more staticky, whereas a metal comb won’t, since metal is conductive.
DO use hairspray if you’re going to attempt curls or an updo.
Lots and lots of spray. Otherwise, that Drybar blowout will be gone within the hour. Good luck.
DO NOT get bangs.
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, and there are plenty of thin-haired gals who will look lovely with a fringe. But in my own experience, if having enough voluminous hair on your head is already a concern for you, cutting a chunk of it off to make bangs won’t help. What’s more is that limp, oft-greasy hair makes for even limper, greasier bangs, as the thin layer of hair will rub right up against your forehead. The more you touch them and try to fluff them (which good luck, because thin hair just doesn’t “fluff”), the greasier and stringier they’ll get. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
DO let hairstylists backcomb your hair.
Yes, it looks like a surefire hair ruiner that will take you two years to untangle. But for a more complicated, long-lasting salon hairdo (think: what you get done when you’re a bridesmaid), backcombing can provide that extra lift that makes a professionally-done style look glamorous.
DO NOT fight it. When your hair has gotten stringy and there’s no shower in sight, just put it in a ponytail.
Fine hair looks great in a pony. When it comes to being able to tie hair back, we fine-haired girls actually have it the best.