If your hair is volume-challenged, then listen up: I feel your pain! Over the years, I've dealt with my fair share of limp locks, falling curls and bangs that were glued to my forehead.
Fortunately, I also happen to have this weird job called "beauty editor," where I get to meet and interview tons of top hairstylists—and steal all their best tips. You can bet your blow-dryer I've been collecting their tricks for creating max volume with min effort.
And now I'm passing them along to you! These 10 pro tips are tried and beauty editor-tested, so I KNOW they work (and if I can do them, you can do them). Some you'll want to incorporate into your daily routine, and others you'll want to bust out for special occasions.
Here's how to cheat your way to more voluminous hair:
1. Change Your Part
Chances are, you have a favourite place to part your hair. It's where your hair likes to fall naturally (somewhere in the middle or off-centre), or on the side closest to it. Problem is, that's also where your hair lies the most flat, and you're training it to stay that way.
Flipping your part to the opposite side creates instant volume at the crown; if you're worried about looking lopsided, then do it while your hair is still wet. To build the most height, try a deep side part on the opposite side in dry hair, misting lightly with hairspray to hold. This is the model-esque swoosh I've been talking about lately, which is a little bit '80s and VERY sexy.
2. Back-Brush It
Teasing has a bad rep. It doesn't have to mean aggressively back-combing your hair with a fine-toothed comb to create massive tangles (which are a nightmare to get out in the shower). You can actually create soft volume by back-brushing the roots, using a large paddle brush instead.
My preferred technique is to pin up the uppermost layer of the hair, and then back-brush the rest, working section by section. Holding each section taut and away from the head, brush in a downward motion at the roots in three quick strokes. To make the volume last, spray each back-brushed area with hairspray. Once you've completed all the sections, let down the rest of the hair, leaving it smooth.
3. Blow-Dry Upside Down
Haven't perfected your blow-dry technique? No worries—the best shortcut to a voluminous blowout is just flipping your head upside down. I know it sounds too easy, but it's exactly how my hairstylist dries my hair every time I get a haircut. (Then he finishes off my ends with a flat iron, for a "straight with volume" look.)
The reason this works is because upside down, your roots are automatically lifting off your scalp, which is how you want them to dry. I like to use this method to get my hair about 90 percent dry, and then I might do my final smoothing with a round brush. Note: If you have bangs, always dry them right side up first!
4. Boost Your Roots
Root-boosting products are your friends. Think of them as the scaffolding to your hairstyle. They provide structure and support for any lift you manually create near the roots, helping your style last all day (or even several days).
Look for a product specifically designed for fine hair, so it won't weigh you down, and apply it all over the head, right at the scalp. (I like John Frieda® Luxurious Volume Root Booster Blow Dry Lotion.) Make sure you use it on damp hair—root-boosters won't work once hair is dried. And don't be afraid to layer your volume-building products, adding mousse and/or blow-dry spray through the lengths.
5. Put in Hot Rollers
Everybody forgets about hot rollers. But hot rollers are awesome! Unlike curling irons and flat irons, there's no special technique required; just throw them in while you're doing your makeup and 20 minutes later, you'll have sweet volume. This is a great trick if your hair is already dry and it's too late to build volume into your blow-dry.
All you need to do is choose which direction you want your waves. Rolling away from the face gives you glam Hollywood waves, while towards the face creates a more vintage, Veronica Lake effect. To make your volume last, mist each section with hairspray before rolling, and let the rollers cool completely before taking out. Then brush out and shape your waves for a soft, modern look.
6. Use a Volume-Building Shampoo
It's a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised at the difference a good shampoo makes to your volume goals. My rule of thumb is to use products that are clear or at least translucent, since they're the least likely to be loaded with heavy conditioning ingredients. Nothing white and creamy for my hair, please! And yes, it IS possible to find volume-building shampoo that doesn't strip your hair and is colour-safe (John Frieda® Luxurious Volume Touchably Full Shampoo is one of them).
Also go easy on the conditioner. I only apply it to the bottom half or third of my hair, and I make sure to rinse it extra-thoroughly.
7. Crimp Your Roots
For real! Crimped hair was big in the '80s, and now it's making a comeback—but in a brand new (and non-tacky) way. Just crimping at the roots, in the under-layers of the hair, is a fantastic way to rough up the texture and make it stand out from the scalp. Can you say soft, natural-looking volume?
The best part is that it only takes a few minutes, and unlike curling irons and flat irons, requires zero expertise. And the top layer of hair completely hides the crimping from detection.
8. Sleep in a Bun
Don't knock the scrunchie. It's super-useful for this overnight volume cheat—no heat required! After showering at night, pull hair up into a high, loose bun while it's still damp, and secure with a soft elastic (tight plastic ones may create creases). Your hair will dry lifted off the scalp, so when you wake up and take it down, you'll have insta-volume, plus soft waves.
Another way to get easy volume while you sleep is with a stretchy fabric headband. Wear it across your forehead and wrap sections of damp hair around it until all the hair is wrapped up, securing with pins if required. Take it out the next morning, and you'll have gorgeous Hollywood waves.
9. Apply Dry Shampoo
Are you waiting until day two or three to use your dry shampoo? You might want to reconsider. By the time you notice your hair feels dirty, your scalp's natural oils are already sabotaging your volume, travelling down the hair shaft and starting to weigh down your strands.
I recommend a preventive approach: coating your scalp with a layer of dry shampoo as soon as you finish blow-drying. That way, there's already a barrier to the oil, stopping it in its tracks and helping your volume style to last longer. Bonus: dry shampoo is innately volume-building. Spray it through the lengths as well, to create even more texture.
10. Add Colour
If you don't lighten your hair, then here's a little secret from those of us who do. It's not just about the colour—it's also about the texture it gives you. A little bleach creates added body and roughs up the hair cuticle so it's not so "slippery". Basically, a godsend for anyone whose hair lies flat and won't hold a volume style.
But you don't have to resort to a whole new hair colour to benefit from the volumizing effect of bleach. A few peekaboo highlights, placed in the under-layers of your hair and in a tone-on-tone colour, can give you just enough of a boost, without having to worry about re-growth.
Have you tried any of these ways to create volume in your hair?
Got any tricks of your own to share? Let's hear 'em!