8 Ways To Disguise Thinning Hair
If only laugh lines and dated pop culture references were the only age-revealers. “Hair, like skin, ages,” says hairstylist Julien Farel, owner of the eponymous salons in New York City. “The scalp produces fewer hairs as we age, and the strands themselves get thinner.” But just because your hairisthinner doesn’t mean it has to look the part.
Lasting solutions like minoxidil serums, hair transplants, and laser therapy are good long-term options, but there’s often an awkward gap between treatments and results, explains Robert Leonard, a hair transplant surgeon and diplomat of the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery based in Boston, Massachusetts. Enter our smart styling solutions for a fuller, healthier look, no matter how much you’re working with.
One of the fastest ways to create the illusion of more abundant hair is to cut it off, lopping off inches and adding strategic layers. Shorter hair tends to look healthier and have more volume, since it’s not weighed down by extra inches, says Edward Tricomi, the New York City-based master stylist and cofounder of Warren-Tricomi Salons. Layers add volume, too—ask that layers be concentrated near your face while the back is left full, to create the illusion of both body and thickness, says George Papanikolas, a bi-coastal hairstylist and colorist who works at Andy Lecompte Salon in Los Angeles and Rita Hazan Salon in New York City. If you’d like bangs, make sure they start further back on your head so the fringe looks full.
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Here’s the upside of having to cover up all those grays: color swells your hair’s cuticle, making it bigger in diameter and lending extra volume, says Papanikolas.
Your healthy color plan: touch up roots just once a month and highlights every two to three to avoid weakening the hair by over-processing it, and aim a few shades lighter than your natural color to make visible patches of scalp or a too-wide part less noticeable.
It’s only on your scalp for a few minutes, but the shampoo you use can really make a difference. Choose a volumizing shampoo without sulfates, detergents that are harsh on hair but not necessary for a cleansed scalp. This type of formula strikes the perfect balance: It removes excess oils that make hair look limp, but is gentle enough to support a healthy shine. We like Kevin Murphy’s Plumping Wash (; kevinmurphy.com.au) which removes residue without sulfates or parabens and nourishes roots with stimulating ginger root and nettle extracts.
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Those precious minutes before your hair dries post-shower are the prime time to add volume. Lift roots by working a volumizing mousse or spray into hair near the root, Tricomi says. Our favorites are Livingproof’s Full Thickening Mousse (; livingproof.com), which creates lasting volume that never feels stiff or sticky, and Matrix’s Biolage VolumeBloom Full Lift Volumizer Spray (; biolage.matrix.com) adds bounce without parabens. No matter which you prefer, make sure it’s the only product you’re putting on your hair post-shower—too many products, even volumizing ones, will weigh down your hair.
The prep is important, but if you expect your hair to look more lively than cooked spaghetti, you need to take your blowout seriously, too. And it’s going to take some elbow grease. Using a round brush, pull sections of hair up and in the opposite direction of the way it naturally falls—all the hair that rests on the right side of your head should be pulled toward the left, and vice versa, Farel explains. While you’re at it, protect your hair from damage by using a natural-bristle round brush. “Metal brushes put too much heat directly on strands, which is especially tough on fine, delicate hair,” he adds. We like the Ibiza Hair Z series (; ), whose natural boar bristles are swirled to grip hair for a more effective root lift.
Coming at just-dried with another hot tool can overwork your hair’s texture, Farel says. Instead, further pump up hair by letting it cool on Velcro rollers—Goody’s set of self-holding rollers (; ) has a mix of sizes that works for every length of hair. Roll hair away from your face in sections, concentrating on hair from your forehead to your crown, and let set for at least 10 minutes before removing.
Creating maximum root lift is a start, but if your scalp is peeking through or your part is wider than usual, you’ll need to turn to hair fibers to fill in the gaps, Papanikolas says. The tiny, pigmented cellulose fibers bond to your hair for a thickening effect, while the color, which should be similar to your own, camouflages visible scalp. We like Keranique’s Instant FX 100% Natural Hair Fibers (; keranique.com); its plant-based formula is available in a full palette of colors so you can find your match.
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Hairspray may seem a little high-maintenance, but if you don’t want all your hard work to wear off before lunch, you’d better get spritzing. Choose a light, flexible hairsprays formula for staying power that’s anything but stiff and sticky.
Video: Simple way to disguise thinning hair.
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