As someone who spent 30 minutes backcombing her roots every morning before middle school, I am extremely sensitive to the plight of having hair so fine and flat, it won’t do a damn thing. I have been there, and I have come out on the other side, split ends all grown out and only mildly traumatized from being told by a popular boy that my hair looked “like a wig.”
True, nobody ever escapes adolescence unscathed, but in my opinion, bouncy hot-girl hair is the best revenge. These days, my fine hair is anything but flat—and I don’t even own a fine-tooth comb. With the countless volumizing shampoos, conditioners, powders, mousses, foams, sprays, maximizers, and more available on the market, nobody has to go through life with lifeless hair.
Here, 10 of my top picks, which I wish were around when I was a tween whose self-worth grew directly in proportion to the height of her roots.
Every good hairstyle starts with a strong foundation. See: this gentle clarifying shampoo, which rids hair of buildup for a clean canvas without drying out even the finest, most fragile strands. Particularly necessary for the infrequent shampooer who accumulates dry shampoo residue like it's their job. (I see you.)
R+Co Oblivion Clarifying Shampoo, $24; at R+Co
If a powder texturizer has yet to make its way into your hair-expanding routine, now would be a really good time to get involved. This genius product is unique and difficult to describe, but to summarize, let's just say that the powder turns into a liquid when you shake it onto your roots, where it's then absorbed to create touchable fullness in seconds. Just try it.
Big Sexy Hair Powder Play Volumizing & Texturizing Powder, $10.39; at Target
If volumizing mousse, medium-hold gel, sea salt spray, and a hydrating cream had a baby, this would be it. Still with me? Good, because this new styling product is a serious game changer for all hair types and textures—but it's especially excellent for fine hair that falls flat no matter what you try to do with it. Just a quarter-sized amount will enhance natural waves, create plenty of texture and separation, moisturize dry ends, and impart flexible hold, no blowdryer necessary.
IGK Sunday Funday Texture Foam, $29; at Sephora
Soft, silky, freshly washed fine hair is the devil's plaything… and by "devil" I mean flat, limp strands and frizz. That's where this light-hold texturizing spray comes in. A favorite of Anh Co Tran, the patron saint of tousled, lived-in hair, it'll take your lackluster lengths and turn them into a thing of sexy, dirty-in-a-good-way wonder.
L'Oréal Professionnel Tecni.Art Wild Stylers Next Day Hair Texturizing Spray, $24; at Ulta
It may sound like sacrilege to suggest that there's something out there worthy of replacing your favorite dry shampoo, but don't shoot the messenger: This lightweight hairspray absorbs oil as it builds texture, like a dry shampoo and a styling spray in one. Mist it on dry hair—roots, lengths, front layers, wherever—and work it in with your hands for sky-high volume and no suspicious gray patches to speak of.
OUAI Texturizing Hair Spray, $26; at OUAI
There's a special place in my heart for this dual-action product, which combines traditional volumizing ingredients like you'd find in a gel with a lightweight hydrating cream that leaves hair soft and silky. Basically, it's the best way to get full, bouncy hair that stays shiny and touchable, if a little bit of roughed-up texture just isn't your thing.
TRESemmé Beauty-Full Volume Hair Maximizer, $4.98; at Walmart
Big, babely hair in a spray bottle? Yes, plz. Spritz this liquid-to-powder (that's right) mist at the roots of your hair for oil absorption and major lift or all over for some added texture and grip. One of the best things about this one is that you can't overdo it: The deceptively lightweight formula can be layered and reworked as much as you please, even if a few days go by before your next shampoo.
Joico Hair Shake Finishing Texturizer Spray, $11.98; at Loxa Beauty
Grandiose don't lie: If you want massive hair, this is where you'll find it, along with the perfect amount of hold and structure sans crunch. There's heat protection, hydration, strengthening, and hair repair to be had in addition—what more could you possibly need?
Oribe Grandiose Hair Plumping Mousse, $38; at Oribe
Volume, moisture, shine, and heat protection all in one, this nourishing cream is a multitasker for the ages. It adds incredible shape and body and lustrous shine without greasiness, and its heat-defending properties make it perfect as a pre-blowdry styling aid. (Of course, you could also just scrunch and go.)
Sachajuan Volume Cream, $29; at NET-A-PORTER
Conditioner has kind of a bad rap when it comes to fine hair—the general perception is that it'll add undesirable weight and make flat hair even flatter than it was to begin with. And then there is this problem-solving formula, which uses weightless oils and aloe vera gel to add shine, increase manageability, and keep hair healthy without making it blah.
Yarok Feed Your Volume Conditioner, $34; at Integrity Botanicals