The Truth About What Volumizing Products Really Do to Your Hair

Photo: ImaxTree

Photo: ImaxTree

We all want what we can’t have, and if you were born with fine hair, you probably learned long ago that you’re stuck with it. Products and treatments that claim to thicken the hair shaft are only effective if the hair has become fine due to damage, says Theresa Adams, the Master Stylist at Dop Dop Salon in NYC. Bummer, right? The only real alternative for naturally fine haired ladies is to fake it with volumizing products, but how exactly do these products work, and how can we use them to their full (ha) potential?

“Thickening products create a net around the hair, making the strand feel plumper,” says Adams. “Volumizing products contain ingredients that create hold so that you get volume in the hair. The ingredients must also work to solve the concerns of those with fine hair—a weak cortex, oil buildup, and dry hair.” She recommends the L’Oreal Professionnel Volumetry line because it addresses all three. She says, “Intra-cylane densifies the hair and acts as a filler at the heart of the hair fiber. Salicylic acid gently purifies the scalp and removes oily buildup, and Hydralight Technology, which is unique to the line, lightly hydrates and conditions the hair fiber without weighing it down.”

With the high concentration of volumizing products in the market, when should you use each type of product—and for what purpose? Adams breaks down each category.

Root Lifting Spray
“Root lifting spray focuses on the first inch of the hair as it is growing out of the scalp to create volume and density,” says Adams. Put simply: It pulls the hair away from the scalp to create the illusion of fullness.

Volumizing Cream
A volumizing cream or serum focuses on the hair shaft to give volume throughout, using polymers to coat each fiber and add subtle stiffness. Once it dries, each hair pushes against the other, adding temporary volume. Adams recommends using a combination of the spray and the cream to target the root and the mid-lengths of hair in order to achieve the desired volume.

Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner
Since most shampoos and conditioners leave behind a residue to optimize hydration, they also weigh down fine hair. Volumizing alternatives are unique to many cleansing and conditioning products because they cleanse without adding weight, but they don’t necessarily add volume on their own. “Stay away from shea butter and argan oil because the weight is too heavy for fine hair,” says Adams. “If you want something to moisturize, especially in the winter, you should look for lighter ingredients like royal jelly and linseed oil.”

Read more: A Handy Guide to the Confusing World of Hair Products