Thick hair or getting thicker hair is one of the most polarizing subjects in the hair world. If you have it, you probably get complimented on it quite often. If you don’t…well, that’s probably why you’re here reading this right now, isn’t it?
So let’s get the bad news out of the way:
Hair thickness is actually determined by genetics. If your parents and grandparents had thick hair, you’re more likely to have a thicker hair shaft yourself. If your whole family has fine, pin-straight hair, that’s probably what you’ll have all of your life, too.
But here’s the good news: genetics don’t necessarily have to hold you back.
In fact, there’s a lot you can do to get those Disney princess, lusciously-thick locks you crave right at home, even if you have the straightest, thinnest hair in the world.
Learn how below!
Ditch the Sulfates
Still using drugstore products or low-end salon shampoos and conditioners? Check the label to see whether they contain any kind of sulfates.
Cheaper products often use chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate to make their formulas lather. That might feel and look awesome in the shower, but at the end of the day, it can really do a number on your hair shaft.
So, what makes them so awful, anyway? Sulfates essentially strip the moisture out of your hair, and they remove natural oils, color, and any special treatments right along with it.
The hair shaft becomes more brittle, making it harder for it to hold a wave or curl. This can also result in hair loss.
So what should you use instead? Ask your hairdresser or stylist to be sure, but looking for “sulfate-free” and “paraben-free” products is a great start.
Skip the Dry Shampoo
Dry shampoo is heavenly when you’re in a pinch and perfect for stretching out time between washes. And washing your hair less isn’t actually a bad thing, either.
Washing too often can actually strip away too many oils, leaving your hair dry, damaged, and completely unmanageable. But that treasured dry shampoo spray you love so much might not be doing you any real favors, especially if you use it too often.
Most formulas are made with alcohol in combination with an absorbent powder, like starch. This is super effective at absorbing oil, but it also causes moisture to evaporate away from the hair shaft at a faster rate.
Over time, too much dry shampoo lead to build-up that blocks the pores on your scalp. This debris eventually closes in over the hair follicle, preventing it from growing in as thick. Sometimes, it will even cause the hair shaft to split or break long before its natural life cycle ends.
Don’t be afraid to use dry shampoo now and again – it won’t harm anything as long as you use a good brand.
However, if you find yourself using it daily, ask yourself why…and then try to find a fix for that problem instead.
Nurture Your Scalp
Speaking of your scalp…it matters. A LOT.
Well, to be more clear, the skin on your scalp matters. An excessively dry scalp allows dead skin cells to build up; this can also choke out the hair shaft.
In such a restrictive environment, hair is forced to grow in smaller, thinner, or even slightly deformed in order to compensate.
Here’s a bit of good news: healthy scalp maintenance is actually pretty fun!
Start by using your fingertips to gently massage your scalp for at least a minute or two each time you wash. Use a shampoo brush to really get in there; it’ll increase circulation and allow those old dead skin cells to simply fall away.
Once you’re all done washing, massage a few drops of argan oil or peppermint oil into your scalp – just take care not to spread it down onto the ends. This will nourish your skin and set it up for healthy hair production.
Put the Flat Iron Down
…Or curling iron, or blow dryer.
Whatever form of heat you use, it can seriously damage your hair. Double the damage if you aren’t using protectants or you use it too often.
The higher the temperature, the worse the damage – and that damage does accumulate when you use multiple tools in the same session.
When you use high-heat tools, you soften and reform the hair shaft like a piece of plastic. Hair is flexible, which is exactly why you can do it in the first place…but like plastic, too much heat will eventually cause it to burn.
In the case of your hair shaft, the first thing singed away is the outer cuticle. Once that’s gone, your hair has a much harder time holding on to moisture and retaining any sort of shape.
The result is limp, lifeless hair and a skinnier hair shaft.
Sure, it’s fast in the morning when you’re in a rush, but are those precious few minutes really worth it?
If you must use heat, always use a protectant first – and process your hair on the lowest possible setting you can for the shortest amount of time. Go au natural whenever you can.
Get Your Diet on Track
This is one case when beauty really does come from within.
Scalp and hair health are both affected by your nutrition (or lack thereof, if you’ve been hitting the pizza shop a little too often).
In order for your hair to grow and stay healthy, you need to be taking in plenty of proteins and healthy fats. Too much saturated fat, too few vitamins and minerals, and a lack of amino acids can absolutely cause thinning of the hair shaft as well as dryness, brittleness, and breakage.
Here’s a few hair-friendly food ideas to get you started:
- Nuts, including macadamia, peanut, and walnut.
- Seeds, including sunflower seeds, pine nuts, and poppy seeds.
- Fruits, including papaya, mango, and pineapple.
- Vegetables, including spinach, broccoli, and pumpkin.
- Lean protein, including baked chicken breast, fish, oysters, and sardines.
- Eggs, chicken, duck or quail – all contain high levels of biotin.
Remember – there’s no such thing as a “bad” or forbidden food. It’s all about moderation, so don’t be afraid to indulge now and again!
Boost Your Diet with Supplements
If you’ve tried all of the above suggestions to no avail, you might actually need to consider supplementing with a few key hair nutrients. The truth is that some people just seem to require a little bit more of a boost than others.
Try taking a good multivitamin for women – most are packed with ingredients hair follicles absolutely adore.
Vitamin C is especially important because of its antioxidant effect on the hair follicle, your skin, and your overall scalp. There’s also a considerable amount of evidence that it helps your body produce collagen and prevents free radical damage.
Or if you’re feeling particularly experimental, you might try one of the many hair supplements available on the open market now. Most contain a mixture of straight vitamins and minerals with biotin, collagen, and B12.
Just be aware that the jury is still out on just how effective they really are at thickening the hair shaft.
So now that you have some natural ways to get thicker hair, you can finally say goodbye to bad hair days! Because let’s be honest, just having fuller thicker hair is a fabulous hairstyle all in itself!