Pump Up Your Hair Volume

Want to add lift to your tresses? We asked for hair-raising tips and product picks from three experts.

Reviewed by Karyn Grossman, MD on August 12, 2012
From the WebMD Archives

Some people are born with thick, full hair -- others, not so much.  We asked dermatologists and hair stylists to share their favorite products and techniques for increasing hair volume.

Tricks for Increasing Hair Volume

When in doubt, leave your hair loose.

"Avoid placing excessive tension on the hair from styles such as tight ponytails or braids," says Andrew Alexis, MD, MPH. "This can lead to thinning hair on the front edges of the hairline called traction alopecia."

Be picky with your conditioner.

"Use conditioners made for fine hair, which are typically lighter and will not weigh down hair," says Joshua Zeichner, MD. "Stay away from 'intensive conditioners,' which may be too heavy if your hair is fine."

Don't over-process your hair.

"Heat-damaged hair is even more susceptible to breakage when topped with dyes, perms, or relaxers," says Jeanine Downie, MD. She suggests you perm, relax, or dye, but never all three all at once.

Top Product Picks of Paul Cucinello

Cucinello is the creative director of Chris Chase Salon in New York.

TRESemmé Fresh Start Volumizing Dry Shampoo ($4.99) "Dry shampoo is a great styling product because it absorbs excess oils that can weigh hair down. It also adds dry texture to clean hair, which pumps up volume."

L'Oréal Excellence Creme Permanent Hair Color ($8.99) "Permanent hair color packs a lot of pigment into the cuticle of your hair, which decreases translucency and increases the diameter of the hair shaft, creating a
much fuller, shinier effect."

Shu Uemura Ample Angora Volumizing Light Foam ($38) "I think even women with curly hair love volume; they just don't want frizz! Try
using a mousse like this. It's great because it smooths out unruly hair and makes it really full without any stickiness."

Oribe Shampoo and Conditioner for Magnificent Volume ($36-$39) "Some volumizing shampoos, like this one, have a higher pH level, which opens the cuticle of the hair a little and keeps hair from looking too flat. If you want maximum lift, keep conditioner mainly on your ends and away from your scalp because the conditioner will weigh hair down."

Top Product Picks of Hilary Young

Young is the owner of Cheveux Studio for Hair in Corte Madera, Calif.

Enjoy Professional Hair Spray ($18.64) "It's easy to get lift with hair spray, a blow dryer, and the right technique. Flip your head so your damp strands are pointing toward the ground and dry with a dryer set to medium. Flip your head back up and 'over-direct' strands by brushing them upward, against your scalp in the opposite direction you would like hair to fall. With hair still over-directed, wait 15 seconds for it to cool in that direction. Style as usual and spray with a light mist of this strong-hold, fast-drying hairspray."

Goody Start.Style.Finish Get It Smooth Double-Sided Smoothing Comb ($2.49) "To get the most effective and volume-enhancing backcomb or 'tease,' lift small sections of hair straight up and hold the ends with your fingers. Insert a comb about three to four inches from the scalp and push the hair straight down. Pull the comb completely out of the hair and then reinsert at original starting point. Repeat until you get the desired amount of height. Backcombing itself isn't damaging. It's the way we comb it out at the end of the day that causes most of the damage. Be gentle; start at the bottom and slowly work strands smooth."

Desert Essence Organics Lemon Tea Tree Shampoo ($8.99) "Clarifying shampoo is designed to break down and wash away all of the buildup from the various hair products we use daily, returning strands to their original state. Just getting rid of the additional weight gives hair a lift. I recommend using a clarifying shampoo every fourth wash."

Big Sexy Hair Root Pump Volumizing Spray Mousse ($17.50) "When using a root booster, start with a little and add more if you need it. If your hair flops or looks super stiff, you've used too much. Root booster should be applied by holding wet hair up and spraying the product 1 to 2 inches from the roots."

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Show Sources


Paul Cucinello, creative director, Chris Chase Salon, New York.

Sherri Jessee, owner, Sherri’s Hair Salon, Bristol, Va.

Andrew Alexis, MD, director, Skin of Color Center, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, New York.

Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York.

Jeanine Downie, MD, dermatologist, Montclair, N.J.

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