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Lessons On Hair Volume

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The Violet Files

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Here’s the long and short of it: no matter what your length, volume—and, usually, the desire for more of it—is part of your hair vocabulary.

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One need only scan the hair aisle of their local drugstore to understand just how fervent the desire for volume remains, name-checked, as it is, on dozens of bottles promising to restore it, boost it, or create it. And why we’re so obsessed with the idea of volume isn’t simply that bigger is better. Much like a natural rosy flush on the cheeks is synonymous with youth and vitality, the same is true of a voluminous head of hair. With that in mind, we talked to experts for tricks on how to turn the volume up.


Maybe you’re born with it? Well, not exactly. When it comes to hair volume, your destiny is mostly predetermined by genetics. But age and certain diet, health and lifestyle issues can also play a part. Dr. Francesca Fusco, a dermatologist and Dove hair expert, says hormonal shifts can lead to thinning and loss of volume for women in their premenopausal years. Other factors to blame, adds nutritionist and medical herbalist Daniela Turley, may be polycystic ovaries, an underactive thyroid, iron deficiency anemia, and, as always, stress.


Of course, products that are volume-specific have been designed with it in mind, but, says celebrity stylist and creator of Harry Josh Pro Tools, Harry Josh, for those with significantly thin hair, a clarifying shampoo might be your best bet. “Many women who have fine hair will notice that their roots tend to get flat or oily and shampoos that clarify will help strip the hair of any product or oil and give strands a thicker feel, almost like right after a color treatment,” he explains. And with conditioner, while the formula matters, to retain volume your technique matters more Josh points out. “Always ensure that conditioner is completely washed out or just focus the product on your ends,” he says. Another factor to be mindful of with cleansing, says Fusco, is that if you have dandruff, and it’s left untreated, it can lead to inflammation and increased shedding so regularly swap in a treatment product, like the Act + Acre Cold Processed Scalp Detox, if that is an issue.

Before amassing a trove of styling products bear this piece of hair wisdom in mind: the enemy of volume is an overload of product so choose what you use judiciously. For finer hair types, stylist Cervando Maldonado suggests selecting between a mousse or a volumizing spray. “Mousse will give a little more texture and action to the hair, whereas volumizer, sprayed on the roots and the ends, will add more lift and hold,” he explains. If you have normal hair that can withstand a bit more product, Maldonado says you can cocktail both, using mousse from the top through the ends of the hair then volumizer through the crown and around the ears, while for those with curly hair, mousse should be your foundational one-and-only.

No matter what your natural texture, to address mid-day style crashes or in-between washing days, a dry shampoo should be in everyone’s kit. “Hairspray works but is often alcohol-based so it can actually make hair look wet, flat or just hard, but a dry shampoo uses different types of starches to suck up oil and lift the root,” says Josh, who takes sections of the hair spraying at the root then rubbing it in with his fingers. Or celebrity stylist and founder of Ouai, Jen Atkin, likes to up the ante with a texturizer: “it’s like dry shampoo and hairspray had a baby.”

How you blowdry your hair can also affect its potential for volume. For curly hair always, says Josh, use a diffuser, while for finer hair, Atkin advises a multi-pronged approach. “Sometimes using a brush the whole time while blow drying will smooth the cuticle and hair too much and the result will be too flat, so if hair is thinner I recommend rough-drying 90% with your fingers then for the last 10% use a brush just to smooth the ends,” she says.

And just as there are products to beeline for when volume is a priority, there are also those which should be steadily avoided. Most serums, oils, blowdry creams or anything silicone-based unless it’s really lightweight will weigh hair down. “Also try to steer clear of alcohol-based formulas as they dry out hair and contribute to breakage,” adds Josh.



Maldonado’s favorite volume booster requires just three rollers: after blow-drying pin them in a row at the crown then do your makeup, get dressed, brush your teeth, then take them out and adjust accordingly. The old-school trick of flipping over the hair while drying (a powerful blowdryer like the T3 Featherweight StyleMax is key) can actually help. Atkin likes to apply mousse to damp hair focusing on the root, then flip, blow dry upside down, and finish with a cold blast. Or, she says, change your part. “Once you are done styling the hair with a middle part, swap hair to create a side part for instant volume,” she explains.


If volume is a concern, your haircut should be too. Too-long hair without any layers will not do you any favors when it comes to volume. “Layers tend to add and disperse volume,” explains Josh, who also advises that those with thin hair avoid bangs which will occupy precious real estate.


Adjusting your diet and incorporating certain herbs or supplements (we love the Philip Kingsley Tricho Complex Nutritional Supplement) can jumpstart your volumizing regimen, says Turley. Since inadequate iron is a primary cause of hair loss in women, try adding iron-rich foods (like lean beef, chicken, eggs, tuna, beans, tofu, and spinach) into your diet or taking supplemental iron. Same goes for protein. “As hair is made from amino acids (methionine, lysine, cysteine, arginine, tyroside, glutamine), I recommend eating three playing card-sized amounts of high-quality protein a day from a variety of sources,” says Turley. “Many of my patients who start having a daily cup of bone broth report that hair starts to grow more rapidly and thicker.” Be mindful to get enough zinc (found in protein-rich foods and oysters), silica (found in oats, sunflower seeds, Jerusalem artichokes and wheat), and Vitamin C (found in fresh fruits and vegetables like citrus and tomatoes), and consider supplements like B-vitamins, especially biotin which is important for hair growth, or horsetail, which is high in silica. And, when used externally, Turley says studies have shown ingredients like Japanese cyprus, lavender, peppermint oil, and chrysanthemum zawadskii (very popular in Korea) promote hair growth as well.