It seems like no matter our given hair, most of us spend way too much of our time wishing for something else. Those with curly hair will go to great lengths to straighten it, just as natural brunettes will spend hours in colorists' chairs trying to achieve the perfect blonde. And while everyone has the right to express themselves through the haircut, color, or style of their choosing, education around best practices for one's own hair could be the difference between hating what grows out of our heads and loving it. According to Erica Conan, ColorProof director of education, this is especially true when it comes to picking the best hair colors for thin hair.
While those with thin hair have been convinced for years that ultra-light colors are the only ones that work for this hair type, this veteran stylist disagrees. "Color preservation is key to maintaining a healthy, thicker look to your hair," Conan explains. In fact, she thinks that as long as the right methods are used, hues from every color family can be considered for thin hair. Read on for the five colors Conan suggests for thin hair along with styling advice to get the most out of your color.
Instead of Single Allover Color…
Try: Dimensional Color
"When choosing a hair color, the first thing to think about is the level of maintenance you are able to keep up with," Conan says. "Stay away from a single allover color if you are not able to visit your stylist often enough to keep it looking fresh." Washed-out or faded color draws way more attention to the less desirable characteristics of thin hair, so multi-tonal color that doesn't draw attention to especially thin areas is a good move.
Styling tip: Conan says there are styling tricks you can use to mask the grow-out between color services, such as adding volume at the root with a texturizing powder or spray and hair parts that are more zigzag than straight. She says these tips alone do wonders for hiding root grow-out, thus helping hair look more full.
Instead of Stark Grow-Out…
Try: Intentional Shadow Roots
While Conan is a firm believer that shades from most color families can work well for thin hair as long as the right methods are used, she cautions against the dreaded stark line of demarcation between your color and your roots. "Adding contrast in color shades will add the illusion of density, but talk to your stylist about also adding a shadow root to create depth at the root area or multiple tones throughout for a 3D effect," she says. This way, there's added dimension in your hair and a little more leeway for your hair to grow out.
Styling tip: Celebrity hairstylist Nate Rosenkranz says that while creating volume is obviously important for those with thin hair, it's also crucial to use the right brushes that won't cause undue hair loss. "All brushes are not created equal. Brushing can be one of the leading causes of breakage and damage," he says. Aside from choosing brushes with bristles that glide easily through the hair, Rosenkranz also reminds us that we should always brush from end to root and be extra gentle when detangling. "Never pull through tangles or knots. This will cause breakage and damage," he says.
Instead of Flat Color…
Try: Strategic Highlights
"I love to see beautiful dimension in thinner hair," says Conan. "By adding multiple tones and using different color techniques, the hair can look thicker and fuller by tricking the eye. You can choose any color and, with the help of your stylist, achieve a beautiful multi-tonal look that adds the density you need visually." Face-framing highlights, blonde babylights, and hair-painting techniques like balayage are just a few of the options that can work well here.
Styling tip: "It's important to invest in quality heat tools. They can be pricey, but it’s well worth the investment when it comes to maintaining the health of your hair," says Rosenkranz. "High-quality tools that help to protect and speed up the styling process mean less time hair is ultimately exposed to heat, reducing potential damage. This is especially true if you have fine or thin hair, which is more easily compromised. My personal favorites are the Bio Ionic 10X Ultralight Speed Dryer ($295) and the OnePass Styling Iron ($199). Both tools speed up the heat-styling process as well as incorporate the brand’s moisturizing heat technology, which helps hair stay hydrated even while applying heat."
Instead of High-Maintenance Color…
Try: Low-Maintenance Color
Conan is adamant that color maintenance is of the utmost importance if you have thin hair. She says the easiest colors to care for are multi-tonal and not flat so that there's wiggle room for your natural hair to grow in a bit without being so noticeable. "This is especially important for those with thin, naturally blonde hair who choose to go darker or red," she says. "As your natural color starts to grow out, your roots will look dramatically lighter even if you only went a couple of shades darker than your natural color. If your hair is naturally thin and light already, it can sometimes look extra thin and even resemble bald spots in some areas."
Styling tip: "Use every step of your routine to achieve maximum fullness with the end goal of preserving your color and creating the illusion of thickness through your style," says Conan. She notes that special care should be taken when selecting texturizing products since many of them contain salts that naturally strip away hair color.
Instead of Dramatically Different Color…
Try: Natural-Looking Allover Color
"If an allover color is your goal, don’t go for anything too dramatically different from your natural hair color," says Conan. "Shades that are too far off from your natural hair color [should be avoided] unless you can commit to a higher-maintenance color routine. By keeping it natural, you mitigate the risk of lighter roots looking too translucent or darker roots weighing your hair down."
Styling tip: "Fine and thin hair is especially susceptible to breakage, and the strands are often weaker and more delicate," says Rosenkranz. "Pulling your hair back in a bun or ponytail can add stress to your strands, causing tension, and ultimately, the strands can snap. Opt for a fabric scrunchie or elastic like the Goody Forever Ouchless Elastics ($5) that are gentler on your hair versus one made of rubber or plastic that can easily get caught and tangled."