I'm a Beauty Editor With a Knack for Faking Super-Thick Hair—Here's How

"You don't have extensions?!" is a surprising exclamation I receive at least once a week. And, while I did have bonded extensions the summer after I graduated from college (never again), I haven't worn them since. (Unless it's temporary or for a story, mind you.)

Now, there are a few valid reasons for people's unabashed surprise when they discover all of my hair is real. First, I've been highlighting and/or bleaching the heck out of it for about 20 years. Second, I've had my fair share of disasters that have significantly damaged the integrity of my hair. Third, although I have a lot of hair, it's naturally super fine. And four, according to every single stylist I encounter, it's practically impossible to have the length and lightness of my hair simultaneously. (Apparently, I'm an anomaly.)



But my hair didn't always look like this (it used to be shoulder-length, ultra-dry, and V thin and stringy due to breakage), and I attribute its dramatic transformation to a couple of key practices like less heat styling, an amazing colorist who prioritizes the health and integrity of my hair above all else, a healthy and balanced diet, regular trims, and last but not least, volumizing shampoos and conditioners.

Interestingly, I've found that volumizing shampoos and conditioners, more so than any other volume-boosting styling products, help the most in the thickening department. (Plus, I'm lazy, so if I can get the most volumizing bang for my buck while in the shower and not via a million other products post-wash), I'm 100% in.

Below are 13 of the best shampoos and conditioners that encourage instant and long-term volume and get my seal of approval. Keep scrolling!

Best Overall: Living Proof Full Shampoo & Conditioner

Pros: Proprietary amino cleansing complex cleanses without stripping, peptides plump hair fibers, phyantriol preserves hair color and reduces damage from hot tools.

Cons: Takes several shampoos to thoroughly clean.

I was in college the first time I tried (and quickly fell in love with) these original cult favorites from Living Proof. Since then, I've definitely been around the block in terms of how many formulas I've cheated on them with, but whenever I come crawling back, I wonder why I ever strayed. This shampoo and conditioner feature the brand's Proprietary Amino Cleansing Complex, which effortlessly cleanses the hair while warding off breakage and styling-induced damage. The addition of phytantriol also preserves hair color, and the shine, body, and bounce you get are pretty unparalleled. 

Customer Review: "Love this shampoo and [conditioner] duo! I don't have fine hair, but I wanted to try a volume formula. I like that this shampoo doesn't weigh my hair down. It's very lightweight. My hair feels clean but not stripped."

The Under-$7 Pick: OGX Thick & Full + Biotin & Collagen Volumizing Shampoo & Conditioner

Pros: Budget-friendly, infused with collagen and biotin, helps hair appear thicker with a blend of vitamin B7 and hydrolyzed wheat protein.

Cons: Doesn't contain clean ingredients.

This is the best volumizing shampoo and conditioner you can pick up at the drugstore, and you'll feel the effects the second you get out of the shower and your hair starts to dry. I discovered the duo in a pinch while traveling (I'd forgotten to pack my much spendier go-to's and needed something effective and budget-friendly). The shampoo and conditioner are strategically infused with collagen—a crucial building block for healthy hair—plus extra credit hits of biotin and hydrolyzed wheat protein. 

Customer Review: "I have super thin and [weak] hair. I have been trying a lot of products, but this is by far the best [one]. I bought it this January, and it lasted four months (I wash my hair every day). It gives nice volume and smooth texture to your hair."

The Splurge That's *Truly* Worth It: Philip Kingsley Density Thickening Shampoo & Conditioner

Pros: Unique hyper-branched polymers and hydrolyzed pea peptides instantly volumize hair, while BHAs gently exfoliate the scalp for reduced breakage. Formula is sulfate-free.

Cons: Salicylic acid in the formula may not be suitable for those with a sensitive scalp, pricier than other options.

This sulfate-free volumizing duo received a seal of approval from Violet Grey, so you already know it has to be mind-blowingly good. Hyper-branched polymers and hydrolyzed pea peptides add instant volume to thin, fragile hair without stripping or causing dryness. And, because thick, healthy hair starts at the scalp, you also get a helpful dose of exfoliating BHAs, which pave the way for optimal (and fast!) hair growth. 

Customer Review: "I didn't expect this shampoo to [help me] overcome losing my hair. But I do like the way my hair looks and feels. My wife says that it has made my hair look a bit thicker. A little overpriced, but I am likely to order it again."

The Amazon-Famous One: Love Beauty and Planet Volume and Bounty Thickening Shampoo & Conditioner

Pros: Sulfate-free formula with coconut water and mimosa flower to gently cleanse and nourish hair. Coconut oil hydrates and helps strands appear thicker.

Cons: Strong smell.

This lesser-known shampoo and conditioner from Love Planet and Beauty just so happens to be one of the most popular volumizing solutions on Amazon, with nearly 4000 reviews and a solid 4.4/5 star average rating. Blame it on the thickening, shine-inducing, and hyper-moisturizing trifecta of coconut water, mimosa flower, and coconut oil. 

Customer Review: "This product smells amazing. It cleanses all hair types (over-processed/damaged to healthy) really well, without residue. It leaves your hair soft (with just the shampoo alone). I love this product. It is my new favorite."

The A+ Organic Formula: Rahua Voluminous Shampoo & Conditioner

Pros: Omega-9-rich rahua oil fortifies hair and helps prevent breakage, lavender and eucalyptus extracts offer a calming aromatherapy experience.

Cons: Doesn't really lather (for those who like one in a shampoo) and is pricier than other options.

I never loved an organic shampoo and conditioner until I discovered Rahua's truly magical formulations that are not only supremely natural and beautifully crafted but completely life-changing when it comes to the status of your hair. All of their shampoo and conditioners are superb, but if it's next-level volume and body you're after, reach for this twosome. Thanks to green tea antioxidants, citrus juice. lemongrass, omega 9-rich oils, lavender, and eucalyptus, your hair will never feel cleaner or bouncier. Plus, it smells intoxicatingly good. (Like a spa!)

Customer Review: "I have thin curly hair. One of my magazine subscriptions did a review of shampoos and conditioners. It got a good rating. When I use these products together, it is like a spa day. Love how my hair feels and looks without any other products."

The One That Smells Like Heaven: Christophe Robin Volume Shampoo & Conditioner with Rose Extracts

Pros: Enriched with rose water and baobab to gently cleanse but reserve color, restores volume, rose extracts limit loss of color pigments in the hair to keep color fresh.

Cons: Volumizing effect is more subtle than other options.

Christophe Robin's rose-infused volumizing shampoo and conditioner is an original in the industry, and the fact that it's still a number one player in the volume category speaks to its no-B.S. efficacy. Stylists love it, celebrities love it, and beauty editors love it. I recently got a blowout with the most insane bounce and movement but was confused because the stylist hadn't added any other styling products aside from a heat protectant post-wash. When I asked what shampoo and conditioner they used (and I should have known thanks to its delicate, iconic scent), they revealed it was this one. Obviously, I should have known!

Customer Review: "My new favorite volumizing shampoo. Reduces frizz and smooths my color-treated hair while adding much-needed volume since my hair is quite fine and straight. The rose scent is lovely and not synthetic, washes without weighing my hair down, and the next day my hair is still in good shape and not greasy. Love it!"

The Best for Instant Volume and Long-Term Repair: R+Co Dallas Biotin Thickening Shampoo & Conditioner

Pros: Pro-vitamin B5 provides intense hydration, saw palmetto berry extract helps hair appear thicker instantly, coconut oil strengthens hair and prevents future damage.

Cons: Strong scent.

I love a multi-tasking beauty MVP, and this is my number one formula when my fine strands need a thorough wash, TLC, and a boost of volume and body. The scent is lovely—cardamom, pineapple, tangerine, lavender, bamboo, and blonde woods—but it's the sneaky strategic hit of biotin, saw palmetto berry extract, and Pro Vitamin B5 that really makes this duo stand out against the competition. Plus, thanks to the added perk of coconut oil, you don't have to sacrifice luster and hydration.

Customer Review: "Love the shampoo and conditioner. Adds a lot of body and thickness to my thinning hair...Dallas is now my new go to. [It] really does a good job [of] making my hair thicker and fuller. Hope it works for you as well as it has for me."

The Best for Fine, Straight Hair: Virtue Full Shampoo & Conditioner

Pros: Phospholipids help fight frizz and protect against humidity. The formula contains Alpha Keratin 60ku, a healing protein identical to keratin that repairs damage. 

Cons: Pricier than other options.

My thin-haired co-workers agree that this volumizing shampoo and conditioner from Virtue is one of the best thickening duos of all time. Unlike many other volume shampoos and conditioners, this twosome excels at everything. Yes, it makes your hair feel about twice as thick, but it also does an expert job of cleaning, hydrating, and leaving colored hair perfectly pristine. The lineup of ingredients includes pink pomelo (which is rich in vitamins A, C, B1, and zinc) in addition to hydrolyzed quinoa and the brand's signature hero, Alpha Keratin 60ku—a human keratin protein that's completely unique to the brand and the hair industry in general. 

Customer Review: "I don't often write reviews, but this is worth the time. The smell is light but amazing! It lathers very well, and my scalp feels very clean after. My hair stays clean for longer too. I can go for 6 to 7 days! Must-have for fine hair. The price is worth it."

The One with Hundreds of 5-Star Reviews at Sephora: BondiBoost Hair Thickening Therapy Shampoo & Conditioner

Pros: Biotin supports healthy hair growth, amaranth extract acts as a natural hair strengthener, ceramides help strengthen damaged strands.

Cons: The formula is thick and needs to be rinsed out thoroughly.

Let me preface this by saying that hundreds of five-star ratings are extremely rare in the realm of beauty, especially in tricky categories like shampoo and conditioner. However, this volumizing and thickening formula from BondiBoost has accomplished it! It's gentle, vegan, and an all-star lineup of biotin, amaranth extract, and ceramides help cleanse, volumize, strengthen, and nourish so that every last strand is expanded for an overall *incredibly* thicker-looking result.

Customer Review: "What else to say other than 'It works!' I can see the difference, especially when I alternate between ordinary everyday shampoo and this product every other day. With this, my scalp becomes less visible whether I have it down or up (not balding, but I have fine hair). And I've used other volumizing shampoos, but they weighed heavy in my hair. My go-to now."

The Best for All Hair Types: JVN
Embody Daily Volumizing Shampoo & Conditioner

Pros: Sulfate-free, squalane, and hemi-squalane improve hair health over time, while caffeine stimulates follicles and supports hair growth. Aloe leaf juice hydrates and soothes the scalp.

Cons: Volumizing effect is more subtle than other options.

Celebrity beauty lines are often disappointing, but Jonathan Van Ness kicked it out of the damn park with their namesake haircare line. (I've not tried nor heard about one weak link within the entire collection!) I love that this sulfate-free shampoo has a luxurious lather, and the innovative blend of ingredients like hair follicle-stimulating caffeine, strengthening squalane, plus soothing and hydrating aloe nixes buildup sans stripping while re-upping shine, body, bounce, and instantly visible fullness. 

Customer Review: "Absolutely love. As someone with fine hair, I struggle with my hair getting greasy quickly. Somehow this product has SIGNIFICANTLY helped. My hair is very noticeably less greasy without being dry. I use the conditioner too. I will 100% continue to buy this product! THANK YOU, JVN!"

The Best for Color-Treated Hair: Verb Volume Shampoo & Conditioner

Pros: Pro-vitamin B5 helps naturally thicken hair, sunflower seed extract guards against dryness and color fading, and hydrolyzed soy protein locks in moisture and minimizes frizz.

Cons: Contains artificial fragrance and may not be suitable for those with sensitivities.

Verb is one of the most affordable yet effective brands you can buy. I go for its hydrating shampoo and conditioner, but I use this volumizing pair for special occasions or when my strands have just been feeling kind of meh. Sometimes I have issues with volume-boosting formulas drying my hair out or resulting in a tangly mess as soon as I step out of the shower. But the brand's expert mix of glycerin, hydrolyzed soy protein, Pro-Vitamin B5, and sunflower seed extract has yet to do me wrong, leaving my hair looking thicker and healthier. 

Customer Review: "I really like this shampoo. It makes my hair feel clean and gives me volume too. My hair also doesn't get as oily as it usually does with this shampoo. It also smells good as well and leaves my hair smelling good. [I] just wish it wasn't so expensive. But I would still recommend it."

The Best for Anyone with Curl or Frizz: Amika 3D Volume and Thickening Shampoo & Conditioner

Pros: Contains patented Redensyl complex that plumps up hair strands, hydrolyzed rice protein improves hair volume and manageability, hydrolyzed vegetable protein thickens and hydrates.

Cons: Not color-safe.

Perky packaging aside, this shampoo and conditioner from Amika does serious work on limp, dirty strands and will forever be a staple in my shower. Hair looks and feels thicker; is thoroughly cleansed of every last inch of oil or buildup; and is weightless, bouncy, and infused with long-term health and length-building benefits thanks to sea buckthorn, hydrolyzed rice and vegetable proteins, and the brand's trademark Redensyl Complex, which features Larix Europaea Wood Extract and Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract.

The Celebrity Favorite: Ouai Fine Hair Shampoo & Conditioner

Pros: Color-safe, biotin strengthens strands, chia seed oil thickens and volumizes, hydrolyzed keratin softens and adds shine.

Cons: Pricier than other options.

I've heard so many editors and stylists wax poetic about Jen Atkin's line of cult-loved haircare, but it wasn't until fellow fine-haired gal Sydney Sweeney told me she loved it that I gave it a shot myself. This volumizing shampoo and conditioner for fine hair not only boosts volume and body, but the mix of biotin, chia seed oil, and hydrolyzed keratin also tag team to strengthen, hydrate, thicken, and impart lots of shine. 

Customer Review: "The shampoo works well with my fine hair. It does clean my hair well and adds more volume to it. I pair it with the conditioner as a set. Both make my hair look healthier."

The Best for Limp or Damaged Hair: Beauty Pie Super Healthy Hair Strengthening Shampoo & Conditioner

Pros: Strengthens fine or fragile hair with peptides, color-safe, plumps strands and repairs damage.

Cons: May not work as well on thicker strands.

Super fine, limp, or damaged hair will benefit from using Beauty Pie's Strengthening Shampoo with color-plus amino acids, "Lusterplex" shine enhancers, and strengthening peptides that plump and repair your strands.

Customer Review: "Fantastic results every time. I don't leave it on for long and my hair feels great afterwards."

This article was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated. 

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