Thin hair can be difficult to style. Trust me—I know. I've tried to make my naturally thin hair look thicker and fuller ever since I was in middle school and my mom let me get my hands on a hot tool. Since then, I've cycled through plenty of hairstyles, volumizing products, and thickening techniques. Some have worked, but most haven't. That's okay. Somewhere along the way, I've learned to live and work with my naturally thin hair (sigh), and the style I choose to wear it in has a lot to do with that. For example, I've learned a slick-straight style doesn't do my thin hair any favors, which is why I tend to go with tousled, textured waves instead.
So yeah, I had my opinions on what hairstyles work best for my thin, medium-length hair, but I was wondering what experts would say on the matter. Was I potentially missing out on a hairstyle that could make my thin hair look thick and full? I decided to find out. Keep scrolling to see the most strategic hairstyles for thin, medium-length hair, according to expert stylists.
Strategic Hairstyle #1: Center Part With Tousled Waves
Jon Reyman is a hairstylist and founder of Spoke & Weal salons. He says a short, strong style is the best option for people with thin hair. "If the hair is thin and fine, I wouldn't push it further than it can go. A stronger and shorter haircut is best because it gives it a stronger parameter," he advises.
That's where a lob comes in. This style offers movement and body, as well as that strong parameter Reyman speaks of. Just be sure to style it in tousled, textured waves. According to Alicia Bailey Watts, hair texture expert and global education manager at Design Essentials, "loose, textured looks with tousled waves or curls" help "create the illusion of fullness in fine hair."
The only way I ever get my hair to wave is by twisting a flat iron through it. It creates the perfect lived-in look. This one from T3 is good for volume and shine (and preventing damage).
A shine serum can make a world of difference (especially when styling a sleek, center-parted lob). This one from Sachajuan leaves a sumptuous shine without filmy residue.
Strategic Hairstyle #2: Deep Side Part With Tousled Waves
Take a center-parted lob and pair it with a deep side part, and you have an instant volume-boosting hairstyle. "After shampooing and conditioning the hair, apply a leave-in conditioner and begin to blow-dry by overdirecting the hair using a round brush to create volume from the roots," Bailey instructs. "Use a flat iron or 1.5-inch barrel iron set on 300° to create waves or large curls. Then, style using fingers to separate the curls or waves to create the tousled look. Seal the deal with the Design Essentials Formations Finishing Spritz ($16) to hold the waves or curls in place to aid in the longevity of the style."
Bailey recommends sealing the look with this finishing spray from Design Essentials. It holds "the waves or curls in place to aid in the longevity of the style."
Evan Joseph is a hairstylist and Authentic Beauty Concept advocate. He recommends this mousse for achieving a thick and full look. "I think a lot of products designed for thick hair will work on fine hair as long as they are not heavy or overburdening with oils, butter, or synthetics," he says. "Natural styling even on wavy, fine hair can give it lots of body and life while keeping it healthy."
Strategic Hairstyle #3: Long, Textured Layers
"Adding layers to fine hair will definitely aid in creating effortless volume," Bailey Watts says. Just make sure that they're long layers (no short, choppy ones) to ensure the most volume and movement. Use a texturizing product to style them into the perfect piecey definition.
"K18 adds support to fine hair because it protects each strand and increases its longevity," Reyman says. "It travels deep into the hair cortex on a molecular level and strengthens each individual strand. For fine hair, each strand really matters. After I treat the hair, I style with hold-based products because they will add needed body. Creams and emollients weigh the hair down, which leaves hair looking limp and will make it have less body and volume."
Strategic Hairstyle #4: The Shag
Sure, it's more of a haircut rather than a hairstyle. However, Bailey Watts says it's the perfect option for people with thin hair since the layers "aid in creating effortless volume." Plus, who doesn't want to take on the cool and confident air of the '70s icons who made this look famous? For reference, I'm talking about people like Joan Jett, David Bowie, and Stevie Nicks. More recently, it's been worn by Billie Eilish, Halle Berry, and Taylor Swift, among others.
This shaping cream offers heat protection up to 450º while defining natural texture and creating light, lived-in volume.
The right tools can make all the difference in achieving the perfect at-home blowout. We like this iconic Dyson tool, which is basically the Tesla of hair dryers.