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If You Have Fine Hair, Stop Making These 9 Styling Mistakes

You're dragging your hair down (literally).

01-If-You-Have-Fine-Hair,-We're-Begging-You-to-Stop-Making-These-9-Styling-Mistakes-171503552-Yuliya-YafimikYuliya Yafimik/shutterstock

Assuming you can’t pull off layers

You might assume giving your hair layers will make it look thinner than ever. But in reality, layers can be great for fine hair, says Adam Broderick, owner of Adam Broderick Salon & Spa. “Soft layers … can remove some of the weight and let some of the hair be released and have more volume,” he says. With more movement, your hair will actually look thicker. Learn more styling tricks for thin hair.

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Aiming for soft and silky

For more body and volume, you might have to sacrifice silkiness to get the look you want. Conditioners, oils, and other products aimed to make your tresses softer will make fine hair go limp. “The beauty industry has sent a myth that soft, silky hair is the goal,” says hairstylist Jon Reyman, co-founder of Spoke & Weal salon. “If our hair is [naturally] soft, it can’t feel soft anymore. It has to feel rougher for it to look good.” He recommends staying away from any oily, creamy, and smooth products meant to soften the hair. Instead, stick with grippier products like beach sprays and mousses that will give you lift, even if the texture feels stiff. Broderick recommends Bigger Better Volumizing Hybrid, which he says is one of his most popular products for people with fine hair.


Overdoing the conditioner

Because conditioner gives that smooth (but limp) look and feel, Reyman recommends giving it up entirely. If skipping conditioner makes your hair way too dry and damaged, use Broderick’s tip and apply a little bit to the ends only. Using too much or getting it toward your scalp will weigh your hair down. “If you’re going to condition, put it on wet hair so the water works as somewhat of a filler,” he says. That means any heavy leave-in conditioners are out. Look for one that says it’s “weightless,” says Broderick. Learn more ways to make any hair texture look thicker.

04-If-You-Have-Fine-Hair,-We're-Begging-You-to-Stop-Making-These-9-Styling-Mistakes-429630493-Sahacha Nilkumhangshutterstock /Sahacha Nilkumhang

Not washing enough

Women with fine hair might notice their morning shampoo barely makes it to lunchtime before getting greasy. Even if your friends can get away with skipping a day (or three) of washing, you’ll probably need to do it more. Just because their hair works well with natural oils doesn’t mean you should be shamed for rinsing yours out. If you have flat, limp hair and want to wash it once—or even twice—a day, go for it, says Reyman. Or if you don’t use many products every day, try rinsing without adding shampoo, says Broderick. “Go through the motions: rinse and dry,” he says. “You may find you get a nice result without putting any of the sulfates or harsh chemicals in your hair.”


Using too much shampoo

Just because you’re washing more often doesn’t mean you should use more shampoo each time. Products—even the best shampoo for your hair type—can weigh tresses down, and most fine-haired women use too much, says Broderick. Start with a dollop the size of a pea or two, and work your way up if you need more. And no matter how much you need, don’t put that glob straight on your head. “Separate as much possible on your hands, then run your hands and fingers through your hair like you would be rubbing your scalp,” says Broderick. “That will distribute the cleansers and sulfates evenly and sparingly.” Learn more common hair washing mistakes.


Trying to grow hair out too long

Fine hair is more damage-prone than thicker hair. Because your ends are the oldest part of your hair, they’ve already seen their fair share of damage and are even more vulnerable. Unfortunately, that also makes thin hair harder to grow out. “With fine hair, it breaks off so you can’t usually can’t get it really long,” says Reyman. If you don’t have much density, ask your stylist to help figure out the longest your hair can grow while still looking good, says Broderick.


Choosing the wrong stylist

For a specific need like thin hair, you need a stylist who really understands what will work and what won’t. If your recent cuts haven’t done any justice to your hair, keep your eye out for women with similar texture whose cuts you love. When you spot one—even a stranger—don’t be afraid to ask where she got her hair done, says Broderick. But before committing to a full haircut, go in for a consultation and blow-dry, then memorize these hairstyle terms so you can explain exactly what you want. Picking the stylist’s brain and seeing how he or she styles will help you figure out if the salon is the right fit. “It’s a low-risk service,” says Broderick. “If you hate the blow-dry, you wet it and do it yourself. If you get a haircut, it’s a four- to six-month process to grow it out.”


Avoiding the blow-dryer

Some people claim you should avoid heat on your hair at all costs, but blow-drying your hair is crucial to giving limp hair a little oomph. The heat expands the hair shaft to give you volume, especially if you dry it upside-down and avoid these blow-dry mistakes. Wait until you’re done drying before you part your hair to get even more lift, says Broderick. Use a lower heat setting to avoid damage, and don’t forget about the “cool” button. “When you blow-dry and finish and take the brush off, the hair is still hot,” he says. “If it’s not kept in that shape it just gets flat again.” Get lasting volume by giving each section a shot of cold air before taking the brush out. Don’t stress if that all sounds like too much work for you. As long as you get all the water out, simply rough-drying with your fingers will give your hair extra body, says Reyman. Use these tricks when you do need to air-dry.

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Picking the wrong color—or none at all

“I like color not just because of what it looks like, but because it damages the hair shaft,” says Reyman. Sounds backwards, but a little damage actually gives fine hair more movement, he says. Plus, color makes the cuticle swell up, giving you extra thickness. Stretch the time between visits with these tips to make hair color last longer. Broderick recommends staying away from extreme color though. Bleach blonde hair will end up looking almost transparent, and overly dark hair can overpower fine hair and make it look muddy, he says. If you do want one of those colors, add some warm tones underneath or as highlights. Find out the best hair color for your skin tone.

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.