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8 Sanity-Saving Tips for Styling Thick Hair

Don’t let your hair weigh you down. Try these tricks to gain control of your thick hair and style it the way you want.


Give the look dimension

“The key to styling thick hair is giving it dimension,” said hairstylist Janet Zeitoun Founder and CEO of State of the Art Hair (SOTAH). This can be difficult because thick hair is so dense, but doing things like adding layers or trying different styles can help you to have more control over your thick hair. “You can go from a pixie cut, to a long layer, to a bob,” said Zeitoun. Just make sure you’re not making these hair mistakes.


Air dry before blow-drying

When you have thick hair it’s not a good idea to start blow-drying your hair immediately after you get out of the shower. Jenna Mast, New York-based hairstylist, suggests letting your hair air dry for a while before picking up the blow dryer. For straight hair, Mast suggests letting your hair get 75% dry, for curly hair, wait until your hair is about 25% dry. “The goal is to remove the appropriate amount of moisture before manipulating the hair with a brush,” said Mast. “It will save you a TON of time and it’s way less of an upper body workout when compared to round brushing.”


Try a shaved look underneath

If you want to be a little more daring with your hair, try shaving your hair at the base of your head. This can eliminate a lot of the bulk. Zeitoun says that many times, when you wear your hair down, you can’t even notice that underneath is shaved because you still have so much hair on top. To add a little more spunk, you can get a fun pattern shaved into your hair.


Start with a good foundation

“Whatever result you want to get starts with your foundation,” said Zeitoun. This means, using the right shampoos, conditioners, and products. Zeitoun suggests sticking to a shampoo and conditioner that is light and adds volume, so that your hair doesn’t get more weighed down than it already is. Finish your look with a smoothing cream. Here are things that your hair can reveal about your health.


Skip the rinse and use dry shampoo

Sometimes it can feel like you have to spend hours on end in the shower to get all of the conditioner out of your hair and then even longer styling it afterwards. Skip washing your hair every time you shower and use dry shampoo. Mast suggests using a foam dry shampoo versus a spray for thick hair. “It removes oil and product buildup and leaves the scalp feeling clean,” said Mast. “The foam allows for more control than a spray, since you apply the foam with your hands.”


Prepare for the weather

When you have thick hair and it’s humid outside, it can be a nightmare to control it. Zeitoun suggests always being prepared for the weather and styling your hair so that you don’t have to worry about it. She suggests top knots, braids, and easy up-dos paired with hairspray and a smoothing cream.


Use thinning shears

To release some of the bulk from thick hair, run through it with thinning shears or a razor on a regular basis. Zeitoun likes to use a razor on the ends of thick hair to release some of the weight, clean up the edges, and give it a more wispy look.


Section off hair

Thick hair and thin hair ties don’t always work together. Zeitoun likes to section off the hair and then style it. “Create foundations with multiple ponytails and connect them all,” Zeitoun said. You can easily connect all of the ponytails into a cute up-do and secure it with pins and hair spray. Know these myths about hair that you need to stop believing.

Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is an Associate Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She writes for, helps lead the editorial relationship with our partners, manages our year-round interns, and keeps the hundreds of pieces of content our team produces every month organized. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine where she lives and works remotely full time and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office.