Despite the fact that I'm a makeup artist, I struggle with hair. Friends, family, and clients assume that both skills come in a package deal. Unfortunately for me, that's not true. I'm simply hair-challenged. After 26 years of struggling with my thin mop, I'm now learning how to blow dry my hair with volume and my life will never be the same. If you too battle with super fine hair, yet have always longed for the big and voluminous blowouts you see on Instagram, then heed my hard-won advice to up your hair game. They've helped me so much, hopefully they'll help you too.
As a kid, I had pretty thick hair, but when I was in college, a series of unfortunate hair events happened. I went to a fancy New York salon to bleach my hair platinum. I, not knowing any better, was unaware that a process that intense should be gradual, not immediate. However, the stylist bleached my dyed-black hair all in one sitting. My formerly thick hair was no longer thick. I ended up with painful scabs all over my scalp that lasted for months. Half of my hair fell out, and it hasn't grown the same since.
A couple years later, I went vegan without eating a balanced diet. Suddenly, a few months down the line, my hair was falling out in clumps and there were small bald patches around my scalp. I went to a doctor who determined I was (and had always been) anemic, but my sudden decrease in iron intake caused my hair to fall out (again, my own stupid fault for not doing my research).
My hair has never been the same since. For the past few years, I wore extensions everyday just to fein volume and sprayed Bumble and Bumble dark hair powder into my scalp to cover up the semi-bald patches. As a 20-something in New York City, my self-confidence started to suffer. I remember watching a video of myself in a play, and crying as I saw sparse patches all over the back of scalp as I twirled and danced.
In the past year or so, my hair has recovered slightly. However, my part is still more sparse and my hair is just thinner than most. As thinning hair runs on my dad's side of the family, I've just accepted that my hair will not be getting much better with time. Most likely, it will get worse.
Luckily, I recently had the opportunity to learn some tips and tricks from some celebrity hair stylists that completely changed the way I do my hair. I've been able to retire my extensions (which hurt like hell over time) and put my Bumble and Bumble messy powder to rest, all thanks to my new volumizing techniques. If you too struggle with thin hair, then listen up! These tips and tricks will give you renewed confidence and fierceness (just like they did for me).
Start With The Right Products
When I was a kid, my mom told me that all shampoos and conditioners were the same, no matter what they claimed on the bottle. Now that I'm an ingredient obsessed beauty-lover, I know that's not true (sorry, Mom). The right shampoo and conditioner can hydrate your hair to tame frizz and damage without weighing it down (which easily happens with thin hair).
Lately, I've been loving they SheaMoisture Manuka Honey & Yogurt Hydrate + Repair Shampoo ($11, Ulta Beauty) and Conditioner ($11, Ulta Beauty). After showering, while my hair is still wet, I spray two different products in my hair to prepare for styling. The first product is the Form Multitask. Leave-In Lotion ($32, Sephora), which I spray from the shaft of my hair to the ends. This product hydrates my hair to the max, but is lightweight enough that it lets my hair move and bounce. It makes my hair ridiculously soft. I consider this the "primer" step in my hair care routine. It just smoothes everything out.
Lately, I've been using the Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Miracle Multiplying Volume Mist ($30, Sephora) off the recommendation of my friend, and my life has been changed. When I use it, I see a visible difference in the thickness of my hair, particularly around my part. Plus, it just gives the most insane volume when activated with heat. I spray the volume mist directly into the root of my hair and massage in it with my fingertips.
I used to be the kind of girl that didn't use any hair products, which is partly why my hair was so angry with me. I've used skincare that's proven to be so effective over the years, I'm now convinced the same is true with hair care.
Blow Dry Directly Into The Root Of Your Hair
This next technique I learned from celebrity hairstylist Neeko Abriol and it changed my life. When blow drying your hair, start with the root and blow the air directly toward the scalp. Blow dry the hair against the direction it will lay. This will cause the root to stand up straight rather than fall directly against the scalp, giving the appearance of much more volume. To reach the roots at the nape of my neck, sometimes I'll bend over and blow dry my hair upside down. I continue this root-drying process until all of my root/scalp area is dry.
My blow dryer is a very old, very busted Babyliss that has somehow survived 6 years and two cross-country moves. However, if you're in the market for a new blowdryer, I highly suggest the Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer ($399, Sephora), which really is as magical as the reviews make it seem, and the new t3 Cura Hair Dryer ($200, Ulta Beauty), which is perfect if you don't have ten years to dry your hair because it dries much faster than most blowdryers. Investing in the right blowdryer is a blessing because it will last you five-ever and will smooth out your hair as you dry, which means less manual labor.
Zig-Zag Your Part
Abriol also taught me that on shoots, he'll create a zig-zag in a model's part, rather than a straight line, because it can better disguise sparsity and make the hair look fuller. I use the end of a bobby pin for this (because I'm lazy), but a rat tail comb would probably work much better.
Work In Sections
Avoiding the root of my hair, I wrap the shaft to the ends of my hair around a round brush and blow dry while pulling the brush through. Be careful not to smooth down the root. You'll take away all the volume you've created.
I repeat this process, starting with the bottom most layer of my hair, through to the top layer.
When I reach the top most layer on either side of my part, I blow dry against the way my hair is going to lay. This motion provides that Ariel à la The Little Mermaid Disney princess swoop in the front.
Seriously, volume for days.
Set It To Forget It
Just like I set my makeup with setting spray, I set my hair with products that will maintain the style all day long. I use the tiniest bit of Alterna Haircare Caviar Anti-Aging Omega+ Anti-Frizz Dry Oil Mist ($34, Sephora) to smooth out any remaining frizz from the shaft of my hair down. My hair is super prone to frizz, but this oil is only oil that successfully fights my frizz throughout the day.
Then, I slick down my little baby hairs near the sides of my face and the root of my hair. The Kristin Ess Style Defining Shine Pomade + Edge Control ($10, Target) really works wonders for this step. My baby hairs are stupidly stubborn, but this pomade shows them who's the boss.
Perfect The Look
If I still see some frizz after I apply my products, I'll go back in with the round brush and the blow dryer to smooth out my ends only where necessary.
Now is my blow dry absolutely perfect? Of course not. I'm not a hair expert. Does it feel ten times smoother and thicker? Absolutely.
Of course, everyone's hair is different, so not all products work the same for everyone. However, I hope some of these techniques will revolutionize the way you do your hair, just like they did mine.