6 Ways to Make Hair Look Instantly Thicker

By Greg Presto |

From cut to color to styling, these simple strategies can help thinning locks look fuller.

senior woman with short hair

For most people, hair loss isn’t a question of if, but when.

Statistics show that 40 percent of men have noticeable hair loss by age 35, 65 percent by age 60, and 80 percent by their 85th birthday. And it’s not just a male problem: Only 43 percent of women go through life with a full head of hair, according to research published in Clinical Interventions in Aging.

There are science-backed solutions to this embarrassing issue, including scalp treatments with an ingredient called minoxidil, which was originally developed as Rogaine. But most require a lot of patience—often after an initial visit to your doctor.

For quicker results, check out the six tips below. From cut to color to styling, these strategies can help thinning hair look thicker, starting today.

1. If You’re Thinning on Top, Get a Shorter Cut

When your hair is thinning on top versus receding from the front, you don’t want it lying on your head, says Jamie DiGrazia, co-owner of Logan Parlor salon in Chicago.

“When hair lies down, it separates and exposes scalp, which then looks thin,” she says. This tends to happen with longer styles since they have more weight. A shorter cut, on the other hand, can stand up away from the head, masking those thinning spots.

For women, DiGrazia recommends a pixie-style cut that won’t allow the hair to lie flat. If you’re not ready to go that short, “get it in a style that can be worn up and back or down and forward, and talk to your stylist about a product that adds density and texture,” she says.

2. For Receding Hair, Trim Around the Hairline

By having your barber or stylist focus on the area around your hairline, the rest of your hair can look thicker, says Pedro Rosario, a master barber with hair care marketplace Shortcut. “Hair grows heavier in the horseshoe-shaped area that goes all around from temple to temple,” he says. “The barber should remove bulk and thin it out a bit. This way, the balding area looks fuller.”

The resulting cut will be tighter on the sides and a little longer on top for decent coverage and to create an illusion of allover thickness. A cut like this “builds scaffolding to the rest of the shape,” DiGrazia says.

You can also create an illusion of fullness by trimming the widow’s peak area, or the V-shaped point that sits in the center of your forehead. “The hairline will appear higher, but less receding,” DiGrazia says. “If you leave all the hair in the front the same length, the hair at the widow’s peak will hang longer, which accentuates the receding areas.” If it’s shorter, the hair won’t have as much movement. It will stay put and look fuller.

Trim it instead of shaving it, so it blends. It’s best to have a professional handle this.

3. Switch Up Your Shower Routine

Conditioner may make your hair silky and smooth, but its softening properties can encourage your hair to lie down, says Caleb Backe of Maple Holistics, a natural personal care company. And as previously mentioned, hair that lies down exposes thinning.

To get the same conditioning effects, plus a little more volume that can hold a style, Backe suggests switching up your shower order: Condition first, then shampoo. And be sure to use a conditioner that doesn’t have any paraffins or sulfates, he says. With the shampoo’s volumizing effects coming in afterward, “the hair will stand up better.”

4. Ditch the Box for Multidimensional Color

Natural hair color isn’t just one color—brunette hair, for instance, is a combination of many different browns. But cheaper hair dyes don’t have this multidimensional color, which not only makes them look fake, but also doesn’t help hide thinning hair, says Shea Stamper, founder of the Original Ombre Hair Company. Multidimensional color creates an illusion of more volume and depth to the hair, she says.

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It may cost a bit more, but ditch the box for a professional color treatment with highlights and lowlights to create more dimension, she says. Your color will look more natural and thicker.

5. Use a Root Lifter—the Right Way

A root-lifting product can also keep your hair from lying against the scalp. The specific product you use is less important than your application technique.

“Get a product with a nozzle that can point almost directly on the scalp,” Stamper says. When you’re about halfway through blow-drying the hair, apply the product lightly around your face at the hairline, and then on top of the head. “Then, immediately turn your hair upside down and resume drying.”

A little bit goes a long way so go easy the first time. If you like the results but want more lift, you can try adding more the next time you style your hair.

6. Give Yourself a Scalp Massage

Massaging can help lift your roots, making thinning hair stand up a touch—like with a root-lifting product—and look thicker instantly. You can use your hands or a scalp-massaging gadget, Backe says.

This has long-term benefits too: A scalp massage can stimulate the hair follicles, which can help hair grow in healthier. And even if it doesn’t give you immediate results, it may make you feel a little less stressed—about the worries of the day and about a little bit of thinning.

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