Off-topic Monday: Turn up the volume

volumeI’m taking a detour off the Posse perfume highway today for something a bit different, to mention an issue that’s been really bugging me of late: Volume. Or rather, complete lack of it. My hair has gone flat — flatter than a tire that’s run over a box of nails.

Maybe it’s that time of life (a friend my age is also having issues), the stress of a teenager, or the whopping humidity in which we seem to marinate here in the South, but no matter what, it seems that my locks just can’t get no (volume) satisfaction.

I did start to color my hair last winter, so maybe that’s part of it? Also, I understand that if hair gets too long, it gets weighed down, but even after a haircut, the volume is nowhere to be found.

I’ve tried several different body-building mousses, I blow-dry my hair with my head upside down and then use a heated round brush to try to create lift and volume from underneath. But all to no avail.

I don’t want to sound like a world-class whiner; I realize that this is not an earth-shattering problem, and I’m grateful for the hair I do have. It’s just that for most of my life, decent hair was one of the things that worked for me, that I could count on, and it never needed any drastic measures. So I guess I’m feeling a bit disappointed that it’s starting to fail me now, when I really need it to behave.

Do any of you hair-savvy folks out there have any ideas, tips or suggestions? I’m hoping that someone knows of a life-changing product or trick that will pump up the volume for those of us with a bad case of the limp locks. Thanks!

  • Hamamelis says:

    Some suggestions from a newbie perfumista from the Netherlands:
    Bamboo Volume 48 hour sustainable Volume spray
    Bamboo Boho waves styling spray
    All the rage at the beautyblogs in the Netherlands: Philip B Russian Amber Imperial insta thick hair thickening & finishing spray…very expensive but apparently the best thing against flat hair days (I haven’t tried it but it is such a thing here that you may wish to try it when things get very dire on the hair front)

    Cheapest suggestion (courage required) shower your hair with cold water after washing, and as often as you can stand it the rest of the time.

    Hope it helps, with many thanks for your wonderful blog!

  • Aixa says:

    A few suggestions from one with thin, fine hair: I second clarifying shampoo used from time to time (maybe once every two weeks), but would follow with a heavy, creamy conditioner left on overnight, then washed out the next day. Aussie Three Minute Miracle comes to mind. Other than that I condition only enough so it isn’t too tangled after shampooing. And to style but retain shine, I spray hair spray on my fingertips, work them under the top hair at the roots and work it around – root volume with minimal weight. Cheap but works wonders. Good luck.

  • Beth says:

    HI Ann,

    I can so relate to this as well. I had weight loss surgery and lost a TON of my hair. It’s always been thin and fine and STRAIGHT so oh, what fun that was. It’s also very slippery after washing which just makes it lie completely flat to my head. After trying pretty much everything, here is what I’ve arrived at that works well for me. Oh, and I’ve used the most expensive to the least. I’ve spent hundreds (Living Proof, Kerastase and Pureology I’m looking at you) and gone for the Suave.

    1) I color my hair. If the hair folicle is completely closed, the hair just slips against each other and lies flat
    2) I used color shampoo so that my color stays
    3) I get my hair to the damp stage and apply Paul Mitchell Ultra Body Daily Boost spray
    4) I dry a bit more and add the Paul Mitchell Ultra Body Sculpting Foam
    5) Finish drying upside down and then use the round brush to lift and shape
    6) Add on the Big Sexy Hair Sexy Hair Concepts Powder Play Volumizing & Texturizing Powder – a little goes a long way – add it to the roots and rub the roots to bring your hair up
    7) if I want it really big, then I add Sexy Hair Sexy Big Sexy What A Tease Backcomb in A Bottle 4.2oz – my stylist showed me this and it really is like a backcomb in a bottle.

    Phew, what a lot of work. But honestly, this is the only routine I’ve found that really adds volume to my hair and stays all day. It does need to be washed out, but I can usually get 2 days out of it.

    Good luck!

    • Gwenyth says:

      Jumping in here to give a resounding 2nd recommendation for the Paul Mitchel Ultra Body Sculpting Foam and the Big Sexy Hair Powder Play and What A Tease products. My hair stylist used these on my hair several months ago and I was astounded and pleased by the results. The good thing, and the bad thing, is that the products last until you wash your hair — which can problematic (for me, anyway). Yes, I can usually get 2 days between washings.

      Hope you find something that works for you. 🙂

  • julieohara says:

    My hair has always been flat on top. Then at age 35, it started shedding faster than normal and kept this up for about a year. Let’s just say I don’t have the hair of my youth any longer. But I do have suggestions for you! First, coloring should give you MORE volume. In order to deposit color, the hair cuticles are lifted and effectively “roughed” up, making them more voluminous and textured. So, I don’t think the color is causing the trouble. Maybe your scalp is producing more oil, so you need to use clarifying shampoos more often, or just lighter conditioners and stylers to ensure nothing is being weighed down? If you want products that add volume, the best I’ve found are in the Kerastase line. I like their “Lift Vertige,” but there are other products like mousses, etc (all the ones in that same blue patterned packaging). It definitely lifts my roots but doesn’t make my hair feel stiff. Good luck with it all!

  • Gwen says:

    Who knew that age could make even your hair sag (sigh). Similar issues here.

    I’ll second the suggestion on having your hairstylist texturize with thinning scissors, and add one more suggestion: Bosley Shampoo (yes, the “Hair Club for Men” company), especially the stuff for color-treated hair, which is ever-so-slightly conditioning. Got it for my husband, who was having thinning issues, plus his hair has gotten quite fine in “manopause.” Tried it myself one day and liked it FAR better than my heavily conditioning shampoo. I think it’s because the Bosley is meant to rinse out completely, so as not to clog the scalp pores causing fallout. Works like a charm, as long as I keep my hair fairly short and texturized. Also, I also don’t shampoo more than 2-3 times a week, which I don’t need to with the Bosley. I’ve seen it at Ulta Beauty, but I order it online from Amazon. (BTW, argan oil immediately makes my hair lustrous and pasted flat to my head, a la Julie in the Mod Squad–I’m a long way from being able to pull off that look.)

    Also, a note about the stress of a teenager. Got a couple of those too. If I need to remember how thick and luscious my hair USED to be, I need only look at them. I wish I could say it fills me with joy, but I’d be lying…

  • imapirate007 says:

    I thought my thinning hair was just a sign of getting older, and I tried a lot of expensive things. Save your money

    The best thing I ever did was get a shower filter for hard water, although sometimes when I’m cheap I just used bottled water. There’s alot of bad stuff in hard water that strips your hair.

    Coloring is good, just use the kind without ammonia. Coloring thickens hair.

    And now for the big one- you don’t have to strip your hair of it’s oils. I have stick straight oily hair, but I’ve retrained it by washing it every 3 days, and only one shampoo rinse. Summer time I don’t use much of a conditioner. Your oils are naturally good for your hair. Don’t strip it! It works great with the powders and dry shampoo. Hair spray is good too.

    Invest in a good natural bristle brush to distribute the oils.

    All these things take time. Just be patient and you’ll see a big difference. You don’t have to be hardcore about the washing but don’t over do it.

    • Ann says:

      That is such a good idea — I never would have thought of the water filter! I will try your other suggestions, too, and kiss the conditioner goodbye, except for maybe once in a while. Thanks so much!!

  • Portia says:

    Hi Ann,
    My compromise with my lack of hair volume was to shear it off in a number 1 all over. Maybe a bit drastic but it is incredibly liberating and easy care.
    Then when I need hair I glue a wig on.
    Portia xx

    • Ann says:

      Love it, Portia! You are so funny! I seriously have been tempted more than once to buzz it all off — then I could be a blonde, redhead or brunette with any style I wanted, whenever the mood strikes me. But klutzy as I am, wearing a wig would surely result in many embarrassing “I Love Lucy” moments, so perhaps best not. 😉

  • teri says:

    Oh boy can I ever relate.

    I have always had very fine hair that does nothing but lay flat and straight. I resigned myself long ago to wearing chignons or french braids or something of that nature because spending hours styling my hair to find that the style was completely gone by the time I reached work was simply ridiculous.

    However, at the urging of the lady who cuts my hair, I gave Tigi Catwalk Your Highness Root Boost a try and had real results. No, it didn’t give me Texas big hair, but it let me wear my hair pulled back and not look like it is just skinned back. It give me just enough of a little ‘poofiness’ that softens the harshness of the pulled back hair styles I favor.

    I spray only the roots on damp hair. Let it sit 3-5 minutes. Then blow dry with my hair upside down. No combing or brushing until the hair is completely dry. What’s really great is that I even get some 2nd day results if I turn my hair upside down and blow it out a bit.

    • Ann says:

      Teri, our hair sounds a lot alike, except mine is fairly short (a few inches past my ears), so I’m not able to put it up, though that would be wonderful. Someone else mentioned that Tigi product to me, so a-hunting I will go. Thanks for sharing your tips and routine — will give it a try!

  • kizzers says:

    I have thyroid issues and although my hair is very thick, it’s been breaking off a lot lately and goes from being dry and frizzy one day to greasy and limp the next. I started using Mane ‘n’ Tail (Herbal Olive complex) along with the conditioner for the last month and, honestly, my hair is back to the shiny, silky, bouncy best it was 20 years ago. The volume is ridiculous and there’s way less breakage too. 🙂 Best of luck finding something that works for you x

    • Ann says:

      Yay, Kizzers! So glad your hair is doing so well — I know you are thrilled. And I will definitely investigate those products — thanks!!

  • einsof says:

    like a couple other people- i would recommend a dry shampoo and spritzing your ROOTS ONLY with a volumizing spray such as Aveda Volumizing Tonic or really, any light hair spray. you might also try experimenting with a mousse or texturizing styling aid- again, at the roots ONLY.

    depending on your hairstyle and desires, you can ask your stylist to texturize (with scissors– don’t be scared- they do not cut ALL the hair)… this may provide some actual structural lift to the hair.

    or… just embrace your inner hippie, grab a head band and peace out! 😉

    • Ann says:

      “Embrace your inner hippie” — I love it, Einsof!! I do have a few hats and such that I can pull out as needed. But I’m glad you mentioned the roots; I need to remember to limit my product to the roots only as I tend to want to spread it throughout the hair. Thanks!

  • Kandice says:

    Hi Ann. I’ve always had fine hair, but in my younger days it was thick. Now it’s thin and fine, so I can definitely relate. If your hair is healthy, then coloring should actually help. My long-time hair dresser says a tiny bit of damage makes the hair fuller if you have fine hair. My favorite volume building product is Living Proof’s Full Thickening Cream. They also have a thickening shampoo and conditioner. You can find them at Sephora. They also have a new Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 styling treatment that I haven’t tried yet. My only complaint is that they’re rather expensive. But a little goes a long way so it’s not a bad trade-off. Also, I agree with Jillie, you may want to have your blood chemistry checked. That can make a huge difference if your thyroid is off. Best of luck finding a solution!

    • Ann says:

      Howdy, Kandice! Your hair sounds like mine, which used to be fine but very thick, and now seems to be thinning out somewhat. So the coloring is helpful — good to know! And thanks for the tips!

  • rosarita says:

    Hi Ann, boy can I relate! I went through some major, long term stress in 2001 and lost a good deal of hair; it grew back, but it’s remained thin and fine, not like the hair that I once had. Here’s what has worked for me: I use a volume boosting shampoo and very little conditioner, and to style I use Pantene Expert line Anti Aging volume builder at the roots, and a golf ball sized blob of John Frieda Volume boosting mousse. Dry upside down as you said, then I mist on John Frieda volume hairspray at the roots and hairline, in short spurts. Oh, and my hair is very wavy bordering on curly, so I have it cut in lots of layers and don’t use brushes on it or handle it too much. The John Frieda stuff is in turquoise packaging and the Pantene thickening stuff is kind of life changing as my hair feels thicker even when I don’t use it. Hope this is helpful!

    • Ann says:

      Hi, sweetie! Thanks so much for sharing your products and your routine. So glad you found things that work well for you. And it’s extra nice that they are easily found and don’t cost an arm and a leg.

  • farouche says:

    I use dry shampoo purchased from the drugstore. Not only does it help you keep your hair clean between shampoos, it is a great body-booster! Give it a try.

    • Ann says:

      That sounds good, Farouche. I have some around here and need to dig it up and try it. Do you like the spray-on kind better or the powder that you dust into your roots?

  • solanace says:

    My hair is very fine and I live in the rain forest, so this is an issue I have always struggled with. My approach is minimalist: a simple shampoo for normal hair, nothing conditioning or too complicated, no conditioner and just the tiniest amount of leave in or two drops of pure argan oil. If I use too much stuff, I start looking like Kurt Cobain…

    • Ann says:

      Good advice, Solanace — thanks! I would think as we age that the oily scalp issue would go away, but so far, it’s not. Arghhh …

  • jillie says:

    Just a thought …. have you had your thyroid and iron levels checked? If these are low they cause hair to thin. Good luck!

  • Audrey says:

    I’m 43 and though I still have lots of hair it’s definitely changed drastically in the last couple of years.
    If you want volume you cannot use anything that will weigh your hair down, so extra -moisture anything is pretty much a no no (except I saw a commercial the other day for a Dove shampoo that volumizes AND moisturizes…..). I use Kerastase Cristalliste, sometimes Bain Architecte…product consists of Philip B detangler (which smells like vinegar but goes away when it dries), then Alterna Bamboo Strand Expand. The Alterna smells good but it can interfere with fragrance.
    If you have loads of cash, Shu Uemura has some great products as well…..and smells fabulous.

    • Ann says:

      Wow, Audrey, those are some great suggestions! Thanks so much! Someone else mentioned the Alterna to me as well.

  • Maya says:

    Try MSM. It’s a supplement that’s not expensive and helps with hair growth, though that’s not it’s main function. I have fine hair and can’t use moisturizing shampoos or conditioners or it goes very flat. I just give it an oil treatment every now and then,

    • Ann says:

      Will do, Maya — thanks! I used to rarely, if ever, use conditioner, but now with dye hair, it seems like you need it (especially the first few washes after coloring) to help lock in the color. But if I could get the body and lift back like it was, I’d almost give up the color 🙂

  • eldarwen22 says:

    Summer usually is a nightmare for my hair. I am not talk about my ends but my scalp. No matter what I use or how hard I scrub, it’s so oily like I haven’t washed my hair in a few days. I am starting to be at my wits end with my hair and it’s only hits my shoulders.

    • Ann says:

      I hear you, dear! Summertime with its humidity really is a trial. Might any of the dry shampoos help you at all?

  • sharviss says:

    I have fine hair and I really like a product by Kevin Murphy called Body Mass. You spray it on wet hair and style normally. It makes a difference for me. Good luck 🙂

    • Ann says:

      Will definitely check that out, Sharviss! Glad you found something that works well for you. Thanks so much!

  • Jennie says:

    Hi Ann
    Love the off-topic post. I have very fine hair and I live in a humid climate so I can sympathise with your plight.
    Have you tried using any of the hair volume powder products? I’ve discovered a few different brands – Schwarzkopf, Osis etc. You use it as a finishing product – shake on a little powder on after you’ve styled your hair and then shoosh it around a bit to make the powder disappear. On me it keeps my hair fluffed up for the whole day. It doesn’t really brush out, so you need to wash your hair to remove it, but I prefer that to being a flat head!
    Good luck for your next good hair day.

    • Ann says:

      Thanks, Jennie! I need to try one of those powders and see how it works. I used to have a tinted Bumble & Bumble powder, but heaven knows where it is now 🙂