My childhood is otherwise known as the time when I had thick, gorgeous brown hair that naturally dried glossy, smooth and straight — those were the days, let me tell you.
Over the years, my hair got finer and thinner as a result of dyeing it blonde, heat styling it pin straight and, of course, aging. But I eventually learned a few tricks of the trade to make things just a tad bit easier. Ladies, learn from my mistakes.
Rule 1: Go to a stylist who understands fine hair.
I recently got a cut from Jill Crosby, a celebrity stylist who also works with Women’s ROGAINE, and was really impressed with her take on cutting this particular type of hair. “Women with fine or thinning hair tend to default to styles that are almost non-styles,” Crosby said. “They often grow out their hair and refrain from ever cutting it — even the slightest trim. And when I see a woman with thinning hair get to the point when she is willing to cut away the breakage and damage to find a cut that really enhances her face and utilizes her stronger qualities, they are typically elated and realize what they have been missing.”
When I was 22, I thought that flat ironing my hair until it almost burned off was a fabulous look. And yes, I’m holding an apple martini because what else does a 22-year-old drink when she thinks she lives in an episode of “Sex and the City?"
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Rule 2: Don’t get bangs, ever.
I jokingly tell my friends how I've stopped “trying to make bangs happen” as the line goes in the quotable movie “Mean Girls.” I, like I’m sure many of you, have gone through cycles where I'd wake up one day and say, "Hey, maybe I should try bangs again" or "Let’s give bangs one more go!" The answer? Just don’t do it. I have a fool-proof plan should I ever be tempted again: Simply look at the photos from when I attempted bangs in high school and again in 2006.
“If you have thin or thinning hair, I’d recommend avoiding a heavy bang,” said Crosby. "Instead, ask your stylist for long layers or wispy angles to frame your face. Creating bangs takes away from hair you have on the top of your head and, in turn, gives you less volume.
Rule 3: Never add layers in the back!
I've fallen victim many times to a stylist telling me that I need more depth and volume in the back, then convincing me to try "just a few layers." The answer? Absolutely not. It seems great in theory, but similarly to bangs, it will simply take away from the precious hair you actually have. And, believe me, it takes forever to grow back. Instead, ask for a few angles in the front or even a singular layer is fine, as long as it’s just in front.
Rule 4: Blunt cuts are your best friend.
I used to think that blunt cuts were boring — that is, until I actually tried one. Nothing, I repeat, nothing makes fine hair look fuller than a straight line going across the bottom. “A strong weight line with a fresh, blunt cut can actually give hair a longer appearance. So while you’re cutting, you're creating an illusion of length and volume,” Crosby explained. Even when I wore my hair shoulder length, which was shorter than I liked at that time, it looked incredibly fuller and healthier.
Rule 5: Play with your part.
Stylists usually cut your hair based on the part that you like to wear your hair. So before they actually start snipping, talk about where they think your part should be. You never know what a simple switch of the part might do for your volume or perception of thickness. Crosby agrees, “It gives instant lift at the root and can completely change a style for the better.”
Rule 6: When it comes to color, opt for a slightly deeper root.
As a blonde for nearly 15 years, I've always had just one rule when it comes to color: Don’t let your roots show ... ever. Turns out, I was completely wrong. “When dealing with a client who has fine or thinning hair, I always recommend adding a deeper root with just a few highlights, which helps hair look fuller and thicker — especially at the roots where you want some volume,” celebrity colorist Erick Orellana explained. Orellana is actually the colorist who did the color in my “blunt cut” photo and it took him months to convince me that darker roots were better for the illusion of density. He was 100 percent right. If you look at that photo and then look at my color in my “bangs” photo above, you can absolutely see the difference.
“Highlights are great for adding volume, but if you go too light at the root you can actually cause more breakage to the hair, which means thinner hair,” Orellana said. “You can still stay very blonde, especially on the ends, but try to avoid the root.”
Rule 7: When all else fails, wear clip-in extensions.
I’m the first to admit that I wish I had full, thick hair that magically dries in 10 minutes and never gets frizzy. Doesn't heaven sound great? But when you finally accept the reality that “the grass is always greener,” you can start to appreciate the fact that there are tons of clip-in extension options that won’t damage your natural hair. They're great for special occasions or even for everyday (if you’re not as lazy as I am).
This article was originally published Feb. 20, 2015 on TODAY.com.