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?"
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 foolproof 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 front or even a singular layer as long as it’s just in front.
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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 blond, 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).
TODAY Style editors asked Jamie to share the must-have products she uses on her thin hair. These are her top five favorites.
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1. Viviscal Extra Strength Hair Nutrient Tablets, $34 for 60 tablets, Amazon
Viviscal tablets are daily supplements that aim to nourish thinning hair and promote existing hair growth from within.
"Viviscal supplements have not been FDA approved for hair restoration; however, there have been clinical studies showing that the supplement can promote hair growth," said dermatologist Dr. Michael Caglia at the Midland Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center in Texas.
The Amazon reviews are mixed, but those who stuck with the program and took the tablets daily wrote that their hair grew in stronger and thicker.
2. Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray, $46, Amazon
This dry hairspray goes on at the root to build texture and add volume by absorbing oils and holding hair in place. It's expensive, but helps thicken the appearance of finer hair. The good news is, you don't need to use a ton of the product to see results. Sounds worth it to us!
3. Women's Rogaine Hair Loss and Thinning Treatment, $22 for two-month supply, Amazon
This was an Allure Best of Beauty winner in 2016. According to the Rogaine website, it's clinically proven to regrow up to 25 percent more hair and is dermatologist-recommended. It's a foam you use in the shower, so it can easily become part of your daily routine.
4. Toppik Hair Building Fibers, $25, Amazon
This product is made of natural, colored-keratin proteins that mix with your existing hair for a thicker, fuller look. According to the company, it's also wind-, rain- and sweat-resistant but will still wash out in the shower. You can choose from a variety of bottle sizes and hair colors. Reviewers on Amazon loved this product, especially those with alopecia.
5. Harklinikken Hair Products, $32 - $140, Harklinkken
This shampoo uses a proprietary extract with ingredients derived from plants and cow’s milk to regrow hair. This solution may be a bit pricey, but the company claims to have 10,000 happy clients all over the globe. Dr. Cagli said there are no published studies showing efficacy of these products, but that the "ingredients appear safe."
As always, when it comes to distressing hair loss, I would recommend evaluation by a dermatologist. There are different types of hair loss, some of which may need professional medical treatment.
This article was originally published Feb. 20, 2015 on TODAY.com.