Fashion & Beauty

How to Fake Big, Fat Hair

March 24, 2015


MY FRIEND KAT used to have the kind of hair that could break a brush. That was 30 years ago. Now her still-pretty long, blonde Botticelli curls have thinned, gone limp and need lots of TLC.

Sound familiar?

It happens to most of us. Aging, hormonal changes, long-term sun and coloring damage, medical and emotional issues, and heredity all play a part in hair going flatter, finer and less voluptuous over time, whatever its original texture.

The good news? We have some solutions.

Before we get to products, first consider your hair’s length, overall style and what your colorist uses on it. 

For those with frail and oily locks, the shorter, the better, to compensate for lack of volume and fullness, and to avoid a greasy look

Salon owner Yves Durif.

Salon owner Yves Durif.

“Chin length is ideal,” says Manhattan-based celebrity stylist Yves Durif owner of the eponymous salon at the Carlyle Hotel. “Beyond that, the hair will show transparency.”

By transparency, Durif means that you can see the scalp and when you lift the hair by the roots, light goes right through.

He advises avoiding bleach-based highlights, teasing and layers, all of which weaken the hair. Ask your colorist about using semi-permanent color, which can fatten skinny hair.

If your hair is baby-fine, straight and breaks easily, Durif, an unabashed lover of Jean Seberg in Breathless and a young Twiggy — he has their framed portraits in his salon — says the way to go is short-short.

“No layers or bleach-based highlights,” he says. “Low-lights are ideal, particularly if your hair is any longer than Seberg’s or Twiggy’s.  And think of your shampoo and conditioner as the prep work before you style.”

And styling products afterward. Many brands are becoming increasingly specific, targeting different hair textures.  Here are the best, including DevaCurl and Ouidad, which expressly revive depressed waves and curls. They all smell great, clean and moisturize gently and weightlessly, and work wonders to fake big, fat, healthy hair with body for days.


Tip: Once you shampoo and rinse, have a towel handy to squeeze out excess water from hair before you apply conditionerIt helps it penetrate better.

Living Proof Full Shampoo ($10-$59) Created by Ivy League scientists – really – this stuff is no joke. L’Oréal Paris Volume Filler Thickening Shampoo ($4.99) is affordable and excellent.


Tip: Don’t apply too close to the scalp or roots, and be super-gentle as you stroke it through your hair. If you feel a knot, don’t pull. Lightly coax it. 

Frédéric Fekkai Full Blown Volume Conditioner ($20) is a nice alternative to a creamy formula.  R+Co Dallas Thickening Conditioner ($25) Everything’s bigger in Texas, right?


Tip: When layering products, start with the heaviest ones first, e.g., creams and gels before mousses and sprays.

Creams and Lotions

L’Oréal Paris Volume Filler Densifying Lotion ($6.99) 

V76 by Vaughn Styling Cream ($26) Great for the guys. Men’s stylist and founder Vaughn says, “When hair is sparse, product can really help. The right product can darken the hair just enough by providing moisture and strength where it’s needed. My V76 Styling Cream helps hide straw-like hair by adding moisture so that the hair binds together, avoiding separation for a fuller appearance. Also, the balance of a haircut is very important when dealing with thin hair.”

Mousses:  DevaCurl Frizz-Free Volumizing Foam ($26), Oribe Grandiose Hair Plumping Mousse ($22-$37)


Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray ($22-$42) Carry the baby size in your purse like a dry shampoo to add volume throughout the day if hair falls flat. Ouidad Wave Create Sea Spray ($26) Its sea water and sea salt crystals create full, tousled, beachy waves for all hair types.  

Rita Hazan Root Concealer for Gray Coverage (five shades, $25 each) New York City-based celebrity colorist Rita Hazan explains that a root concealer is a great styling aid for thinning hair. “It helps create the illusion of thickness, while camouflaging thinning or receding hair,” she says. “It can be used all over the hair line and crown while looking natural, and without the embarrassment of the product coming off on clothing or anything else. The fact that it will last until it is washed out really makes it an easy and sensible solution.


L’Oréal Paris Volume Filler Fiber Amplifying Concentrate ($5.97) A little squirt from one ampule that goes into your conditioner every day for three weeks will help amp up limp strands

Be Well by Dr. Frank Lipman Hair, Skin & Nails Formula Dietary Supplement ($39 for 120 vegetarian capsules)  A botanical mix with vitamins, minerals and amino acids to provide extra oomph to hair, skin and nails.

–Gigi Anders
Follow Gigi Anders, a frequent MyLittleBird contributor, on Facebook and @gigianders.

 For non-cosmetic ways (drugs, scalp pigmentation) to deal with the woes of thinning hair, read well-being editor Mary Carpenter’s post, “For Hair, Thin Isn’t In.”

One thought on “How to Fake Big, Fat Hair

  1. I stopped dying my 10% grey hair several years ago, having gotten tired of the upkeep and damage. After several experiments, I found that Clairol’s Beautiful collection — semi-permanent stains — works… beautifully. If I use the lightest shades the grey hairs pick up a blond tone, like highlights. It does have to be redone every three weeks or so (about the same as when I was retouching dye) but the result is thicker, healthier hair. Clairol has a sister collection specifically made for grey hair, which lasts longer, but the range of available shades doesn’t give me the highlighted effect I’m after.

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