The look of thin hair can change dramatically with the power of the humble scissor — and the right cutting hand. Done correctly, a good haircut can take fine strands and create the illusion of cool, woke-up-like-this-status volume. Hair that is thin and falls flat can be a result of many factors — it could be hereditary, caused by changes in your diet, or even aging, to name just a few.
But if you’re one of the folks working with thin hair, don’t worry, because it’s not uncommon: “There are so many more celebrities and models out there with thin hair than we realize,” says Lisa Weller, hairstylist and owner of Twirl Salon in San Antonio, Texas. Yes, people, in this case, the stars really are just like us. And just as they can fake a fuller head of hair with the magic of shears and razors, so can you — even if you’re not working with an A-list bank account.
The first step to faking extra volume starts with the right cut, and these, the best haircuts for thin hair, span a number of lengths. Here, we chatted with the pros on how to get it just right.
Up, Up, and Away
By gathering her curls at the crown of the head, Ari Lennox creates inches and inches of eye-catching volume. Before throwing your curls up into this look, Ash Therese, stylist at The Bird House in Brooklyn, suggests giving them a spritz with Luxju Nourishing Hair Mist. “This particular product is nourishing, moisturizing, and helps define curls without weighing them down,” she says.
Straight and Sharp
The blunt appearance is “so effective,” says Ash Therese, another Bird House salon stylist. Blunt cuts are some of the best options for thin hair, and Therese’s trick is to create a “point-cut” perimeter to the style, as opposed to a simple straight line. Recreate a version of Karlie Kloss’s lob, which looks sharp enough to slice through something, with a ceramic tourmaline flatiron like the Beachwaver Coast Pro. To style, lift the hair at the root for volume with the iron, then smooth it, curling it ever-so-slightly inward to create the illusion of width.
This lob looks like it could be cut in one straight line (then styled with curls afterward, obviously), but Therese has a hunch that it’s actually just designed that way. “If you look carefully, you’ll notice that most of [Mindy Kaling’s] haircuts are seemingly blunt, but the perimeter has texture, giving it more movement and a better sense of weightlessness,” Therese says. At her salon, she reaches for a mousse to add thickness. (We like the Living Proof Thickening Mousse for this.) “Mousse has a bit of a bad reputation, but if you have fine hair, once you use a high-quality mousse, you’ll never turn back,” she says. “It has the power to thicken literally every strand on your head at the fibrous level.”
A pixie cut can add some fullness to already-thin strands, making it one of the best low-maintenance short haircuts. “Without much effort at all, it creates the look of dense, full hair,” says Los Angeles-based hairstylist Adir Abergel, who works with Michelle Williams. “There are endless variations to pixies. In order to create a soft appearance, I leave the top section a bit longer around the hairline, especially around the ears.”
Long, Sweeping Bang
Yes, this is a still from Empire, and yes, we think we can all agree this hairstyle works for Cookie Lyon. Bicoastal hairstylist Sarah Potempa cites this cut as one of her favorite options to help volumize thin hair. “I love a clean, vertical sweeping bang as it draws attention up and allows for volume around the cheekbone,” she says.
Leave the layering behind for this blunt cut that helps you achieve a fuller look. “All the hair that is at the bottom gets cut off so it will have the most density and look super chic,” says New York-based hairstylist Jennifer Yepez. For the bluntest of cuts like Bella Hadid’s, “never use a razor unless it’s a straight edge and never use any thinning shears.” Yepez also likes to use a mousse to perfect a look like this. Try the Best of Beauty-winning IGK Big Time Volume and Thickening Mousse. Apply it from roots to ends of hair with a comb and et voilà — instant body without the weight.
“The rule is, the thinner the hair, the shorter and blunter it should be cut,” says Weller. For a fun twist on a classic bob, try one with a slight angle that’s longer in the front and shorter in the back, à la Jada Pinkett Smith. “The blunt ends create an illusion of weight and fullness,” she notes.
Retro ’70s shag haircuts are back in a big way, and stars like Barbie Ferreira are making the look their own. The bangs help balance out the thin, tapered ends, and Ferreira’s close-cropped version makes thin hair look sculpted and chic. “This low-maintenance cut is great for thin hair because the choppy layers provide tons of movement and texture, creating the illusion that hair is more full,” says New York City-based hairstylist Sally Hershberger.
We like to think of a lob as the kind of hairstyle Goldilocks would choose: It’s not too long and it’s not too short — it hits perfectly right in the middle. At the salon, ask for a cut that’s right above the shoulders like Margot Robbie’s.
Similar to Hadid’s, it’s (surprise, surprise) free of layers and super blunt. If you’ve got thin hair, consider this cut as it creates the appearance of extra weight on the ends. To style: go for a deep side part, apply Amika Blockade Hair Defense Serum, then flip your ends out slightly with a flatiron, which also adds a dose of volume.
Midlength With Long Layers
Joan Smalls’s midlength hair has long, choppy layers, which create movement. But notice that the layers are minimal, preserving the overall fullness and body. This cut works well for those with thin, naturally-textured, but chemically straightened or relaxed hair, which holds shape and allows for volume to be emphasized by the various lengths.
Look closely, and you’ll see that Small’s layers start at the midway point between the crown and ends. To go the extra mile in making hair look thicker, Teddi Cranford, hairstylist, owner, and creative director of White Rose Collective in New York City, recommends adding a volumizing powder to your regimen. “It’s a great tool to give the illusion of thicker strands.” Try the Big Sexy Hair Powder Play Volumizing & Texturizing Powder.
Uniform Medium Length With Blunt Ends
Say hello to the no-fail haircut that looks good on just about everyone. A medium, one-length haircut with blunt ends (notice a theme?) easily creates the appearance of thick hair. Plus, the longer length allows for more freedom in styling if you want to, say, throw it up in a messy bun or high ponytail. Wondering if this cut will suit your face shape? Cranford isn’t so worried. “I think it’s more about personal style and someone’s overall vibe,” she notes. “Confidence goes a long way.”
Medium-Length With Side Bangs
According to Yepez, side bangs are a strategic way to frame the face. Suki Waterhouse’s medium-length cut serves as the perfect balance for her fringe. Why? Bangs add fullness and serve as a distraction from thin hair, especially at the top.
Think about it: side bangs, if you’ve got ’em, are likely the first thing people notice about your hair since they sit at eye level. To finish off a look like Waterhouse’s, add a few spritzes of texturizing spray. “The key is to make sure you style hair with texture so it appears thicker,” she says.
Long All Over
For long hair, over-layering can actually do more harm than good if you want more fullness. Instead, go for one length, like you see here on Anne Hathaway. “Stay away from shaggy layers which can make hair look finer than it is,” says Abergel. “I usually cut dry using a bit of smoothing serum on the ends, which allows me to get the most perfect, sharp line in. To style, I rough-dry with Kusco Murphy’s Setting Lotion and set in rollers for maximum volume. After the haircut, I typically put a soft wave in using a curling iron — this emphasizes the texture and adds movement.”
Chic and Sculpted
Sanaa Lathan famously shaved her head for her role as Violet in Nappily Ever After, so it’s only fitting that she showed off the post-shooting growth at the film’s premiere, pictured above. (The actor has been growing out her curls ever since, to gorgeous results.) Whether you’re in this stage of growth or simply maintaining length, her high and sculpted look above is an elegant choice. Therese recommends shaping the curls with Oribe Grandiose Hair Plumping Mousse, which adds volume and structure.
Blunt with Curtain Bangs
“The trend here is ‘blunt,'” says New York City-based hairstylist Jasmine Burnside. “Finer hair is less dense, so the cutting technique for this type of texture is very important.” Burnside suggests asking your stylist to use a scissor, not a razor, and cut a blunt line tailored to give the appearance of a thick perimeter. Keeping the hair all one length also builds up shape and density, instead of hair that falls flat. Also, be sure your stylist is cutting a fringe that is long enough to be considered a curtain bang, but short enough so you’re not left with medium-length hair and super-long bangs as it grows out.
Texture On Top
Jada Pinkett Smith has been open about her struggles with hair loss, inadvertently turning herself into something of a hair icon. “A lot of people with fine hair use pixie cuts to disguise thin or sparse areas,” explains Therese. “With pixies, you can maximize shape by moving the hair in different directions and getting it to stay there.”
Here, Pinkett Smith calls attention to the texture she has on the crown of her head, and minimizes sparse areas by shaving the back and sides, all while looking like a badass in the process. Therese says heavy-hold products (like Bumble and Bumble Sumoclay) are best for making sure your style flips in the exact right direction.
Party in the Front
Face-framing is a stylist’s go-to trick to create volume. Take Zoe Saldana’s classic, old-Hollywood waves, for example, which are curled to perfection to accentuate her features. “Nice face-framing helps add density, body, and movement to make hair appear fuller so that strands aren’t sitting flat around the face,” says Leo Izquierdo, Miami- and New York City-based hairstylist. “[The hair] flows more freely and hits on different areas around the hairline.”
Deep Side Part
Similar to Saldana’s look but just a smidge further from the center, Cara Delevingne’s deep side part helps stack the hair on one side of the face, creating literal thickness and volume on the chosen side. Hershberger turns to deep side parts to give hair “extra body,” then follows up the cut with her a mousse. Try the Best of Beauty-winning John Frieda Luxurious Volume Perfectly Full Mousse.
“Many people tend to think that mousse is only meant for curlier hair, but [I like to use it to] create beautiful, full-bodied blowouts on thinner hair,” she says. “The best part is that it’s so lightweight that it won’t weigh down thin strands.”
Layers and Texture
“I encourage my clients to go with textured looks at any length, creating the illusion of layers and keeping a one-length style to create softness and lift, adding fullness,” says Bailey Englert, a hairstylist at Fekkai in New York City.
“Soft” is the exact word we’d use for J-Law’s cut and windblown texture here. Look closely and you can see a few shorter pieces up front, but this largely one-length, mid-length, middle-parted style is elevated with the addition some energetic texture. Grab a texturizing spray, like the Best of Beauty-winning Verb Volume Dry Texture Spray to achieve and “maintain volume and fullness,” as Englert suggests.
Long and Blunt
The word “blunt” is typically followed by “bob,” so it’s easy to forget that long hair looks just as sleek and dramatic (not to mention full) with straight ends. “Whether you love wearing your hair long or short, it’s so important to remember to keep the ends of the cut blunt,” says Jill Buck, a hairstylist at Nine Zero One in Los Angeles. “This gives the illusion of hair being thicker and healthy. Now, just because it’s blunt doesn’t mean you can’t have layers, but again, those strands need to remain blunt.” Kate Bosworth keeps things simple here with an all-across cut that works even with hair long past her shoulders.
Medium and Blunt
If you don’t have the patience to let your hair grow as long as Bosworth’s, or the courage to chop it as short as Hadid’s, try a midlength moment as you see here on Kourtney Kardashian. “The blunt bottom of a bob gives the illusion of thicker hair (as opposed to wispy layered ends which can make thin hair look even thinner),” Potempa explains. “This cut is a classic style that offers a straight line. The precision of the angles and lines are super important to work with your face shape so make sure to bring inspiration pictures in.” Feel free to screenshot away.
On first glance, Duff’s hair looks as though it could be a textured, one-length cut. But look closely, and you’ll see some layers around the crown of her head, while the ends stay — you guessed it — blunt. More layers up top (or “invisible layers,” as Izquierdo calls them) can be added “throughout the head to make hair appear more dense, rather than lying flat.” This sneaky cut gives Duff some added body, and Izquierdo suggests lending it some extra styling oomph in the form of lightweight texture and volume with a thickening spray.
Long, Choppy Layers
Los Angeles-based Nine Zero One stylist Sarah Klein has a rule of thumb when it comes to thin hair: “For long hair, keep the layers long too,” she says. “Layers tend to remove weight and can make hair look thinner. Long layers will remove just the right amount of weight to add volume at the root while keeping density throughout.”
Hailey Bieber’s 2021 Met Gala hair is a balancing act — it doesn’t fan out into layers until just past her shoulders, which helps give a bit of choppy texture and maintains volume up top.
If you’re looking for a chop way, way above the shoulders, show your stylist Yvonne Orji’s flippy bob. You’ll notice that despite the wave at the ends, it’s clear the hair here is all one length, which gives the density you’d expect from a more traditional bob. But thanks to the flip, all that density is doubled, making the hairstyle look truly thick at the perimeter.
Adam Federico, a Sacramento-based hairstylist, breaks down why this style works so well: “Generally on thinner or finer hair, wearing the length shorter — at the collar bone or above — will give the illusion of more substance and density on the bottom edge,” he says. “I would [recommend] minimal amount of layering at the crown of the head and interior, keeping the majority of dentistry along the bottom.”
Above the Shoulders
Continuing his geometry lesson, Federico explains “a very classic bob that’s all one length will give the illusion of maximum density in the hair, while a graduated bob helps build a bit of fullness through the bottom edge of the hair and maintains weight through the perimeter line.”
Lucy Hale has pulled off both classic and graduated short styles in the past, but this look that lands just above her shoulders is an example of a classic bob. Federico styles similar cuts with a thickening foam (like the R+Co Rodeo Star Thickening Style Foam) used from the roots to mid-shaft to create more density, volume, and fullness.
If you’ve been studying your haircut options for thin hair, think of Kristen Stewart’s style as the one that will get you extra credit. It combines the best features of a graduated lob, a deep side part, and face-framing layers and finishes it off with some choppy waves.
Therese recreates similar looks with a texturizing spray (like the Kristin Ess Dry Finish Working Texture Spray) which, she says, “adds texture to your strands making them appear thicker and more energetic.” The spray gives your hair “an almost electric energy,” which is exactly what we’d say Stewart is serving in this photo.
With hair this short, who could even tell if it’s fine or thick? Kristen Wiig rigs the deck with less than two inches of length all around the head and a subtle cowlicked swoop of forehead-grazing bangs.
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