Controlling the Volume of Your Hair

You can create more volume or fullness with even the limpest of locks by manipulating the roots of the hair.

  • If you want the hair to be full at the crown, blow-dry the hair forward (toward the face) until it's nearly dry, and then brush it back.
  • For longer hair or spiky hairdos, dry the root area with the head bent over and the hair hanging upside down.
  • For shorter hair types or for slightly less volume, hold the hair straight up from the scalp or straight-out from the sides, while drying the roots.

Kick it up a notch

Styling aids, such as sprays, mousses, and gels, naturally enhance all these techniques. You can find endless brands and varieties of styling aids on the shelves, but the majority of them fall into three formulations: light, medium (or normal), and firm (or strong) holds. Within all three of these categories, you can also choose to use volumizing or smoothing products. All these formulations are easy to spot, by the way, because the holding factor and purpose of the product is mentioned on the front label of nearly all styling products.

The natural abilities of the hair and the amount of fullness you desire determine which formula to use on the roots of the hair. If the hair is particularly limp, for example, you'd choose a medium-hold volumizing product for a moderate amount of fullness and a strong hold volumizing product for even more fullness.

The trick is to concentrate the majority of the product on the root area where the most lift is needed. If you decide that a firm formula is the way to go, consider using a lighter formula on the balance of the hair to avoid a stiff finish to your style (unless, of course, stiff is the look you're going for).

Following are some tips for getting the best volume and overall style with various hair types and styling aids. The styling aids really pump up the hair, and superimposing these products over amplifying shampoos and conditioners creates far better results.

  • With fine hair textures, avoid using any type of gel at the root area because this type of product has more weight and often creates more sagging than lifting. Instead, use a styling spray or mousse.
  • For medium hair textures, use either a light gel, lotion, styling spray, or mousse to create lift at the root area. If you want to use a gel, put a nickel-size amount of the product in the palm of one hand and rub your hands together. Use your hands to apply the slick of gel to the first inch or two of hair next to the scalp. This method allows you to spread the product more evenly throughout the root area.
  • For coarse or curly hair textures, use a medium to strong gel to create a slight lift at the roots, and a smoother texture overall. Choosing a formula specifically made to "smooth" the hair shaft gives the best styling results.
    To apply the gel, put a nickel-size to quarter-size application of product in the palm of one hand and rub your hands together. Use your hands to apply the slick of gel to the first inch or two of hair next to the scalp. Next, run the remaining product residue left on your hands through the shaft and ends of the hair. By applying the gel this way, you allow the product to spread more evenly, while helping to smooth and better control the hair.
    If the hair is moderately dry, do what the pros do by mixing two or three drops of a leave-in conditioner with a nickel-size of gel. Mix the two products together in the palm of your hand and run it through the hair.

Take it down a notch

Some people can't get their hair to stand up, but others can't seem to get it to lie down. If you have to deal with hair that has too much volume, you can use certain products and techniques to make that hair behave better.

First, you need to make sure that the hair is richly conditioned — including using a leave-in conditioner just prior to styling. After you take care of the condition of the hair, you can control volume by following the growth of the hair. If the hair is supposed to hang straight down from the head, for instance, blow-drying the hair in that direction helps discourage excessive lifting. And for a smoother, flatter top, blow-drying the hair in the exact direction of the style can do wonders for controlling buoyant hair. Using a classic styling brush, rather than a round or vented brush, also encourages the hair to remain close to the head.

Hair that's naturally too full can be troublesome, but you can easily tame it by using good blow-drying techniques and the right products. These products help calm the excitable nature of buoyant hair, while smoothing the cuticle layer — something that's frequently open in this type of hair, making it difficult for the hair to retain moisture. Sealing the cuticle layer is particularly important for dry, damaged, or frizzy hair because these hair types don't normally lie smoothly or possess even a semblance of shine.

To control overly full hair, you need the following products:

  • Deeply moisturizing shampoos and conditioners: These two items provide a good foundation for improving the behavior of too-fluffy hair.
  • A leave-in conditioner: This product is helpful when you use it just prior to blow-drying the hair. The brands you choose to use should add moisture, provide better control, and tame frizzies.
  • A medium or heavy gel: A styling aid with this kind of strength helps manhandle hair that's overly full because the sheer weight of it keeps things under better control.
  • A styling serum for curly, full, or frizzy hair: Use this excellent product to smooth the cuticle layer. Make sure to follow the application instructions on the bottle because many of these products are extremely concentrated! Some styling serums also have thermal heat protectant ingredients, which is beneficial to all hair types but particularly to those that tend to become dry.
    If you're using a heavy gel at the roots, apply your serum, beginning 1 inch away from the scalp to prevent over-coating the hair with product.
  • Pomade, wax, or styling paste: Finish the hair with one of these products to give it superior control. These heavy products help calm frizzes, while encouraging the hair to lay the way it was styled. When applying pomade, put a pea-size of product in the palm of one hand and then vigorously rub your hands together. When applying this product to the hair, skip the first inch of hair next to the scalp as this can cause the root area to be excessively oily. Never use a body-enhancing product on this type of hair.
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