Fine hair and thin hair are two terms that get thrown around interchangeably, but they’re not actually the same thing. When talking about fine hair, you’re referring to the actual density of the hair strand. Whereas thin hair means you have less volume of hair on your head, which can make the scalp visible. “All hair types (including fine and thick hair) can be thin,” Dr. Iris Rubin, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of SEEN Haircare previously told InStyle.
If you fall into the latter category, you might feel like you’re limited on styling options — especially in terms of updos. But certain Styles work like optical illusions: they don’t draw attention to thin areas, but instead, make hair appear thicker and more voluminous.
To help you out, we tapped top hairstylists to share their favorite updos for thin hair, and spill their expert tips on how to style each look.
Before getting into the actual styling, Celebrity hairstylist T3 Ambassador David Lopez says it’s important to prep the hair so that the updo will hold. “One thing to think about is that updos that are very tight and slick to the head can show off how fine the hair actually is, so in general, an updo with a bit more texture and fullness to it will be your best bet,” Lopez says.
The best foundation for an updo is a voluminous one, so the stylist recommends washing your hair and then adding your desired texture to it. “Add in a foam or mousse that will add some memory to the hair, then rough dry your hair on low speed, high heat,” Lopez shares. “A rough dry is using just the dryer and your hands while using the wider concentrator option with your dryer which will expand the hair cuticle for more volume.”
Once your hair is completely dry, you can smooth it with a paddle brush, then curl/add texture to the hair. Lopez’s tools of choice are T3’s AireLuxe Dryer and Singlepass Curl Iron in .75 or 1 inch depending on your desired texture. Add a Volumizing powder or texture spray for some grit.
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The Best Updos for Thin Hair
Messy Top Knot
To achieve this effortless style, Celebrity hairstylist, Andrew Fitzsimons, suggests building texture with a hairspray like the Après Sexe Texture Spray from his namesake haircare line.
“Then pull your hair into a high ponytail and brush it away from your forehead,” Fitzsimons says. “Divide your ponytail into two sections, wrap each section around each other and then form a bun and secure.” Leave out any excess pieces for a messy, lived-in look.
A loose chignon like Meghan Markle’s signature updo is a great option for anyone with thin hair. “You can do a loose ponytail, split it in half, then put it into a rope twist, which you can mold into a beautiful chignon by pinning at the base of the pony,” Lopez says.
Sculpted High Bun
This “simple yet chic” style is a favorite of Fitzsimons and his clients like Khloé Kardashian.
“Wrap your hair into a few separate twists, then pull it all together tightly into a high bun near the crown of your head,” the stylist says. “Pro tip: spray a toothbrush with a little bit of hairspray and use it to lay down any flyaways.”
“Leave a few face-framing pieces around the face to hide any thinness and pull the rest back into a ponytail,” Lopez suggests when doing a ponytail on thin hair. “Use hairspray and your hair dryer to really slick everything down.” If you want added fullness, the stylist suggests adding a ponytail extension into the mix.
Low Wavy Bun
This easy updo is so versatile — it works for days when you need a quick style, but it also looks elegant on a red carpet like Gemma Chan’s low wavy bun at the 2019 Golden Globes.
“Start with dry hair, then tie your hair into a loose ponytail. Divide the ponytail into two sections and start curling your hair, once curled, put it into a bun,” Fitzsimons says. “This look will add depth and dimension and is best when locked in with hairspray.” Try the Touch Soft Hold Hairspray from Fitzsimon’s line. It Locks Styles into place without leaving hair feeling hard and crunchy.