7 Stylist-Approved Ways To Give Your Hair Volume (No Hot Tools Necessary)
Those partial to an air-dry or wash-and-go, picture this: You style your hair to perfection post-rinse, only to find it looking deflated after just a couple of hours. You may lift, tease, or switch up your part in the hopes of reviving the look, but those locks just seem to stick to your roots like a magnet. Not to fret (or throw your hair into a bun in defeat), there are a multitude of ways to volumize your hair and keep it from looking flat.
An important note before diving into it: Flat hair actually refers to strands that lie close to the crown of the head, usually with a finer texture. That said, you can absolutely have curls, coils, or waves and still struggle with flat hair, especially if your scalp is oilier. While those tendrils may lie limp near your face, the real problem stems from the roots—it all starts with those hair follicles.
Below, seven stylist-approved ways to give your hair volume that lasts all day. Time for the fluffy, full hair of dreams:
Try a scalp scrub.
Full, glossy hair starts with the scalp, no? "Clarifying the hair every so often is a great step," explains texture specialist and artistic director at Matrix Michelle O'Connor. Especially if you're experiencing some buildup (be it oil, product residue, or just overall gunk), as it can cause inflammation around the follicle and actually pull the hair down. That said, some regular scrubbing can rejuvenate those strands—may we suggest one of these 11 options?
Check your shampoo habits.
On the subject of buildup, let's chat shampoos. You may be partial to a sulfate-free option (sulfates can strip the scalp of its natural oils and become extremely drying, especially for those with natural and curly hair), but be mindful that these products don't typically lather up. A lot of these products have really gentle surfactants that have hydrating actives, and you can't apply them as you would a traditional shampoo and expect them to foam. They require a bit more work to make sure you're lifting up all the oil and gunk (read: buildup can weigh down your strands). So reflect on your shampoo technique: Perhaps learn how you should actually be shampooing here.
Stick to lightweight products.
For shiny, frizz-free hair, sealing in moisture is key—but if you find your hair routinely drying flat, you may want to experiment with lightweight oils and leave-ins in order to lock in hydration without weighing down the strands. If it works for your hair type, you might want to scrunch as well, says Nick Stenson, celebrity hairstylist and artistic director at Matrix. Scrunching can "encourage the hair to hold a natural pattern when applying curl refining products."
Try towel-drying before using stylers.
But it's not just about the types of products you choose—it's when you apply them that matters as well. According to hairstylist and founder of Hair Rules Anthony Dickey, "If you have a flatter texture, you'll want to remove more water from the hair before you start your styling technique." Not too much, as you always want to apply styling creams on wet hair, regardless of hair type. So if you're looking to revive flat hair, try a little towel dry pre-product. As Dickey notes, "if you put product on when it's sopping wet, [the hair's] just going to be flatter."
Rinse your hair upside down.
The key to volumizing flat hair is to lift the strands from the scalp: You can do so with scalp scrubs and stylers, sure, but O'Connor mentions that a physical lift can fare well for some. Start in the shower: Rinse your hair upside down to "start the process of lifting the hair away from the scalp," O'Connor explains. After applying your conditioner, simply flip your hair upside down in the shower as you rake out the product.
Consider hair plopping.
Hair plopping is great for hair that fares well with a little scrunching. Essentially, you're cradling your hair into a T-shirt, then setting it on the top of your head for a no-fuss air-dry. According to O'Connor, the plopping method is especially great for those who struggle with limp curls: "It can add volume in the crown by creating lift at the roots," she says. It can also give you an enhanced, frizz-free curl (the tee is much softer on your hair shaft than a traditional towel, which can take out too much moisture). So if you frequently face hair that lies flat, hair plopping can become a win-win for volume and definition.
Attempt an ACV rinse.
Another clarifying option, the acidic nature of apple cider vinegar can give you great results (it's no wonder the solution is formulated into so many professional products of late). In terms of an at-home rinse, it's incredibly easy to DIY: Just mix ½ tablespoon of ACV for every 1 cup of cold water, and let it sit on the hair for around five minutes before rinsing it out. If you have really oily hair and lots of buildup, you can use it after your shampoo for a deep clean. Use it this way only when you need to really clarify the scalp, as it's too drying otherwise.
There are tons more ways to keep your strands from lying flat at the root, not to mention certain haircuts to create the illusion of volumized hair. But start with these seven, and see how you fare; sometimes, a good clarifying rinse can work wonders. Now ready to combine all that volume with mega-watt shine? Check out our guide to glossy hair.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and more. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.