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How To Get Fluffy, Voluminous Hair: 6 Easy Steps, From Top Hairstylists

October 25, 2022
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Call it the '90s effect, but fluffy hair is back in action. It seems every time I open up my TikTok app, I come across some user instructing the masses on how to achieve glossy, voluminous locks. Nostalgic beauty is certainly on-trend—and with the resurgence of glossy lips, icy shadow, and (gasp!) skinny brows, it's no surprise that the big '90s blowout is making a comeback. 

That said, you don't necessarily need to grab the blow dryer to nail the bouncy look. At its core, fluffy hair is really just healthy, moisturized hair (with the help of some expert-approved styling tricks). Here, we asked the pros for a step-by-step guide. 

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What is fluffy hair? 

You know it when you see it: Fluffy hair toes the line between effortless, bouncy volume and smooth, silky shine. "It gives the hair voluminous bounce without the beach waves," says Jennifer Matos, stylist at Rita Hazan. "It's a classic supermodel '90s vibe." 

Fluffy hair refers to the volume, not necessarily the texture—any hair type can master a fluffy look—and you don't necessarily need a blow-out to achieve the bounce (but more on that later). On that note, fluffy hair looks different from frizzy hair: Frizz is more of a dehydrated hair texture, while fluff is more about layers and volume. "Frizzy hair refers to texture and doesn't necessarily need to be a voluminous look—which I still love to embrace!" says celebrity hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons, founder of the eponymous hair care brand. That said, if fluffy hair is your main goal, you've come to the right place. 

How to get a fluffy hair look. 

Here's how to get fluffy hair—both with and without hot tools: 

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1.

Use volumizing yet hydrating hair care. 

As any hair expert will tell you: A great style starts in the shower. If you're after definition, use curl-enhancing shampoos and conditioners; if you'd like to focus on hydration, grab a moisturizing set. And if you're gunning for a fluffy, bouncy 'do—consider volumizing formulas your new best friends. 

Especially if you have finer hair that tends to appear flat at the root, a volumizing shampoo can lift your strands, create the illusion of fullness, and give your mane much more body. Of course, you don't want to forget about hydration entirely (remember: Fluffy hair appears soft and weightless, so moisture is key). You'll want to use a nourishing leave-in conditioner post-rinse, ideally one that smooths and softens without weighing down the strands. 

2.

Next, add a texturizing spray. 

Next up: "Towel dry and apply a volumizer," says Matos. "This will help lift the roots and add hold to the body of the hair. Spray at least 8 to 10 inches away from the roots." Depending on your hair's texture, you may want to towel-dry your locks a bit before spritzing. As hairstylist Anthony Dickey once told us about applying stylers post-shower: "If you put product on when it's sopping wet, it's just going to be flatter." (On the flip side, if frizz is a main concern for you, it's best to slide in a styler as soon as you can so you can seal in as much moisture as possible.) 

If you do opt for the towel-dry, "be careful and be gentle with your locks, and use a microfiber towel," says Fitzsimons. "We often forget how fragile our hair is!"  

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3.

Blow-dry or air-dry. 

Now, for the main event, you'll want to use a blow dryer. Before even thinking about picking up a hot tool, make sure to give your damp hair a good spritz with heat protectant (find our favorites here). Then separate your hair into sections: The specific number of sections will depend on how much hair you have, but if volume is your goal, taking relatively larger sections of hair will offer more bounce (smaller, concentrated sections tend to lie flatter). 

"I like starting with three sections—one on each side at each temple and one in the front," Dickey previously told mbg about blow-drying hair. You can also add a fourth section at the crown and perhaps one or two extra in the back if needed. Matos prefers using a boar bristle round brush for the blow-dry, as it can create more tension (and, therefore, lift) while preventing breakage. 

If you'd like to stick to an air-dry, that's perfectly fine—feel free to skip this step and head straight for the setting tip below. 

4.

Set with rollers. 

Consider rollers your secret weapons for fluffy hair. To achieve a bouncy look that lasts, you'll need to set the hair while it's still hot. Reach for Velcro options, as these rollers tend to have a wider diameter, which gives you that fresh, just had a blowout mane (while sponges or flexirods often result in tighter ringlets). 

You can also do this with an air-dry: "Towel dry your hair very carefully, and wet-set your hair with Velcro or silicone rollers," advises Fitzsimons (wet-setting with rollers is a great way to manipulate and enhance your natural curl pattern without using heat). As always, make sure to place the pins or clips gently in your hair; you never want the rollers to tug or pull at the strands. 

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5.

Apply hairspray and shake the roots. 

"Once your hair is set in rollers, spray a light hairspray," says Matos. "Set the blow-dryer on cool and apply to each roller." The shot of cool air will further set the look, especially if you opt for an air-dry. "Once it's cool, take out the rollers, flip your head upside down, and apply more hairspray," adds Matos. "Use your fingers to shake [out] the roots while applying the hairspray. Flip your head back, and you're all set." 

Just know that the longer you wait to shake, the more definition you'll have. If you shake the roots too early, your fluffy hair may fall. It's a delicate dance, as everyone's hair is different—find the wait time that works best for you! 

6.

Use a silk or satin pillowcase. 

If you've reached this point, you now likely sport a head of fluffy, '90s-inspired hair. Sweet! To maintain the look for as long as possible, both Matos and Fitzsimons recommend investing in a silk or satin pillowcase. "This will help keep the hair intact throughout the night without tugging or damaging your strands," Fitzsimons explains. 

To really give the volume some staying power, Matos suggests flipping your head upside down and creating a loose, top-knot bun before bed—you'll just need a few hairpins and perhaps a silk scrunchie. "[The] key is not to make a tight top-knot," she warns; otherwise, you may create a dent in your style or promote breakage. 

Products for fluffy hair.

Briogeo

Briogeo Blossom & Bloom Ginseng + Biotin Hair Volumizing Shampoo

$ 28
Briogeo’s formula calls on maltodextrin—a starch-like substance that creates a film-like coating on the hair, which thickens the strands and gives the appearance of a fuller mane. Additionally, you’ll find ginseng root extract to combat free radicals and biotin to strengthen strands.
Briogeo Blossom & Bloom Ginseng + Biotin Hair Volumizing Shampoo

adwoa beauty

adwoa beauty Melonberry Hair Milk Leave-In Conditioner

$ 24
This leave-in does it all: It smooths, moisturizes, detangles, and softens without weighing down the strands. A hydrating-yet-lightweight product is key to maintain a bouncy style, and this formula is an A+ pick. Not to mention, the strawberry scent is just divine.
adwoa beauty Melonberry Hair Milk Leave-In Conditioner

Andrew Fitzsimons

Andrew Fitzsimons Body Volume Blowdry Hold Spray

$ 14
Fitzsimons' volumizing spray is perfect for a big, 90s-inspired blowout. It creates the perfect amount of lift without ever making your tresses feel stiff or crunchy. Plus, the more you spray, the more volume you’ll have; you can really customize to your desired level of bounce.
Andrew Fitzsimons Body Volume Blowdry Hold Spray

Luxy Hair

Luxy Hair Velcro Hair Rollers

$ 25
Matos loves this volumizing velcro set, which comes with 18 rollers, 9 creaseless hair clips, and a (very chic) vegan leather top handle bag.
Luxy Hair Velcro Hair Rollers

Living Proof

Living Proof Flex Hairspray

$ 27
This medium-hold spray is the perfect finishing touch. Your ‘do won’t dare budge, but it will retain a soft texture.
Living Proof Flex Hairspray

Good Side

Good Side Standard Silk Pillowcase

$ 89
Both Fitzsimons and Matos suggest investing in a silk pillowcase to maintain the longevity of your style. You can’t go wrong with this 100% Mulberry silk option—the sage green hue is especially easy on the eye.
Good Side Standard Silk Pillowcase

The takeaway. 

Big, fluffy blowout hair is not so difficult to achieve at home—and you don't even need a blow dryer to nail the look, if you choose. While a layered cut is key to the bouncy, flattering shape, it's really all about healthy, weightless volume. Feel free to check out our full guide to heatless curls for more inspiration, from big, barrel curls to tighter ringlets. 

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