Fine, limp or flyaway hair? Add volume and fullness with the best hair thickening treatments and styling products
If you’re hoping to add volume to hair quickly and easily, then the best hair thickening products are the place to start. In a perfect world, we’d all have shiny, thick hair that looks lush and swings with bounce when you flick it. Sadly, Mother Nature has left some of us a little short in that department. But don’t despair: there are countless products on the market designed to amplify hair thickness, and UK sales of volumising hair products are now worth over £80 million per year.
Many things can contribute to flat, fine or thinning hair, including hormonal changes, overall hair health, or it could just be your natural hair type and texture. We’ve sorted through the shampoos, conditioners, treatments and styling products that address those issues to provide a guide to the best products for adding fullness to fine hair. See our guide on how to choose the right hair thickening products for you, and then scroll on for our favourite products.
Best hair thickening products: At a glance
How to choose the right hair thickening products for you
What causes limp, flat and thinning hair?
The texture of hair is in large part defined by the width at which it grows from the follicles; this is genetically determined. To test the natural texture of your hair, pluck a strand and roll it between your fingers. If you can’t feel it, your natural hair texture is fine. Naturally blonde hair is often finer than black, brunette or red hair, for example, so if you’re a Nordic blonde then you may find your tresses are fine-textured. To improve the volume of fine-textured hair, look for products that hydrate and bulk up the cuticle to make individual hairs appear fuller.
The other factor that determines the thickness of hair is the density, or the number of hairs on the head. Again, a thinner hair density can be the result of genetics; but it can also be caused by stress, poor diet, or hormonal changes that come with ageing. Thinning hair is also common after giving birth and during breastfeeding, and can occur as a result of a vitamin/mineral deficiency, too, as well as a result of other medical issues. If you’ve noticed recent changes to your hair’s density, speak to your GP to determine if there’s an underlying physical cause that needs to be addressed.
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How do hair thickening products work?
Products that improve scalp health can help hair to grow to its maximum natural strength and slow the process of shedding (where the hair drops out of the follicle). Hair thickening products can’t change the natural texture or density of your hair; but they can nourish and hydrate the hair so that each individual strand appears thicker.
Typical ingredients found in such formulas include moisturising oils and hydrators such as hyaluronic acid to boost the hair’s moisture content, plumping it from within, alongside wheat or rice proteins to strengthen the hair’s outer layer. Thickening treatments may also include ingredients such as collagen, which boosts the health of the live portion of the hair that grows just below the surface of the scalp, so that over time new hair grows back as thick and strong as possible.
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What else can help with fine and thinning hair?
A good haircut can help to revive thinning hair by cutting away any broken and flyaway ends. If your long hair is limp then you may find the length is weighing down your hair and a shorter style may encourage more volume and bounce. A blunter cut will reduce wispy ends and help hair look fuller and healthier. Avoid styling formulas designed to make hair look shimmery, as well as those with silicones or pearlising agents that will make hair limp.
If you heat-style your hair, be sure to use a lower temperature on fine hair to avoid damage and breakage to the ends. To add volume to the roots, add a spritz of volumising spray or mousse, turning your head upside-down as you blow-dry to encourage some extra lift.
How we test hair thickening products
At Expert Reviews, we know that the best way to test a product is to use it ourselves. As such, we test all the hair thickening products we review by trialling them on our own shoulder-length, fine hair.
We start by considering the active ingredients used in each product and the product type (shampoo, conditioner or styling product). Next, we use the product following the directions, and assess the look and feel of the hair immediately after use. We note any immediate moisturising, volumising and thickening effects; and any further benefits with repeated use over time. We also note the amount of product required for a single use, and the scent and overall pleasantness of each product.
1. Nexxus Diametress Shampoo: Best volumising shampoo
Price when reviewed: £23 | Check price at Amazon This protein-rich volumising shampoo will make locks stronger and give even delicate hair a noticeably fuller look. It reduces static, too, which can be a common problem with finer hair. The moisture-boosting formula with ginseng and flaxseed smells great and leaves hair feeling fresh for days.
Including gentle cleansers and vitamin B5, Nexxus Diametress lifts hair from the roots without adding weight to the ends. A small amount delivers great results: massage into wet hair, leave in for a few minutes and then rinse out.
Key details – Product type: Shampoo; Quantity: 400ml
2. OGX Thick & Full Biotin & Collagen Shampoo: Best value hair-thickening shampoo
Price when reviewed: £4.68 | Check price at Lookfantastic This shampoo from stylist-led brand OGX contains biotin (also known as vitamin B7) and collagen to plump up hair from within. The thick, rich formula also includes wheat protein to strengthen hair and help reduce breakage. Sulphate- and paraben-free, the formulation is quite thick; but it spreads easily through the hair and lathers well.
In terms of fragrance, the shampoo is slightly sweet-smelling, but not unpleasant. As the name suggests, Thick & Full leaves hair soft and bouncy, and definitely looking thicker – all for under a fiver.
Key details – Product type: Shampoo; Quantity: 385ml
3. Christophe Robin Cleansing Volumising Paste: Best volumising shampoo for greasy hair
Price when reviewed: £40 | Check price at John Lewis
Have you ever heard of shampoo paste? We hadn’t either until we got our hands on this Christophe Robin Cleansing Volumising Paste. Granted, we didn’t know what to do with it at first, since it arrives in a mask-like tub, but we figured it out; it isn’t rocket science. Scoop out a tablespoon-sized dollop and apply to your head as you would any other shampoo – and on using it, we quickly realised the reason this product comes in at the higher end of the price scale. Delivering a superior clean with just one application, as opposed to the regular double shampooings we’re used to, we immediately felt its thickening effects.
One common culprit for flat and lifeless hair is grease that can weigh hair down. This paste zaps hair oil into oblivion, leaving nothing but a squeaky-clean scalp and a spa-like scent. Some customers couldn’t get past the fact that it doesn’t come in the regular squeezy or pump bottle, while others felt like it was too much for their dry hair. However, for those with oily hair that’s limp, difficult to style and requires washing daily, this is definitely worth a try.
Key details – Product type: Cleansing paste; Quantity: 250ml
4. Paul Mitchell Lemon Sage Conditioner: Best conditioner for thicker locks
Price when reviewed: £19 | Check price at Lookfantastic The usual advice for fine hair is to avoid rich conditioners, since they can weigh down hair and make it look limp and droopy. However, this creamy, zesty conditioner from Paul Mitchell hydrates dry ends without adding weight, while leaving the rest of your head of hair full of body.
A firm favourite among hairstylists and beauty editors, it also strengthens locks and boosts shine. The product leaves hair smelling lovely and fresh, with its fragrance lingering all day. Plus, you won’t need much of it, so the bottle should last you a while.
Key details – Product type: Conditioner; Quantity: 300ml
5. Kiehl’s Rice & Wheat Volumizing Conditioning Rinse: Best conditioner for thin hair
Price when reviewed: £22 | Check price at John Lewis Kiehl’s conditioning rinse is used after shampooing like any other conditioner; but unlike heavy conditioners, it moisturises the hair to give body without weighing it down. Resulting in hair that’s more manageable and easier to style, it also makes it look noticeably more voluminous.
The conditioning rinse acts as a great detangler, and helps prevent split-ends, too. It smells gorgeous and feels like a real treat for hair; try it with the shampoo in the same range for an even greater boost to volume.
Key details – Product type: Conditioning rinse; Quantity: 200ml
6. Noughty Get Set, Grow Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner: Best shampoo/conditioner duo
Price when reviewed: £9.59 (bundle) | Check price at Lookfantastic The Get Set, Grow range from sustainable brand Noughty uses natural pea sprout extract to add volume and moisture to hair, while caffeine increases circulation to the scalp to stimulate hair growth.
The shampoo has a subtle but fresh scent and feels gently tingly on the scalp on applying; the lightweight hydrating conditioner with moisture-trapping hyaluronic acid adds volume and shine. Use the two together for a super-clean feel and noticeable volumising effect.
Key details – Product type: Shampoo and conditioner; Quantity: 250ml each
7. Grow Gorgeous Intense Shampoo and Conditioner: Best hair thickening shampoo/conditioner duo
Price when reviewed: £23 | Check price at Lookfantastic Once you’ve tried any item from the Grow Gorgeous Intense range, we’re certain that you’ll be hooked for the scent alone. Although this isn’t the only reason to pick up the Intense shampoo and conditioner, it’s a noteworthy mention since it’s absolutely delectable and lingers in your hair right up until the next wash. This duo is made with the brand’s richly nourishing and thickening hair formula that includes a mix of super ingredients such as keratin, caffeine, biotin, amino acids, niacinamide and rice protein.
The shampoo deep cleans from the scalp through to the ends of the hair, delivering nutrients to both the scalp and strands. It’s designed to nurture and strengthen hair, boost elasticity to reduce breakage and enhance shine. The conditioner works alongside the shampoo to fortify locks and make them stronger and thicker, while maintaining softness. What’s more, the formula also includes ingredients that stimulate the hair follicles to promote hair growth. Having used the duo for a fortnight, we found our tresses felt soft and smooth, yet fuller and more manageable – and did we mention the divine smell?
Key details – Product type: Shampoo and conditioner; Quantity: 250ml each
8. Grow Gorgeous Intense Hair Growth Serum: Best serum for fine, thinning hair
Price when reviewed: £34 | Check price at Lookfantastic Sporting the same amazing fragrance as the shampoo and conditioner in Grow Gorgeous’s Intense range, this Hair Growth Serum promises to restore limp, lacklustre and thinning hair into a full-bodied and youthful barnet. The product is vegan, gluten-free and also free from parabens, sulphates, silicones, and phthalates. It’s made with a cocktail of biomimetic peptide, Chinese skullcap, organic pea sprout extract, red clover extract, caffeine and larch tree green tea. These ingredients stimulate the roots to boost blood flow and encourage hair growth.
When embarking on a hair growth treatment journey, it can take anywhere from six months to a year to see significant results. However, having used just a bottle of this stuff (10–20 drops from the included dropper after each wash, three times a week), we could definitely notice baby hairs around the hairline sprouting. The formula is lightweight and doesn’t leave the hair greasy. Men can use it, too, although the scent might prove too feminine for some.
Key details – Product type: Hair growth serum; Quantity: 60ml
9. Scandinavian Biolabs Bio-Pilixin® Activation Serum: Best serum for hair growth
Price when reviewed: £49 | Check price at Amazon A naturally derived, vegan hair treatment from Scandinavian Biolabs, this formula comprises niacinamide, aloe vera and Scandinavian Biolabs’ own proprietary Capilia Longa compound that’s been clinically proven to improve hair growth while boosting strength and thickness.
Apply using the special pipette, massage into the scalp and leave overnight before rinsing in the morning. You’ll feel a light tingling on the scalp as the serum takes effect. You’ll notice a reduction in hair fall after around six weeks, and improvement to hair growth after 4–5 months. This version is particularly designed for women, but a version for men is also available.
Key details – Product type: Treatment serum; Quantity: 100ml
10. Oribe Maximista Thickening Spray: Best thickening spray
Price when reviewed: £36 | Check price at Cult Beauty No time to wash your hair before a night out, but want to get rid of flyaways? Simply spritz this product onto dry hair and ruffle with your hands for instant volume. There’s no nasty residue, nor does it make your hair look greasy, dull, heavy or flat – all common problems with other hair thickening sprays.
You can use the formula on wet hair – in fact, you’ll get extra thermal protection if you do. It doesn’t smell all that lovely, but in our opinion, it’s worth the compromise for gloriously full locks with minimum effort.
Key details – Product type: Thickening spray; Quantity: 200ml
11. Aveda Thickening Tonic: Best blow-dry lotion
Price when reviewed: £27 | Check price at John Lewis This blow-dry lotion combines wheat proteins and natural plant gums to add bulk to hair and give it a significantly thicker texture. Use it before blow-drying locks and you’ll certainly notice a difference; it works to thicken hair right from the roots through to the tips.
The tonic comes in a compact bottle, which you’ll be able to throw into a bag for boosting volume while you’re out and about. It’s from a well-respected brand, too: Aveda has been going since 1978, producing everything from skincare, makeup and hair products, with a focus on natural plant extracts.
Key details – Product type: Blow-dry lotion; Quantity: 100ml
12. Bumble and Bumble Thickening Full Form Mousse: Best hair thickening mousse
Price when reviewed: £26 | Check price at John Lewis Use this mousse on damp hair before styling for instant lightweight hold, bounce and shape – minus the nasty stickiness and crunchy feeling that such products can often leave you with once they’ve dried. In fact, it leaves hair feeling surprisingly soft, and promises to keep it hydrated too.
That said, you need only a tiny amount to achieve your look – and for it to last all day. Bumble and Bumble has been a salon favourite for more than 30 years. Follow this mousse with the thickening dry-spun finish spray from the same range to add volume without stickiness or any lingering smells.
Key details – Product type: Mousse; Quantity: 150ml
13. Schwarzkopf Professional OSIS+ Dust It Mattifying Powder: Best hair volumising powder
Price when reviewed: £10 | Check price at Amazon When this little featherlight 10g bottle of Schwarzkopf Professional’s OSIS+ Dust It Mattifying Powder arrived, we were rather sceptical about how exactly it would volumise the hair as it promises. All doubts were immediately allayed when we sprinkled the tiniest amount of it directly onto the hair parting. The best way to describe it is like a backcomb in a bottle. Practically scentless and undetectable, the powder somehow lifts the roots for an incredible volumising effect that will be a godsend for anyone with limp and lifeless hair.
While it doesn’t soften the hair (quite the opposite, it gives it texture that’s rather tough to the touch), it mattifies it and makes it manageable; it’s a little like hairspray in powder form – but with no strong or irritating scent. There are two ways to use this magic little powder: sprinkle it into your hands, rub them together until it turns into a cream-like hair paste, then apply to the roots; or you can sprinkle it directly into the roots. You’ll need to rake your fingers through hair to style, since getting the comb in once you’ve put in the product is quite difficult (and counterintuitive to the whole thickening aim).
Key details – Product type: Volumising powder; Quantity: 10g
14. John Frieda Volume Lift Thickening Mousse: Best budget thickening mousse
Price when reviewed: £6.99 | Check price at Amazon
John Frieda’s Volume Lift mousse is an excellent value thickening mousse for fine hair. The volumising formula contains hydrating vitamin B5 plus caffeine to boost circulation to the scalp; it also uses a proprietary polymer, which the brand calls Air Silk, to lift and separate fine strands of hair, creating temporary fullness and volume.
It’s a lightweight volumising mousse that’s great for putting a bit of oomph into fine hair that feels flat – and at under £10 for 200ml, this vegan-friendly product is great value too.
Key details – Pack size: 200ml