How to get volume in hair UK

How to get volume in hair: Discover why your hair looks limp and flat and what to do about it

20th March 2022 | Author: Katherine O'Shea

Having bouncy, volumised hair is a holy grail. Hair volume is seen as a sign of youth. It can enhance your face shape, help hide areas that are thinning, and add movement to your style. Yet for many, such hair volume eludes us.

Maybe you’ve always lacked volume, or having a baby has caused you to lose hair, or made it thinner. Whatever the cause, we’re here to help!

Click the links below to jump to the relevant section, or scroll down to read the article in full:

Hair volume

Hair volume all starts with your roots and how you look after them. The way your hair grows out of the follicle affects everything that follows. Therefore looking after your scalp and hair roots will mean the new hair growing through will be as thick as possible. Thus, treating your scalp is the first step towards improved hair volume.

We’ve got advice on how to take care of your scalp in our How to manage hair loss and make hair grow faster and Best scalp tonics guides.

Once you’ve ensured your hair is growing out from your scalp as healthy as possible, you’re going to want to use products and styling methods to add volume. To start with you’re going to want to look for products labelled as, ‘volumising’ or, ‘adds body.’ They will be specifically designed to add body and volume to your hair.

However, with so many to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start. This is where we come in.

FURTHER READING: What type of hair do I have? Find out with our hair types guide

What causes your hair to be limp and flat?

How to add volume to hairShutterstock

“Hair is a mirror of inner health and wellbeing. It also exudes sexual energy through its fullness, lustre, movement and vitality,” renowned hairdresser Michael Van Clarke told mamabella. “This clearly isn’t achieved simply by making hair bigger, and it’s why large backcombed and lacquered helmets of hair aren’t very sexy or attractive. They lack the movement or the sense that the hair can move, even if illusory.”

Genetics play a big part, he continued but “if you are generally fit, a non-smoker, have a well-balanced diet, you are not going to get better hair than that coming out of your scalp.” How quickly this hair dries, looks flat and disintegrates info limp lifeless hair is very much then dependent on your hair care routine and lifestyle.

Below we explain some of the key causes of limp, flat hair, how to get volume in hair, and what to avoid.


Your hair can lose volume if it’s dehydrated. The hair shaft is made up of 97% proteins, which provide strength and structure, and 3% water, which gives your hair flexibility and shine. Without the water, the hair shaft becomes brittle and fragile, leading to a loss of protein structure and thinner hair strands. This is caused by heat damage as well as using products that strip the hair of moisture like SLS.


Ageing can also play a significant role in your hair looking limper. The diameter of our hair follicles gets thinner as we get older. This means that even though there is still the same number of strands, they fill less space. The thinner hair is also more prone to breakages and the combination of hair growth slowing the older you get, the less fuller your locks look.

Excess oil

Another cause of flat, thin hair is hair grease. This can make your hair appear flatter. Natural oils, dirt and humidity all weigh down your hair, making it lacklustre. Using too much of a product can also have the same result.


If you leave your hair to dry naturally then it’s likely the weight from the water in your hair is going to pull your roots downwards. Instead, you should try to clip your hair up or use a silk scrunchie – an elastic band will leave dents – to put it in a top bun if you like to air dry your hair.

How to get volume in hair

There are a number of simple ways to get volume in hair, here are a selection of our tried-and-tested methods.

Click the links below to jump to the specific sections:

Change your blow-drying technique

Revlon One Step hair dryer review before and aftermamabella

Blow drying your hair after washing is a great opportunity to get volume in your hair. “Before using a dryer and brush to style the hair, it’s best to take out about 75% of the water,” added Van Clarke. “Do not blast dry the hair direct with a bare dryer, or even worse a nozzle, as this will kill the natural body.”

Instead, he suggests the best way to blow-dry to add volume is to use a round brush and pull the roots up as you dry.

If you’re not particularly well-skilled at blow-drying (we’re not!), we highly recommend the Revlon One-Step dryer. It helps lift the roots, smooth the cuticles and – as you can read in our Revlon One-Step Dryer and Volumiser review – adds bounce and volume in ways we’ve only ever experienced from heated rollers.

Balayage hair colour for more volume in hairShutterstock

Get your hair cut

Another way to give your hair more body and volume is to have a couple of inches cut off. This will instantly add thickness. Having layers cut in can also help unless you have very fine hair, where a one-length cut makes it look its thickest.

Opt for a balayage colour

You can also use hair colouring and highlights to make your hair appear more voluminous. For example, having highlights in a balayage style can be used to create the illusion of more body.


If you want to improve the health of your hair from the inside out, try eating more iron-rich foods.

This includes shellfish, liver, pomegranate, dried figs and leafy vegetables. There’s also the option of hair supplements to boost any nutrient deficiency you may have that’s impacting your hair growth.

You can find out more about the beauty benefits of food in our skin food guide.

Hair volume: What should I avoid?

Conditioner (on your roots)

You might be surprised to know that using conditioner after shampooing could be contributing to your hair looking flatter and thinner.

This is because conditioner can leave a heavy residue and when you’re trying to boost your hair volume, you don’t want anything on your hair that can weigh it down. Of course, conditioner has the benefits of moisturising your hair, so we recommend only using it on the ends of your hair.

If your hair is short or tends to get oily, then you may be able to skip conditioner altogether.


Van Clarke recommends avoiding silicone in products if you’re looking for ways to boost hair volume. He told mamabella that “cheap harsh cleansers strip the hair, leaving it vulnerable.”

He also said you should use conditioners containing ingredients that genuinely help to rebuild and protect your hair, such as cannabis sativa seed oil, almond oil, or jojoba oil.

Alcohol (on your hair)

You’ll also want to avoid using products that have high alcohol content. The alcohol in some hair products can lead to your hair being dry, brittle or frizzy.

Hair volume products

how to add volume to hairShutterstock

Detoxify your hair

In terms of hair volumising products, try to use sulphate-free products. The less harsh chemicals you use on your hair, the better. We also recommend using a detoxifying hair mask once a week. This will expel toxins, as well as promote blood supply to the follicle to initiate a proper flow of nutrients to the roots.

mamabella recommends: John Frieda Detox & Repair Masque (£7.99); Philip Kingsley Vitamin C Jelly Detoxifying Hair & Scalp Treatment (£28)

Volumising mousse

A volumising mouse to lift your roots is a great way to boost the height of your hair at the root level and give it texture and body.

Years ago, mousse would have made your hair sticky or feel crunchy, but things have definitely changed for the better.

Now you’ll find they regularly contain nourishing ingredients and some claim to stimulate hair growth. A volumising mouse can really help limit hair frizz and give you more defined waves and curls.

mamabella recommends: Charles Worthington Thicker & Fuller Densifying Mousse (£7.99); Philip Kingsley Volumising Froth Root Lift Mousse (£22)

Volumising shampoo

Cheap Grow Gorgeous productsGrow Gorgeous

Although a volumising shampoo can’t alter the chemical structure of your hair, it will instead add lift by temporarily plumping up the strands.

Volumising shampoos contain ingredients that lift the hair away from the head, giving a look of weightlessness. You want to look for volumising shampoos that contain polymers because they coat the hair fibre, adding the stiffness and that lift.

Volumising shampoos can also help make your hair appear thicker and fuller because they contain less conditioning ingredients, so they’re less likely to weigh your hair down which can make it look flatter.

mamabella recommends: Grow Gorgeous Intense Thickening Shampoo (£16); Kérastase Densifique Bain Densite (£22.40)

Dry shampoo

If your hair looks limp and flat the day or so after you’ve washed it then you can use dry hair shampoo to boost its volume.

Dry shampoo will help by drying out any oil. However, you need to make sure you don’t overuse it because product build-up can mean your hair breaks more easily, or is weighed down, which is not what you want.

This is where introducing a detoxifying hair mask into your regular routine will help.

FURTHER READING: Best dry shampoo UK: How to use dry shampoo like the pros

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