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The Ultimate Product Guide for Fine Hair

July 6, 2021

5 Min read

Having naturally fine hair (or even gradual thinning) requires many of the same products as any other hair type, but one element is particularly different: the ingredients. What works on thick, wiry, or super textured hair won’t always provide the same benefits to fine hair. Instead, these products might weigh down thinner/finer hair, and make it look frumpy or greasy. 

With fine hair, the goal is to tame strays, maximize fullness, and sometimes increase volume and texture. You want to minimize breakage and frizzing, no matter the length of your hair. All without weighing it down. For insight on the best products and ingredients you can seek out for fine hair, we spoke with Melissa DeZarate, celebrity groomer in NYC and LA. Her clients include Henry Golding, Joe Jonas, and Trevor Noah, so she’s got all the intel for getting your hair red carpet-ready (or business lunch-ready, or date-night ready, or…), no matter your gender expression or hair length.

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Hair oil is known for its smoothing, fortifying, and lustrous abilities, but fine hair requires a specific type of oil, says DeZarate. “If you’re using a true oil, look for the more lightweight versions that have almond or grapeseed oil as the carrier, as opposed to castor or olive, which are both incredibly nourishing, but very heavy and will weigh your hair down.” And be sure to apply from mid-lengths to ends, avoiding the roots.

Find a shampoo that boosts volume or adds texture, but without stripping all the moisture from your precious strands. (Low-grade shampoos will add volume by parching your hair entirely, and that’s extremely unnecessary.) “Volumizing or thickening shampoos add extra body and bounce to your hair, giving the illusion of more hair,” DeZarate says. “Shampoos like this also make your blowouts last longer.” Look for ingredients like carob seed extract to boost volume and density. Secondly, every shampoo should be followed by a conditioner, so it’s equally important that your conditioner serves the same end goal.

Again, the conditioner should also support volume, texture, and fullness, with key ingredients like silk proteins and camelina oil. These formulas are lightweight enough to penetrate the hair and deliver nourishment, without weighing strands down. “Fine hair has the tendency to fall flat and look limp if you’re using products that are too heavy,” DeZarate says. “In general when looking for products, choose one with real ingredients as opposed to fillers that are masking the problem instead of helping to solve real hair issues.”

Since you won’t be showering daily—and since you might still accumulate some sebum at the root of your hairs, on the scalp—then you ought to get acquainted with dry shampoos. They’ll soak up the excess grease while giving your hair a volumizing, texturizing lift, right there at the base of the shaft. “Dry shampoos are going to be your best friend,” DeZarate echoes. “One of the best tricks I’ve learned is to apply it at night before bed, your hair will wake up fresher and the powder will already be absorbed.” However, it’s best not to use dry shampoo daily; save it for the non-shampoo days when your hair needs extra oomph. Then wash it out on the following day or night.

In addition to looking for a lightweight leave-in conditioner, DeZarate suggests finding one in a spray bottle, for uniform, ultra-light distribution. “It will hydrate without weighing your hair down, or leaving it looking flat,” she says. This deep-nourishing treatment can be done following a shampoo, and can even help smooth hair and tame flyaways.

“A healthy scalp is actually even more important than healthy strands,” DeZarate says. That’s because all of your hair sprouts up from the scalp, and the scalp’s own health often dictates the quality of your hair. A scalp mask can be a good once-weekly reset and harmonizer, by toning sebum production, neutralizing bacteria and fungus, and pumping hair-strengthening nourishment into the scalp (and thus, into the follicles).

Fine hair needs all the fortification it can get, in order to prevent breakage and fallout. A well-studied hair supplement can pump the right nutrients into each follicle, mitigate sebum production, boost density, minimize shedding, and/or can help supercharge the scalp to prevent added thinning or deterioration. Learn more about Prose’s customizable Root Source™ hair and scalp supplements here*.

8. Texturizing stylers

Fine hair demands specific hair styling products, too, though your hair’s length also factors into which product you choose. For short hair, DeZarate says to use texturizing pastes or clays. “They’re more matte in appearance and will give your hair a fuller look. Shinier products will typically make your hair look flat and a bit greasy, so these products should be used for thicker hair that can hold that type of product.” Conversely, in longer styles, texturizing/salt sprays are great, “especially on freshly washed hair, to pump up the volume and body. It really helps make your hair look doubled in density with very little effort,” she says. People with fine curly hair will want to stick with leave-in conditioners (or in particular, lightweight curl creams) to pump proteins and moisture into their hairs without weighing everything down.

Styling and caring for fine hair can be tricky, but not impossible. It’s all about striking the right balance between nourishing yet lightweight products. Once you hit those two marks you’re on your way to a good hair day.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adam Hurly has been writing about grooming since 2013. His work has appeared in GQ, Esquire, Men’s Journal, Bloomberg, and more. He is a South Dakota USA native but now resides in Berlin, Germany.

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