8 Ways to Fix Flat Hair and Maintain Volume Year Round

For many people, having voluminous hair in summer is rarely an issue—in fact, the humidity it brings can make things too voluminous. But for fine-haired folks, it can be a year-round strain to achieve volume and definition, especially in the cold, dry months. That’s when having flat hair is a matter of concern: the winter air strips your strands of all their moisture, and in turn of all liveliness and body.

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    “Cold and dry air can cause the cuticle of the hair strand to lift ever so slightly, thus drying out the strand,” says celebrity groomer Jessica Ortiz. “Dropping temperatures, lack of humidity, and adding more heat when styling, or hot water while showering, can make your hair even more dehydrated and prone to breakage than in the warmer months.” (Not to mention the dread of having flattened, greasy hat hair every time you return inside.)

    With this in mind, you can work backwards to build a regimen that prevents such damage and dehydration, which in turn boosts moisture when you need it most. For tips on the topic, we sought the wisdom of Devin Toth, a stylist at Salon SCK in NYC, along with Ortiz, who preps A-listers for red carpets and photo shoots alike (including Andrew Garfield, Regé-Jean Page, and Joshua Jackson). Here is their advice on combating flat hair.

    How to prevent flat hair

    1. Get the right blow dryer, then angle hair out

    While a blow dryer can dehydrate your hair, you can get around this by choosing an ionic and ceramic dryer, which will safely dry the hairs without opening the hair cuticle and parching your strands. Second, apply  a heat protectant prior to drying, in order to coat the cuticles with a lightweight shield. That’s when you can get to work and fight gravity with your blow dryer. 

    When blow drying for volume, keep in mind that you don’t want to point the cannon of the dryer right at your scalp, thus pressing your hair down as it dries. Lean to the side or bend over and blow dry downwards. “This utilizes gravity and the heat from your blow dryer to over direct hair and help maximize volume,” she says. If you’re bent over, you can even help give hair a lift at the roots by drying it against its natural fall. 

    Ortiz has another tip for finishing the job right: “Once your hair is 80% to 90% dry, use a round brush to assist in setting your style.” This helps lift the roots directly as you dry everything to a voluminous completion.

    How to blowdry hair 

    2. Deploy dry shampoo

    A sprinkle of dry shampoo soaks up any sebum buildup at the roots of your hairs, and delivers an instant lift. It’s not something you want to do daily, however, but is an effective way to get a little lift between wash days. “Consider applying dry shampoo the night before and sleeping on it,” Ortiz says. “It will absorb sweat and sebum overnight so you wake up with hair that’s ready to go.”

    3. Add layers to your hair

    “The day the humidity drops for good is the day my clients start needing a lot more layers,” says Toth. If you have uniform length with fine hair, then it will make your strands appear limp and flat. Conversely, have your stylist give you long layers, which can take some of the weight out of your hair and add movement. This in turn perks up hair at the root and makes it look bouncier. The key is to keep layers away from the roots and ends, which can make hair appear choppy and straggly.

    4. Use volume-building haircare products

    Are your hair care ingredients working against your best interests? Make sure your formula promises volume and definition if you’re prone to seasonal or permanent flat hair. One of the best ways to get volume is through leave-in conditioners or pre-shampoo scalp masks, specifically if they include ingredients like clay, corn starch, or polyquats. “A scalp mask strips off dead skin cells and toxins deposited on the scalp while also removing excess oils and leaving hair lighter and less flat,” Ortiz notes.

    Why you need a scalp mask

    5. Play with color

    Try using hair color, specifically highlights, to create the illusion of volume at the crown, Toth suggests. A light shade placed close to your scalp makes your root area appear fuller and lifted (the opposite is true for dark hair colors). Plus, “the chemical process of lightening hair adds texture and volume,” says Toth. It’s one case where a little damage is good for your hair’s texture. (But we don’t recommend this route as a first resort!)

    6. Part ways with your hair’s natural part

    You likely have a natural part in your hair. (Some people lack it, but most people have one.) Consider how your hair all falls in place because of this part, and then consider what happens when you counter the natural direction of it all, and force the hair against the grain: More volume! “This technique is easy and can make a huge difference not just by improving volume, but it can also completely change your look, and even better flatter your face shape,” Ortiz says. 

    Here is her advice to achieve it best: “While your hair is wet, comb it back away from your face with a wide-toothed comb. Then gently push the hair on top of your head forward, towards your forehead using just your hand, and let go. The hair should split where your natural part is. Once you know that, I like to move the part over slightly (away from the center) and create a zig-zagged or curved part to make the new look more modern and less flat.”

     7. Try a curling iron

    Both of our experts suggest using a curling iron for more volume, but each in a different way. “A large curling iron or wand can be used underneath the roots of the crown, to just hit with heat for a little lift,” Ortiz says. 

    “For the most natural-looking body, wrap your strands around the barrel instead of using the clamp, which condenses your hair and flattens the curl,” Toth explains. “Wrapping your hair around the tong creates texture and allows the hair shaft to expand a little.

    8. Accessorize strategically

    A barrette or headband not only adds color to your hair, but can also make strands appear more lifted at the root, says Toth. We know, it sounds counterintuitive because hair clips and headbands are made to flatten hair to your head, but hear him out: Toth explains that the trick is to push your hair up and forward and then place the accessory in front of it to lock in your style. Plus, sometimes flattening the front of your hair allows the lifted back half to stand taller.

    Wrap up

    A drop in temperature and humidity levels does not mean you’re doomed to have flat hair. Thanks to Ortiz and Toth, you’re now equipped with nine different ways to pump up the volume on your strands and banish flat hair for good.

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