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Help for thinning hair

Adrienne Wyper / 22 December 2016

How to fight the limp, floppy look that often affects fine hair.

An older lady brushes her hair

Thinning hair doesn’t mean, as many people think, that there are fewer hairs growing on your head. Rather it means that the thickness of each individual hair is getting thinner.

As we get older, our hair follicles produce finer hairs. Hair experts Philip Kingsley explain: Nobody over 40 has the same volume of hair they had in their 20s, but menopause is an extra and accelerating cause. The pattern of menopausal hair thinning is similar to the early stages of male pattern hair loss.

Of course, you can suffer from both thinning hair and hair loss at the same time, and if each of your hairs is thinner, the overall effect is that your hair appears to have less volume and body.

However, don’t despair – there are shampoos and products that can help.

Thinning hair? Discover these ways to prevent hair loss

Thickening shampoo and conditioner

As a general rule, you should buy shampoo formulated for fine hair, which will help. However, there are shampoos containing ingredients that have more of a thickening effect. Look for products containing proteins, as these coat the outer surface of the hair, adding extra thickness, and can also strengthen it.

Product build-up can leave hair weighed down, making it look lank and floppy. To combat this, use a clarifying shampoo every so often.

Kérastase Résistance Volumifique Bain and Gelee (shampoo, 250ml, and conditioner, 200ml, £28.40 for both, Look Fantastic) are designed to give your hair maximum thickness, volume and texture, plus shine.

Best-selling Body Building Shampoo from Philip Kingsley (250ml, £18, ) contains keratin (the same substance as your hair) and cellulose to strengthen hair and leave it fuller, shinier and thicker.

Korres Rice Proteins Shampoo (250ml, £9.99, ) the rice proteins increase hair’s density and elasticity, for natural volume. The linden extract leaves a protective sheen on the hair, improving its appearance.

Using the same technology as the silica gel used to fix damaged car windscreens is Filloxane, a compound found in L’Oréal Elvive Fibrology Shampoo and Conditioner (400ml, £2.99, Boots), which thickens the hair by penetrating it and creating strength and rigidity from within.

Nanogen Thickening Hair Treatment Shampoo for Women (240ml, £7.95, Nanogen ) gives visibly thicker and healthier hair from the very first wash. It contains patented Nanogen growth factors to encourage hair growth, plus redensifying peptides for thickness. Its cleansing power comes from salicylic acid, and beta-glucan, aloe and chamomile help soothe your scalp.

If you already have a favourite shampoo, and prefer natural ingredients, how about Aveda Invati Thickening Conditioner (200ml, £24.50, Aveda) with clinically proven ingredients including arginine from sugar beet and soya protein to boost strength and elasticity? Guar, palm and grapeseed extracts thicken hair, with kukui nut oil to add shine.

Ten foods to boost thinning hair

Styling products

There are two main options: one to give individual hairs the appearance of being thicker, and those that maximise volume, root lift and bounce, as well as holding your chosen style. Use them on their own, or in conjunction with the specialised shampoos/conditioners above.

Wield your hairdryer to add root lift and body. To add volume, the official Philip Kingsley advice is to turn your hair upside-down as you finish. Bend over and let your hair hang down towards the floor. Gently brush or comb your hair in this direction with the hairdryer following behind. This will give your hair more lift and bounce. When your hair is dry, style as normal.

The best formulation for a styling product for thinning hair is mousse: light and aerated, it lifts and holds without weighing hair down.

In a pump-action non-aerosol dispenser, is Philip Kingsley Weatherproof Styling Froth (150ml, £17.50) with pro-vitamin B5 to plump up the hair shaft and add moisture, plus aloe vera extract to nourish, and modified corn starch for hold.

Named for the bouffant hairdo allegedly created for Marie Antoinette to help her fine hair look bigger, Bouffe Hair Thickening Spray comes in five shades (200ml, £5.99, Boots) to mist on to dry hair to boost roots and maximise volume with a silica formula that adds texture.

In 10 colours, Nanogen Keratin Hair Fibres (15g, one month’s supply, £18.95, Nanogen ) bind to your own hair electrostatically. Shake them out of the container on to your hair, and blend in with your fingertips. For added security, you can use Hair Fibre Locking Spray (100ml, £11.95). To remove, shampoo as normal.

And dry shampoos and volumising sprays are ideal for a quick fix. Spray Percy & Reed Big Bold & Beautiful Dry Instant Volumising Spray (200ml, £14, John Lewis) at the roots of sections of dry hair to add body, bounce and volume. Launched over 40 years ago, Batiste Dry Shampoo Original is a classic. Its primary purpose is to absorb grease, but in the process its rice starch component adds bulk to think hair (200ml, £1.48, Superdrug).

All links and prices were correct at the time of publishing but may have changed in the time elapsed. If you spot an out-of-date price, email and we'll update the article accordingly.

Next article: Should you say goodbye to the shampoo bottle?  >>>


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.