The Clever Trick To Get Fuller-Looking Hair

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images.
Thanks to a nearly universal desire for thicker, fuller hair, there are no shortage of options that promise to maximize your strands. There are vitamin blends created to correct nutritional deficits inhibiting your hair’s growth capacity, scalp treatments that aim to make follicles strong and healthy, and products that temporarily thicken each strand — and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

But, in the quest for fuller hair, there’s one option that’s chronically overlooked: your hair color. And guess what? It plays a huge role in how full (or fine) your hair looks. “When the eye sees numerous shades of hair. it automatically associates more hair,” Chelsea Belushi, colorist at L.A.’s Mèche Salon, explains. On the flip side, “all-one-color and ombré, although beautiful, can make hair appear thinner,” she says. Translation: Dimension, as you may assume, is the key to making hair appear fuller, but it’s where you apply the shades that has the greatest impact.

What To Ask For

For those with fine, straight to wavy hair, Belushi suggests asking for a “halo effect,” where a subtle, layer of darker color wraps around the head horizontally, an inch or two below the part. (Think of where a small crown would hit your hair; that’s where the darker layer should be created.) “The contrast of the lowlights, especially when you put highlights on top of it, helps to build fulness,” she says.

Ombré, although beautiful, can make hair appear thinner,

Hairstylist Chelsea Belushi
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We also broached this topic with Shai Amiel of Capella Salon, one of our go-to experts for curly hair. For fine ringlets, the optimal technique is a bit different. “I’m a big fan of adding random pieces that are a bit lighter than the overall color of the hair,” he says. “Adding a few more colors gives the illusion of more hair, or thicker hair.” He hand-paints individual ringlets (full ringlets, not just chunks or pieces) and suggests keeping the highlights within two or three shades of your overall hair color, to ensure the look is soft and natural-appearing.

Feeling hesitant about asking for these advanced techniques? There’s a foolproof style that works for every texture: baby lights. “It can really help to bring in that thickness,” Belushi says. Anywhere from half a shade to three shades lighter will immediately build tons of volume throughout hair. Bonus points if your colorist can weave two different shades into hair or bring the mid-lengths and ends a shade lighter than the rest of the hair, which will draw the eye to the fullness of the length, and not the scalp — which is a dead giveaway for fine hair, it turns out.

Another area that Belushi pays close attention to is, you guessed it, the scalp. “If you have thin hair and a pale scalp, the contrast between your hair and your skin will be greater, which can make hair look thin.” To combat this, Belushi keeps her client's base color as close to the scalp as she can, while still landing in the shade they want, even if it's subtle. For example: “I keep my brunette shades a little lighter if my client has thin hair,” she explains. "Which makes the hair look a bit fuller.”

Adding a few more colors gives the illusion of more hair

Hairstylist Shai Amiel
What To Avoid
Anything that falls on the two ends of the color spectrum should be avoided if fuller-looking locks are your focus. That means all-one-color, whether platinum, black, or anywhere in between, should be avoided. The same goes for dip-dye and ombré shades. Since the focus on these styles is the contrast between the dark roots and light ends, it can draw attention to both the scalp and dimensionless tips. Fret not if you love the surfer look. Simply go for a very soft version of ombré, or else sombré, or for lived-in color.
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