Fine hair: what to do?


For most of us, hair is not only associated with youthfulness and beauty – the way it looks and behaves can have a profound effect on how we feel about ourselves and can sometimes represent a deep-rooted part of our personal identity and culture1.

To give hair the best care and make the most out of styling, it can be helpful to know our hair type. After years of styling and caring for your own hair you may already know how thick your hair is, but could you be missing something? If you find it difficult to find products that work every time or find styling unpredictable, you could benefit from looking at the full picture when it comes to hair type.

The amount of hair on your head, can be attributed to two main factors; strand thickness and hair density. We tend to talk about these factors interchangeably, but knowing how to tell the difference between them could be the key to understanding how our hair behaves, what it needs, and how to style it for best results2,3. It is also important to realise that our hair type is not a fixed trait that we own, but can change over time due to ageing and other lifestyle factors4.

If, however, you think there is a medical reason that your hair is thin or fine, consulting a doctor or expert is a must. They will be able to advise you on your particular situation and off personalised treatments.


So how do we determine the thickness of our hair?

The first measure is related to the thickness of our hair strands. Our individual strands could be fine, coarse or somewhere in between, and are not connected to the overall amount of hair we may have on our head.

The second measure is hair density. When we say hair density, we are referring to the number of hairs on the head, regardless of whether the individual strands are fine, medium or coarse.

So, one could define themselves as having fine or thin hair when they have a high density of fine hairs, a low density of course hairs, or even a low density of fine hairs.

The only way to accurately determine strand thickness and hair density is by using specially devised methods and techniques that require expert equipment in a lab setting, for example5. Of course, it would be a rare for us to have access to these at home, so the next best thing would be to find a good hairdresser who will be able to do a visual and tactile assessment of your head, and give a good indication of both these measures.

So once you know your hair density and strand thickness, let’s look at what can help encourage thicker, fuller-looking hair


How to make fine hair strands thicker

The reality is that there is little we can do to permanently change the diameter of individual hair strands. Thickening products are advertised as temporarily plumping hair strands, but since naturally occurring fine hair strands are part of our genetic make-up they can't be changed. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some key factors to learn to get the best from our hair.

Regularly massage your scalp

Massaging the scalp stimulates the flow of blood to the hair follicles, and could result in thicker hair strands. A small study has found that after 24 weeks of daily scalp massage, participants found the diameter of individual strands had increased6. Consider using coconut oil or a conditioner to lubricate the hair strands in your hand and, avoid unnecessarily pulling hair strands out.  Before doing so, make sure you are not allergic to any of these before applying the product to your hair or scalp.  To be sure, consider doing a patch test, before application.

Take care with styling and treatments

Thinner hair strands might not be due to the follicle producing thinner strands – we may already possess the thicker strands we want in that first few inches near the scalp. Instead, our thinner strands could be down to damage that may be occurring further along the strand. Chemical damage by bleaches, dyes, straighteners and even sunlight can weaken hair and not only reduce hair diameter due to strands that are no longer able to absorb moisture, but also increase split ends, which may make strands appear finer7,8

Try severely reducing these styling practises and opt for natural styles to allow thicker, healthier strands to grow out.


How to increase hair density

Much like thinner strands, the number of hairs that naturally grow on our heads is genetic9 so there is very little we can do to suddenly grow new follicles for a thicker hair of hair. In fact, the number of hair follicles we will have is already established when we are in the womb, and we won’t grow any new ones after we are born10. That said, there are some practises that can cause excess hair shedding which we should know about


Let hair be loose and free

Consistently wearing hair in tight styles, such as ponytails, braids and even hair extensions, can have a negative effect on our scalp over time. Styles and practises that pull the hair taut put a strain on hair follicles and can eventually cause hair to fall out11.

The good news is that effect is preventable. If you can, try to avoid tight styles that pull on hair follicles and embrace looser styles and even letting hair fall naturally.

Learn of to effectively manage stress

Like many processes in the body, the hair growth cycle is sensitive to stress. If we are letting things get on top of us for a prolonged period of time, this can start to affect our hair growth cycle. An animal study suggests that even mild stress over a number of weeks appears to reduce hair growth by extending the telogen (resting) phase of hair growth, which can make hair shed more easily12,13 

Dealing with the source of stress and/or finding healthy ways to cope with it, will likely return our follicles to normal growth cycles11. If you think you need some extra support, it is important to seek advice from a doctor. 


Finally, support hair follicles from within

Ensuring we follow a well-balanced, varied diet will not only safeguard our general health, but will also inevitably support a healthy head of hair. In fact, not getting enough nutrients may impact both hair structure and growth, so this simple step should be a priority14,15. Nutrients such as 16, 17 and 18 contribute to healthy and natural hair growth. Some may enjoy the convenience of supporting a healthy diet with a beauty supplement such as enriched with biotin, 6 specially selected minerals and CELLENIUMTM an antioxidant of natural origin, to renew your cells from the inside for healthy hair, skin and nails.