Whenever two people talk about their hair, it’s likely thickness will be part of the conversation. Some people boast about their thick, luscious hair while others are convinced they have record-breaking thin hair. But do any of us know how to actually discover our hair’s thickness? According to Jana Blankenship, the founder of organic skin, body, and hair company Captain Blankenship, it all comes down to your hair follicles. “Look at a patch of your scalp in the mirror. Do you have a lot of hair growing closely together or are fewer hairs growing further apart?” Blankenship asked. “If your hair grows densely, it is thick, if it doesn’t, it is thin.”
And everyone wants what they can’t have. Those with curly hair are constantly straightening their locks with an iron while those with straight hair envy those with wavy manes. If you have thin hair and you’re looking to add some more volume to it, here are six ways to do so.
1. Switch up your shampoo
Most of us have our go-to shampoo and conditioner, but while that may help us cut down time at the drugstore, it’s not doing anything for our hair — especially if you have thin hair. “Just like harsh cleansers dry out our skin, sulfate-based shampoos strip hair of moisture and can leave hair limp and lifeless,” Blankenship said. “Look for gentle shampoos made without sulfates and parabens that won’t dehydrate your hair.”
You may love the smell of that hibiscus mixture, but there’s a chance it’s only emphasizing your hair’s texture — and not in a good way. The next time you’re scouring the pharmacy for a new bottle of shampoo and conditioner, Blankenship recommends buying an option that has ingredients like avocado, nettles, coconut oil, olive oil, and/or honey.
2. Rethink your food
In many ways, you are what you eat. Your diet impacts your skin, energy level, and, yes, even your hair. Vitamins like biotin and zinc are important for healthy hair, but revamping your entire diet is a smart move, too. “Eating lots of spinach, kale, and beans is great for your body and your mane,” said Blankenship. “Protein is also important, as are healthy oils like olive and coconut. And don’t forget to drink water, which hydrates your locks as well as your body.” Once you begin to improve your diet, the rest will likely fall into place.
3. Wash your hair less often
Taking a shower every day may seem like a great way to stay looking fresh, but it can actually wreak havoc on your hair. “Washing hair every day can deplete hair of natural oils, making it more brittle and lifeless,” she said. You don’t want your hair to look sebaceous, but the oils your scalp naturally produce can actually keep your hair looking full and thick. Blankenship recommends washing your hair once or twice a week and using an organic dry shampoo to mask any excess grease.
4. Buy a new hair brush
If you’re still looking to pump up your hair’s volume, you may need to invest in a new brush. According to Blankenship, a plastic bristle brush can lead to breakage, which gives you limp hair. “Use a natural bristle brush instead of plastic that gently detangles hair and evenly distributes oils, improving luster and leading to less breakage,” she said. Speaking of distributing oils, Blankenship also recommends using a scalp treatment to promote circulation and hair growth.
5. Cut down time with hot tools
Using a curling iron on your hair is a way to mimic those vivacious curls you see on your Instagram feed, but there’s a chance using too many tools is doing more harm for your hair than good. Instead of nixing the hot tools altogether, dare to rock your natural texture every now and then. After all, do you really need to straighten your hair for the grocery store?
6. Use salt spray
Who doesn’t want to sport some beachy waves? They give you that fresh-from-vacation coolness and make any outfit look effortlessly chic. Not only does spritzing some sea salt spray help you score those sought-after waves, but they also make your hair look fuller, too. “Sea salt hair spray adds texture and body to hair naturally to give you those just-left-the-beach waves,” Blankenship said. For a salt spray that will leave your hair soft instead of crunchy, she recommends her company’s Mermaid Sea Salt, which is infused with aloe vera gel.
Editor’s Note: This story was originally published December 19, 2016.