How to Get Thicker Hair, According to a Dermatologist

If you want stronger, healthier strands, here are the details on how to make hair thicker.

Hair Health Hotline: Hair Thickness
Photo: Getty Images

Ask a handful of people how they'd like their hair to look or feel, and you'll probably hear "thick," alongside "shiny," "healthy," and similar descriptors. Unfortunately, there isn't a basic playbook for getting hair that's as thick as a diner milkshake.

Strands can become thin for a slew of reasons, which means that an approach to restoring thickness that worked for somebody else won't necessarily make a difference in your unique hair. To help you avoid wasting your time with tips for getting thicker hair that are unlikely to help, Brendan Camp, M.D., a dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology, is sharing the most effective solutions for how to get thicker hair.

Q: "I used to have thick hair, but now it's thinning out. How can I get thicker hair?"

A: Adjusting your lifestyle habits or hair styling practices or seeking out hair loss treatments are the best answers to how to get thicker hair, according to Dr. Camp.

But before you start studying how to get thick hair, it's helpful to get some background on why you might be noticing thinner hair in the first place. Strands of hair grow out of pores in your skin called follicles. Those follicles can become narrower for a variety of reasons, at which point thinner strands start to grow out of that follicle, according to Dr. Camp. (Note, hair volume loss can also result from hair shedding, which refers to the rate at which strands are falling out of your scalp rather than the thickness of individual strands.)

Below, a summary of the most common reasons that people experience decreased hair thickness from Dr. Camp.

  • Androgenetic alopecia, aka male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness, is a condition where hair follicles shrink in size over time until eventually they disappear.
  • Alopecia areata, an autoimmune hair loss condition, causes strands of hair to become progressively more narrow before falling out.
  • Dietary changes can lead to a nutritional deficiency can lead to finer hair strands.
  • Repeatedly wearing tight hairstyles can create damage at the root of hair follicles.
  • Hormonal changes from pregnancy, menopause, or starting a new medication can also result in finer hair.
Hair Health Hotline: Hair Thickness
Courtesy

How to Thicken Hair

The below strategies are typically the most effective routes for those who are wondering how to get thicker hair, according to Dr. Camp. The final word on which interventions will help you may depend on the cause of your hair thinning.

Practice healthy lifestyle habits.

Depending on what your day-to-day habits look like, making a few adjustments to your lifestyle might help you get thicker hair. "As basic as it seems, getting adequate sleep, maintaining a healthy diet, and regular exercise are important to one's overall health and can therefore impact the health of hair, nails, and skin," says Dr. Camp. "A healthy lifestyle is essential to help your body adjust to the effects of stress, which can influence hair growth." All the more reason to download that meditation app and take note of the best foods for hair growth.

Reevaluate your hairstyling routine.

Reminder: decreased hair thickness often stems from always wearing your hair tightly pulled back. It follows that snatched buns and ponytails are best worn in moderation if you're hoping to get thicker hair. Instead, try wearing your hair down or opting for loose braids. Even switching up how you detangle your hair can prove beneficial. "Consider brushing from [the] 'bottom, up,' meaning start at the ends of your hair and move toward the root," says Dr. Camp. "This gentler approach to brushing limits tension on the root of the follicle."

On a related note, "thickening" hair products won't actually increase the diameter of your hair follicle, and have more of a cosmetic benefit, according to Dr. Camp. "Products that promote thicker hair work by flaring the cuticles [scale-like structures on the outermost layer of hair strands], giving the impression of thicker hair strands," he says. "While they do not actually make the hair thicker, they can give the impression that hair strands are fuller and more voluminous."

Consider a hair loss treatment.

Various hair loss treatments can be helpful depending on whether you're concerned with getting thicker hair, reducing shedding, or both. The results of these treatments will probably be more dramatic for those who are dealing with noticeable hair loss or thinning. That said, even if you haven't been experiencing major hair thinning, you may still notice an improvement if you haven't already optimized your hair-care routine, says Dr. Camp. "For example, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatments can help patients with alopecia and those without hair loss by fortifying hair follicles on the scalp by stimulating blood flow and flooding follicles with growth factors," he says. Additional treatments that can be effective for getting thicker hair include prescription treatments such as spironolactone and minoxidil, over-the-counter treatments such as Rogaine, and low-level light therapy (LLLT) caps, says Dr. Camp.

You're certainly not alone in your aspiration for thicker hair — or in your uncertainty about which tips and tricks are actually worth trying. When in doubt, visit a dermatologist or hair loss specialist who can help you ID the root cause (get it?) of your hair thinning and give you personalized hair growth suggestions.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles