For as long as I can remember I haven’t had a lot of hair. I’ve mostly always had it long, but it’s always been very thin. I have that baby fine, slippery type of thin hair that’s hated among those who – like me – are unlucky enough to suffer from it. I know what you thick haired girls are thinking here though – ‘I wish my hair was thin’. We always seem to want what we don’t have. But for those lucky girls, this post will hopefully enlighten you to the dark world that we thin-haired girls live in, so read on and sympathise. For my sisters out there though, this is for you.
Historically and presently, hair symbolises sexuality, feminity, beauty and youth. Hair is a form of art, expression and style. It says a lot about you. The rise in social media has exponentially increased the emphasis on our hair so is it any wonder that we are constantly pressured to have beautiful hair and that we get a little down that it’s not what we want it to be? No it’s not, and I’m someone among many thousands of females – and males – who has suffered disconnection with their hair image.
I wanted to write this post to speak about some of the struggles of girls with thin hair, but I’m also going to stick in a few advantages of having thin hair (I emphasise the word ‘few’). Finally, I’ll share a few tips and products that I use to cope with my thin hair woes.
Quick disclaimer: I’m not a hair expert nor a trichologist. These are just some of the battles I face with my thin hair, and the ways I’m learning to cope with it. Please share any other stories and tips by leaving a comment!
Skip the shampoo? Puh-lease!
Thin hair tends to get oily fast. A hell of a lot faster than those with thicker hair. Why? Because there is simply just not enough of it to sop up the amount of sebum that our scalps produce. That’s why you’ll find that most people who complain about having really oily hair are often those with thin hair. They pretty much are a 2-for-1 deal. Thicker-haired girls however, have much more hair to not only absorb the oil, but to HIDE the oil. Oil starts become noticeable even after a few HOURS post-wash for us thin haired girls. I know you hear me 😦
Flat, limp, ‘drowned-rat’ type of hair.
Another attendee to the thin-hair party is the non-existent volume. Thin-haired girls like me have literally zero volume. Like ‘hair-glued-to-the-scalp’ volume. Thicker haired girls though have hair shafts that are thicker, and they have more hairs that are able to layer on top of each other to build up a beautiful silhouette of hair volume. We, however, are forced into teasing hair, using gritty volumising hair products that make our hair feel dirty and gross, and my personal favourite – we are often told to get extensions to build volume in our hair. Which I did, and loved the extra volume and the illusion of more hair. Until I realised I didn’t actually have enough of my own hair to effectively cover and hide the extensions. The result? Blatantly obvious Frankenstein hair.
Instagram-worthy hair is unrealistic and unachievable.
Instagram is riddled with thousands of beautiful hair styles that we thin-haired girls scroll through with undying desire and heartbreak. We take a lot of inspiration in appearance from social media these days, but those tousled waves and romantic curly updos are just unrealistic for us because we don’t have enough hair to recreate those. Curls fall out of hair within minutes – and yes we use hair spray don’t you worry, it still doesn’t work – and updos go limp and will slip out in half a day. Messy buns and messy braids? Girl, please.
There are also people who will go so far as to tell you that if you have thin hair, you shouldn’t have LONG hair. Their reason? Because long, thin hair looks ‘ratty’ and unkempt. Probably true, but it doesn’t hurt any less. I do have long hair, because I WANT long hair, and I don’t think that’s wrong. I have a very long thin face, so long hair is an essential. Short hair just makes me look like a horse. I make it work the best I can.
I’ll give you an example of my styling restrictions. This story is probably the first time I became aware of my disappointingly thin hair. For my Year 12 formal, I had my heart set on a cascading romantic hair style with 3 rows of braids going up one side of my head. I took in the photo and showed her my inspiration and she got to work. I started to notice her becoming increasingly frustrated and redoing the braids over and over. Until she finally said, “I cannot do this hairstyle with your type of hair. You don’t have enough hair and it looks too ‘scalpy’. It won’t look nice.” Heart = broken. That’s literally what she said, I remember it as if it was yesterday. Instead, she did a simple singular braid going into curls. I payed over $70 for that hair (which is a lot for a poor high schooler), I wasn’t happy with it and got home to my Mum telling me she could have done that for free in 15 mins. Safe to say my hair confidence was pretty shattered since then.
Losing hair is a natural cycle but rips away at our soul
Washing and brushing our hair should be a simple, emotionally painful-free process right? Wrong. Our scalp loses about 100 strands of hair a day – it’s a natural process. But it’s something that makes us thin-haired girls really anxious. The clumps of hair that gather in the drain when we wash our hair are a physical representation of chunks of our soul washing away. The strands of hair that get caught in our hair brushes are a constant reminder of the hair we CANNOT afford to lose. We seem to multiply the loss of our hair because we are more aware of it and know we can’t afford to lose any of it. We want to take every strand of hair we lose and somehow glue it back to our scalps.
The other downside is that because our hair shafts are so much thinner than those with thick hair, they are more prone to damage. Split ends are much more easily had in thin hair than in thick, because thicker shafts are more structurally robust.
We avoid tangles like the plague
Thin hair out on a windy day is the epitome of a bad hair day. Because our hair is so thin and we don’t have much of it, it’s so easily taken away by the wind. Not only that, but it’s a hell of a lot more susceptible to tangles. And when our ponytails measure 2cm diameter, again we can’t afford to lose any strands. Static and wind, both major contributors to tangles, are the nemeses of thin hair. Teasing combs and hairspray – our necessities – can cause more harm than good, especially when it comes to brushing them out.
Of course, we can use the age-old trick of slathering on conditioner to help get the tangles out. But those tangle-eliminating formulas are often the most ‘heaviest’ and will just weigh down our hair making it even more flat and limp, cancelling any life and movement you had in your hair.
Surely there are some good things about having thin hair?
Yes, there are. But this list is damn well shorter than the cons.
Often, you’ll hear girls with thick hair complain about washing their hair because of how long it takes to dry, both naturally and by blow-drying. This is where we come out on top, because we have so little hair it takes a fraction of the time to dry our hair than it does for girls with more hair. It’s no biggie, but it’s a little solace we are able to claim.
Another time advantage we have is in regards to hair styling. Again, it takes considerably less time to straighten or curl our hair because of how little hair we have. Not only that but we can use a lot less product to tame our tresses. I do sympathise with thick-haired girls here, I can totally understand how painful it would be to style and care for all those, lush, thick and full chunks of hair you have…
It also is a good thing sometimes when we don’t have so much hair. I know girls who have said that they can get headaches because of how heavy their hair is, and also how sore their scalp can get from pulling their hair back into a ponytail.
So how do I minimise the emotional pain of having thin hair?
I’ve learnt some good lessons over the years that help combat my thin hair, and some would say I’m quite good at hiding how thin my hair really is now. I’ll share a few of my tips and the products I’ve come across that are now staples in my bathroom cupboard.
Change up the way you wash your hair
If you think you are getting too oily too quickly you could try what’s called ‘Reverse Cleansing’. It’s taken off in Europe according to Nikita Papas from L’Oreal. It’s basically doing the reverse of your current practice: conditioning your hair (including your scalp) first and then going in with your shampoo to remove the residue. The benefits? You are conditioning your scalp – which girls with oily and thin hair tend to avoid – and removing residue left from a conditioner that could weigh down your hair. I’ve given it a few goes, but I haven’t noticed any drastic changes yet, but at the same it hasn’t worsened my hair.
Dry shampoo is also the hero in many kits of the girls with thin hair, but after noticing some of the side effects of constantly using commercial dry shampoo (detailed in my previous post here), I now have switched to making up my own little concoction of dry shampoo which seems to work better. It is a double-whammy, absorbs oil as well as giving your roots a massive volume lift. However! I am currently trialing the LUSH No Drought* Dry Shampoo to see how it compares to other commercial products. I’m hoping it’s cornflour formula with antibacterial properties will be healthier for my scalp whilst still being effective.
Don’t over condition your hair
Another tip I’ve come across and put into practice a few times is only shampooing your hair in the shower and just using a light leave-in conditioner in your hair as a substitute for conditioner. Most in-shower conditioners are way too heavy for fine hair, weighing down your strands making them fall flatter against your scalp. So the idea is that the leave-in conditioner will still condition your hair without weighing it down. If leave-in conditioners are still too heavy, you could use a hair oil. The molecules are smaller in size so are less heavy on your strands as opposed to conditioners which are full of what are called ‘filler ingredients’ which can weigh down our strands. I am absolutely obsessed with the Davroe Argan Oil* treatment! It has changed my life. The S-Factor* by Tigi is another favourite and smells SO DAMN GOOD OMG!
Blow-dry your hair to suit your locks
The biggest thing in terms of blow-drying my hair that has helped is by blow drying with my head upside down. Blow-drying your hair follicles in a direction other than it’s natural direction will ‘push’ them up to sit higher, thereby creating a little more lift in your hair.
Also, too much brushwork on wet hair while blow-drying can pull out your hair and also make your hair more limp if you are pulling it down against your scalp. So rough-dry your hair with your fingers to about 90% dry, and then go in with a brush for the finishing touches.
Lightweight texturing sprays are essential
This is something I use not only to create more texture and volume to my slippery hair, but to also hold curls a lot better than just using hairspray. They coat your hair shaft with a film that has more of a grip. Because your hair shafts are more grippy, they don’t ‘slide’ against each other and that means you actually get more volume! I use them either before blow-drying for a big hit of volume, or just spritz it through my hair and carefully brush it out before going in with a heat styler. The grippy hair strands hold their style and shape a lot better.
Beachy salt sprays are amazing for this, there are plenty on the market but my favourite is the Salty Dog* spray from Evo.
As a final comment though, despite my lengthy, complaint-abundant post, remember to embrace your hair for what it is. While I frequently get frustrated that I’ll never have the cascading, luscious long locks all over the media, I know that there are so many other people who suffer the same but learn to love what they have. I am learning to manage my hair for what it is, and to work with it the best I can to make it look the best it can. But I am always experimenting and learning, and I am taking solace in the jealousy of the many girls with thick hair who are envious that it only takes 3 minutes to blow dry mine.