For all its benefits of being smooth and silky, fine hair can be really tough to style. Put in too much product and it’s pancake flat; apply too little and it’s dry and brittle. There are also seasonal changes to contend with: Summer means oil-slicked center parts, while winters leave fine hair uncontrollably static. I’ve spent years figuring out my fine hair and now want to help you learn from my mistakes. Here's what to do—and what not to do.
Wash Less Frequently
I like to compare washing fine hair to laundering a delicate garment—the more you wash it, the worse for wear it becomes. In fact, over-washing strips the natural oils that maintain body and shine. After years of cleansing my hair daily—and changing-up shampoo brands and types with alarming regularity—I realized that all I needed to do was halve my washing frequency, and make friends with dry shampoo. My favorite? Drybar Triple Sec ($26; shop.drybar.com), which soaks up oil and adds volume. These days I typically wash and blow-dry Monday morning, fix my hair up with a little dry shampoo on Tuesday, pull it into a messy bun or ponytail on Wednesday, then repeat the cycle. I try to forgo washing over the weekend.
Don't Load Up on Product
I shudder when I think about the amount of time (and money!) I’ve spent on product after product to turn my fine hair into something it simply is not: voluminous and wavy. I've finally accepted that hair products are not magic elixirs, at least not when used in a random manner. It's the way you apply a product really matters. For example, I used to run mousse from root to tip pre-blow dry, hoping to create volume. It never worked. Now, I only use mousse at the roots to take some weight off the ends. The result? Much more lift. In addition, I’ve swapped moisturizing serums for a once-weekly, overnight coconut oil mask. And when it come to in-shower conditioning, I only apply product to the very ends of my hair after I wash.
Lay Off the Blow-Dryer
There was a time when I could have led a Hair Dryers Anonymous group. Until recently I believed that if my I left my hair drying to the natural winds, it would fall flat and drab. Then I discovered Not Your Mother’s Plump For Joy ($7; nymbrands.com), a thickening product that's best after late-night workouts when I need to shower in the evening. After washing, I spray the thickener into my palms and sprunch into wet, combed hair. Then I sleep with damp tresses and wake up with natural volume and a very slight wave. The product can be used on dry hair, too, so I sometimes sprunch in a little more in the a.m. to add extra texture.