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Everyone desires a thick, full head of hair, often associating it with a good appearance and good health. However, various internal and external factors can affect the health of the hair.
Thus, you must be aware of the things that can cause your hair to fall out and take appropriate measures to maintain your desired hair volume.
This article discusses the different factors that can influence hair volume, along with different home remedies and self-care measures to improve hair volume.
Factors Affecting Hair Volume
Hair volume refers to the number of hair strands on the head and the thickness of an individual hair strand. The denser and thicker the hair, the more hair volume.
On average, an individual has 2,200 strands per square inch of scalp. This number may be influenced by several factors, including:
- Genes. Hair quality is largely affected by genetic makeup. Conditions such as male-pattern or female-pattern baldness that cause hair loss generally develop due to genetic tendencies.
- Chemical exposure. The use of products containing chemicals such as parabens, sulfates, formaldehyde, and isopropyl alcohol can make the hair weak and brittle. Similarly, keratin treatment, hair dyes, or bleaching of the hair can contribute to hair fall due to the chemicals involved.
- Medical conditions. Thyroid problems, anemia, and allergies can all contribute to hair loss, also known as telogen effluvium.
- Stress. Stress and emotional turmoil are among the top contributors to hair thinning. (1) Stress can either directly affect the hair or have a negative impact on the immune system and hormonal levels.
- Hormonal fluctuations. It is common to experience decreased hair volume when going through hormonal changes, regardless of gender. (2) Hormone-related hair loss is more so common in women with polycystic ovarian disorder (PCOD), wherein an excess of testosterone causes the hair to become brittle and thin, leading to decreased hair volume.
- Improper diet. A lack of proper nutrition or a nutritional deficiency can negatively affect the hair follicles, often leading to hair loss and retarded hair growth.
- Aging. Reduced hair volume is a common aging factor. (3)
- Improper hair care. Excessive heat damage, not shampooing the hair, and tugging the hair can lead to hair damage.
- Pollution. The hair is highly susceptible to environmental pollutants, excessive exposure to which can lead to poor hair health.
How to Measure Hair Volume
You can easily estimate your hair volume through a scalp test, which means that a visible scalp, without having to part the hair, indies low hair volume.
You can also go for a phototrichogram for more accurate results.
Medical Treatments to Improve Hair Volume
Hair volume can generally be improved with proper hair care and some home remedies. However, you may require medical treatment if self-care measures do not work or you have a medical condition that is causing the hair fall and thinning.
Consult your doctor on the following treatments to help improve your hair volume:
- Minoxidil. This is the only FDA-approved drug that is useful in boosting hair growth. It is available as a topical solution that is applied to the scalp. (4)
- Nanoxidil. This newly developed drug is derived from minoxidil. The long-term effects of nanoxidil are still being studied, and it is thus advised to consult your doctor before using this cosmeceutical.
- Finasteride and dutasteride. These medications are commonly used for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in men.
- Platelet-rich plasma therapy. The patient’s blood plasma is injected into the scalp to boost hair health.
- Mesotherapy. Essential nutrients are injected into the scalp mesoderm, enabling higher nutrient absorption by the hair follicle, thus boosting hair growth.
- Laser treatment. Mild, low-level lasers are used to stimulate the hair follicles.
- Hair transplant. A patch of skin with hair and hair follicles is cut from another part of the body and implanted in the head.
Natural Treatments for Increased Hair Volume and Thickness
Various natural agents are readily available, are easy to use, and can help increase your hair volume, thickness and density. Make sure that you are not allergic or sensitive to any of the ingredients by conducting a patch test first.
1. Use herbs
Different herbs have been used anecdotally for a long time to increase hair volume. However, the claims are backed by only a few scientific studies.
How to use:
- Use shampoos or serums containing ginseng, (5) fenugreek, bhringraj, reetha, brahmi, shikakai, green tea (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), (6) triphala, and Chinese hibiscus. (7)
- Make hair rinses with these herbs.
- Some of these herbs are also available as supplements, but you must consult your doctor before using them.
2. Try essential oils
Studies showed that essential oils such as peppermint oil, (8) geranium oil, (9) lavender oil, (10) and rosemary oil (11)(12) can boost hair growth and improve hair density. However, further clinical trials are warranted to establish these effects.
How to use: Mix a few drops of any essential oil in your conditioner and use as usual. Dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil, and massage the oil blend on your scalp.
3. Perform a caffeine rinse
Caffeine may boost hair growth by extending the anagen or growth phase of the hair cycle. This allows the increase of hair length and thickness. (13)
How to use: Prepare a coffee rinse by mixing coffee and water. Use commercially available hair products such as rinses, masks, and serums containing coffee.
4. Apply onion juice
How to use:
- Extract fresh onion juice and apply it to your scalp. Add a few drops of essential oil to mask the onion smell (optional). Rinse with water and shampoo as usual after around half an hour.
- Prepare an onion mask by mixing onion juice and honey. You may add a few drops of essential oil to cover the onion smell.
- Use commercially available lotions and serums containing onion juice.
5. Use Indian gooseberry
Indian gooseberry, commonly known as amla, is a popularly used ingredient for hair care. Both anecdotal evidence and results of scientific studies have shown that Indian gooseberry helps increase hair volume. (15)(16)
How to use:
- Mix amla powder with coconut oil, and apply the mixture to your scalp and hair.
- You can also use amla-based conditioners, shampoos, and serums to improve your hair health.
6. Make an egg mask
Eggs are another commonly used natural ingredient for improving hair health.
It is believed that the peptides in egg yolks help in hair growth. (17) This property of eggs is backed by limited scientific evidence and warrants further trials.
How to use:
- Apply an egg to your scalp and hair. You can add fenugreek seeds or honey to the egg mask for added benefits. Rinse with cold water after 15–20 minutes, and shampoo as usual.
- Purchase hair serums, oil, and other hair products containing eggs.
7. Apply aloe vera gel
Aloe vera gel is thought to help stimulate hair growth, thus improving hair volume. While this enjoys some anecdotal evidence, there is no scientific evidence to it. However, you can give this remedy a try if you are not allergic to aloe vera.
How to use:
- Extract fresh aloe vera gel, and massage it on your scalp and hair for 15–20 minutes.
- Buy hair serums containing aloe vera gel extracts for use.
Hair-Care Measures to Improve Hair Volume
Besides treating your hair with home remedies or medical treatment, it is essential to improve your diet and hair care routine to increase your hair volume.
The following self-care measures will also help in preventing hair thinning and hair loss:
1. Consume a proper diet
A healthy, well-balanced diet is essential to maintaining good hair health.
It is vital to include the following micronutrients in your diet to improve hair growth: (18)
- Vitamin D, which can be consumed through salmon, eggs, and red meat
- Iron and zinc, which are abundant in spinach, chard, kale, lettuce, collard, and beans
- Biotin, found in salmon, eggs, lentil, and peanuts
- Folic acid, found in leafy greens, broccoli, and fortified breakfast cereals
- Polyphenols, through citrus fruits, berries, and bell peppers
- Flavonoids, found in green tea and dark chocolate
You must also consume the following macronutrients:
- Protein, found in meat, soybean, lentils, and seafood
- Omega-3 fatty acids, (19) found in chia seeds, nuts, flaxseeds, and freshwater fishes (20)
You can also consume these nutrients in the form of supplements upon consulting your doctor.
2. Massage your scalp
Massaging your scalp is a common recommendation for boosting hair volume and improving hair health in general.
Regular scalp massage boosts blood circulation to the hair follicles, which, in turn, increases nutrient and oxygen supply, thus improving hair growth. (21)
You can use lukewarm coconut oil, argan oil, olive oil, or Jamaican black castor oil to massage your scalp two to three times a week. (22) Add any of the above-mentioned essential oils to the carrier oil for added benefits.
3. Use volume-boosting products
You may use volume-boosting products such as mousses, lotions, thickening sprays, and gels when styling or washing your hair.
Use volume-boosting shampoos that gently cleanse your hair, and then apply conditioner to help untangle the hair. Avoid applying conditioner to the scalp as this can lead to an oily buildup.
Choose a product that is suitable for your hair type. Avoid the use of molding mud, styling creams, and waxes that contain parabens, sulfates, and similar harmful chemicals.
4. Improve your shampooing habits
While it is necessary to keep your hair clean, shampooing daily can strip your hair of its natural oils, leaving it dry and brittle. Therefore, shampoo your head up to three times a week only.
It is also important to avoid washing your hair with hot water as it can weaken the strands. Moreover, do not use water with high concentrations of minerals such as fluoride and chloride.
5. Wear hair extensions
Hair extensions are a common accessory to make the hair appear long and dense. You can consult your stylist on the type of hair extensions you can use.
Make sure to limit the use of hair extensions as these can pull on your hair and scalp. It is essential to clean them properly to avoid microbial buildup.
6. Try hair-lifting styling techniques
You can try different hairstyles to see what gives your hair a more voluminous appearance. One such hairstyling technique involves lifting the hair at your roots by blow drying it while it is slightly damp.
It is recommended to apply some hairstyling product after blow drying to allow the hair to set, preventing it from falling back to the scalp.
7. Comb your hair before sleeping
Comb your hair using a soft-bristled brush before sleeping. You can either use a brush with silicone bristles or boar bristles.
Adding this step to your hair care routine will boost blood circulation to the follicles and prevent hair damage. Moreover, it helps in the even distribution of the natural oils in your scalp.
8. Handle your hair gently
Refrain from combing or styling your hair while it is still wet to avoid breakage. Do not rub a towel to dry your hair.
Instead, gently dab your hair with the towel to absorb the excess water and then allow it to air dry. You can also use a microfiber towel to avoid friction and frizziness.
9. Use heated rollers
You can use heat rollers for a quick volume boost to your hair. Simply take your hair in segments and wrap it tightly around the roller. Use larger rollers for higher volume. However, since this method uses heat, limit its use to avoid damaging your hair.
It is best to apply a thermal protective product before using any form of heat styling to protect your hair from unnecessary damage.
10. Avoid excessive heat styling
Refrain from using hair straighteners, curling irons, and blow dryers on your hair as the heat can cause damage and eventually hair fall.
Make sure to apply thermal protectants whenever you have to use any such hairstyling instruments.
11. Choose natural products over synthetic ones
Prefer the use of homemade masks, such as those discussed above, over store-bought, chemical-containing, synthetic products. Moreover, go for hair products that contain natural products rather than only chemicals.
12. Refrain from using chemical hair treatments
As discussed above, chemical treatments such as perming, keratin treatment, bleaching, and dying your hair can be harmful to hair health. It is best to avoid such treatments to preserve your hair volume.
13. Use silk pillowcases
Silk pillowcases are soft on your hair. Pillowcases made of other fabrics can cause friction to the hair, leading to hair damage and hair fall.
14. Manage your stress
Practice stress management techniques to prevent hair loss and thinning. You can perform yoga, meditation, and aromatherapy for the same.
15. Quit smoking
Most-Asked Questions About Hair Volume
Is it true that coloring or relaxing the hair helps increase hair volume?
While treatments such as relaxing or coloring the hair can give an illusion of thick, voluminous hair, the results are temporary.
Moreover, these treatments expose the hair to lots of chemicals that are harmful to hair health in the long run. Such treatments are often followed by weak, shedding hair, ultimately leading to reduced hair volume.
Can shaving the hair help increase its volume?
Shaving your hair cannot help increase hair volume as it has no effect on the hair follicles and thus on hair growth. Instead, try haircuts that give you a voluminous look, such as an angled bob cut.
Hair volume is characterized by the thickness and density of the hair. Most people desire voluminous hair, but it is often affected by different internal and external factors.
It is easy to increase your hair volume by using natural remedies and implementing self-care measures. It is vital to take proper care of your hair and protect it from damage to preserve your hair volume.
If your hair volume doesn’t improve or continues to decrease despite proper care, immediately consult a doctor, as your hair loss may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition.