Willow Sidhe is a nature enthusiast with over a decade of experience creating natural health and beauty products for herself and her family.
Thinning hair can be devastating to self-esteem, especially for women. And the worst part is you might lose up to a third of the hair on your head before you notice there’s a problem. I didn’t notice I had thinning hair until my hairdresser pointed it out.
If you wake up one morning and find your locks aren’t as thick as they used to be, don’t give up hope. There are several ways to make thin hair look thicker. In this post, I’ll share the things that worked for me (and those that didn’t).
But first, it’s important to address any underlying condition that might be causing your hair to thin. In my case, I had polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which caused a hormonal imbalance. See your doctor right away if you notice thinning hair to rule out any health issues.
Why Is My Hair Thinning?
Hormonal imbalances, thyroid problems, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, stress, certain medications, or even heredity can cause women to experience hair thinning. Could any of these common causes be affecting you?
- Hormonal Imbalance – Women going through pregnancy and menopause may lose more hair than normal. This is often temporary. PCOS causes excess androgens and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). High levels of these hormones cause hair loss by latching onto follicles and preventing them from growing new hair.
- Hypothyroidism – Left untreated, hypothyroidism causes diffuse thinning. Low levels of thyroid hormones mean the body can’t regenerate new cells – including hair cells. Luckily, proper treatment with prescription medication can stop and even reverse the problem.
- Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies – Many different vitamin and mineral deficiencies cause hair issues. The most common include iron, zinc, essential fatty acids, and vitamin D. Taking a high-quality multivitamin every day and eating a well-balanced diet may alleviate deficiencies and reverse thinning hair.
- Physical or Emotional Stress – Physical stressors such as surgery, severe illness, or even trauma can cause hair to fall out due to shock. This is temporary, and your hair should return to normal in three to six months. Emotional stress caused by things like divorce, loss of a loved one, work stress, etc. can also cause hair loss.
- Medications – Birth control pills, anticoagulants, beta blockers, anti-depressants, and some anticonvulsants may cause hair thinning. If you’re taking any of these, talk to your doctor to find out if they’re the culprit.
- Genetics – Female pattern alopecia or female pattern baldness may be the result of genetics. Unfortunately, the hair loss gene is passed down from parent to child. If your mother or father experienced thinning hair, you might have inherited the gene.
What Can I Do About It?
Start by asking your doctor to test for hormonal imbalances, hypothyroidism, and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Eat a well-balanced diet, exercise regularly, and take a multivitamin every day.
It also won’t hurt to take an extra vitamin D supplement if you don’t see much sun. And take an essential fatty acid supplement if you don’t eat much fatty fish.
In the meantime, here are five ways you can make your thin hair appear thicker. I have personally used all these methods and found them effective. It might take several months to see results, so start now. And remember to take good care of the hair you currently have.
1. Minoxidil (Rogaine)
No, it’s not just for men. Rogaine is my number one choice for women with thinning hair. I use it daily and it has made a huge difference in the thickness of my hair. Although it takes about three months to see optimal results, nothing else out there works better. (Believe me. I’ve tried everything.)
Purchase Minoxidil over-the-counter. It comes in a liquid or foam formula. Personally, I think the liquid formula is easier to apply to your scalp, and it’s much easier to measure with the included pipette. There are two types of Minoxidil available:
- Women’s Formula – Weaker version of the Men’s formula (only 2% minoxidil) to be used twice daily.
- Men’s Formula – Contains 5% Minoxidil and approved only for men.
I am a woman and I use the men’s formula. I have never used the women’s, so I can’t speak for its results. I use an off-brand men’s liquid formula once a day. I have lots of new hair growth and my bald spots are filling in. I apply it directly to my scalp just before bed each night and wash my hair in the morning. It works if you give it time.
2. Nioxin Shampoo and Conditioner
Nioxin is a brand of shampoo and conditioner specifically formulated for thinning hair. I also use these daily, and I love the way my hair feels. According to Nioxin, their products gently remove residue and DHT from the hair and scalp, and provide nourishing vitamins, proteins, and amino acids.
There are six different Nioxin “systems” on the market:
- System 1 – For natural hair with light thinning.
- System 2 – For natural hair with progressed thinning. (This is the one I use.)
- System 3 – For colored hair with light thinning.
- System 4 – For colored hair with progressed thinning.
- System 5 – For chemically-treated hair with light thinning.
- System 6 – For chemically-treated hair with progressed thinning.
Each “system” includes a shampoo, conditioner, and scalp treatment. I skip the scalp treatment because I use Rogaine instead. I also don’t buy the “kits” for sale on the Nioxin website. Instead, I buy large bottles of the shampoo and conditioner separately on Amazon, and they last for months.
I can’t be 100% sure that Nioxin’s claims are true, but based on my own experience, it has made a difference in my hair growth. I use it in conjunction with Minoxidil to get the best results. And if nothing else, I use a salon-quality shampoo that doesn’t increase hair loss. Why not try everything we can to help our hair, right?
Tip: Only apply conditioner to the ends of your hair. Applying to your roots can weigh your hair down and make it appear thinner. This even applies to Nioxin or other “thickening” conditioners.
3. Thickening Mousse
My third secret is thickening or volumizing mousse.
Even the most inexpensive brands will help give your hair volume. My favorite brand is Herbal Essences Body Envy Volumizing Mousse. The volume boost literally lasts all day – even after a grueling workout at the gym. I’ve also used Suave Professionals Firm Control Boosting Mousse. This one costs about $3.00 and works quite well for the price.
I work the mousse into my damp hair after washing and towel drying in the morning and then blow-dry. It gives me a nice lift to make my hair look thicker. If I don’t have time to blow dry, I apply the mousse and allow my hair to completely air dry before brushing it out.
Find a mousse you like in your price range and give it a try.
4. Get a Shorter Haircut
If you have super thin hair like me, you don’t want a full-blown Pixie cut. But you do want something above shoulder length with voluminous layers.
Talk to your hair stylist. Tell them your concerns about your thinness and see if they have ideas for a style that will add more boost. My stylist recommended a chin-length bob with plenty of layers in the back to really make it look thick, and I couldn’t be happier.
A side-part can also help, but avoid bangs at all costs. Bangs will highlight your thinness, especially in the front.
5. Weekly Aloe Vera Treatment
I love natural remedies, but unfortunately there aren’t many that actually work when it comes to thinning hair. Aloe Vera might be the exception. Some of the reported benefits of aloe for hair loss include:
- Increases blood flow to the scalp
- Resolves scalp inflammation
- Removes excess oil from hair follicles
- Promotes hair growth
- Strengthens existing hair
If you want to try it, buy a pure 100% aloe gel (or better yet, get it straight from the plant). If the product contains alcohol or other additives, it can dry out and irritate your scalp.
Apply the gel directly to your scalp and allow it to sit for 30 – 60 minutes, then rinse and wash your hair as usual. Repeat once a week to get the most benefits from this treatment. Although I can’t say for sure if this has helped with regrowth directly, it has improved my scalp health. And that can only be good for trying to grow more hair.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Willow Sidhe (author) on February 04, 2018:
You are lucky! I've been able to keep my thin hair looking reasonably good by using these methods. I'm just about to start my aloe treatment for the week. I think it really helps. I hope your friend has luck with it!
Mary Wickison from Brazil on February 04, 2018:
I am lucky, I don't have this problem. However, my friend does. I will pass this on to her. She will likely try the aloe vera method as she loves using natural products on her hair and skin.
Thanks for the information.