Thicker hair is desired by all, whether you’re an aspiring young actor or a hard-working parent approaching middle age. When hair is thick and strong, it looks better from every angle and offers more resilience and versatility for styling and shaping as you wish.
Although you may feel the limitations of genetics when trying to level up your hair, don’t worry — you’ve got more options than you think! To grow your hair thicker starts with knowledge and requires long-term follow-through with a dash of discipline and good fortune. These things are all attainable with time, but where should you start?
In this article, we’re figuring out what it means to have thick hair, what determines hair thickness, and how to attain it while avoiding common mistakes.
Achieving thicker hair starts with identifying the goal in clear terms. What exactly makes hair look and feel thick, and what traits contribute to the appearance of thicker hair on the scalp?
Here are three main categories that play into hair thickness and why they each matter.
If we’re talking about individual hair follicles as components of the bigger picture, it makes sense to look at the actual dimensions of each hair to determine thickness at first glance. The average human hair ranges between 0.016mm to 0.05mm in thickness, and some outliers can be found on either side.
We may not think a few hundredths of a millimeter makes a difference, but when talking about thousands of hairs in close formations across an entire scalp, those millimeters add up to a significant visual impact.
You might not be able to measure hair strand size at home, but your barber or stylist may have some insights on the natural thickness of your hair based purely on the look and feel.
By hair texture and shape, we typically refer to hair “types” such as wavy, curly, straight, kinky, and so on. These textures vary widely, and while many try to introduce new shapes to their hair, the natural patterns always return to place with time.
In terms of thickness, hair texture can certainly add a sense of volume to hair that might not be very thick on its own. For example, straight hair can often look thinner compared to curly hair, simply based on the volume these different shapes take up on the scalp.
You aren’t destined for thin hair if you have a particular texture, but it’s important to note when using your natural locks to their fullest advantage.
Hair industry veterans, whether stylists or restoration specialists, make it clear that coverage, density, and thickness are all separate things. For our purposes, however, the overall appearance of thick, healthy hair is a common goal, and there’s no denying that coverage is key to getting that look.
By coverage, we’re talking about areas of the scalp that are effectively covered by hair, without specifying the thickness or quality of that hair. For instance, a man with a receding hairline will still have majority coverage on his scalp, despite losing some upfront.
Density, on the other hand, refers to the number of hair strands clustered within a single square inch. Both these metrics are used in discussing everything from hair treatments to beard transplant procedures, and each serves a purpose. Generally, surgeons aim to replicate the natural density level of hair when increasing coverage, achieving a more organic look.
We know what contributes to hair thickness on a micro and macro level, but what are the underlying reasons behind things like hair strand width, coverage, density, texture, breakage, and others?
Since these things differ so much from person to person, it’s worth investigating deeper and seeing which factors make the biggest difference in the overall thickness equation.
It shouldn’t be shocking to find that genetics is the main predictor of hair type and hair thickness in both men and women. With billions of distinct DNA pairs in the genome, it’s no wonder that hair looks, feels, and behaves so differently across the human race.
When drilling down into the genetics of hair thickness, we find that DNA determines everything from the precise shape of each hair follicle to the frequency of follicle life cycles, changes in texture, and much more.
Research shows that the EDAR gene configures many aspects of skin and hair development long before we’re born. This gene has “additive” qualities, meaning that if you inherit it from both parents, you can attain twice the thickness before taking your first breath!
Interestingly, the “thick hair” version of the gene is prevalent in a high percentage of East Asian individuals, while Africans and Europeans rarely ever have it.
Genetics should not hold you back from going after the thick hair you want, but it’s important to recognize the role of heritage when looking at your situation objectively.
How we live our lives will influence all aspects of our appearance, including hair thickness. While lifestyle is a broad term, it can include everything from exercise and air quality to diet, nutrition, supplementation, and more. That’s why we tend to include “environment” as a factor here, even if it’s not in our direct control.
Still, you can improve lifestyle factors in many ways and boost the health of your hair in the process. At a minimum, aim to include varied exercise in your regimen while eating relatively “clean” foods and avoiding bad habits like smoking and excess alcohol consumption.
Hair maintenance and hygiene can’t be overlooked when discussing hair thickness. Neglecting key aspects of hair care may accelerate issues like spit-ends and fraying, which results in wispy, fine hair and even hair loss.
Everyone requires a unique approach to hair care based on their genetics and circumstances, but the basics apply across the board.
Speaking of hair care and general hair growth tips, how can you improve hair thickness moving forward? Here are some tips to see the thickness you want over time.
You can’t hack the genome and manipulate hair thickness through DNA, but you can alter your hairstyle to make it appear thicker and more voluminous. This may involve strategically shaping your hair with hair products, brushes, blow dryers, or other safe forms of heating elements.
Dry shampoo can also help keep your hair looking voluminous instead of being weighed down by natural oils. A simple change in hairstyle can make your hair take up more space and create a perception of greater thickness, even if each hair strand’s dimensions remain the same.
As you seek a refreshed style for your hair, remember that frequent trims and grooming sessions will help minimize the effects of fraying and frizz. Fewer hairs will “fly away” from the scalp when well groomed, ensuring your hair seems more cohesive and thick overall.
In addition, try to avoid heat styling or using heat tools like straighteners, curling irons, or high-heat blow dryers without using heat protectant spray first. Heat can hold you back from reaching the healthier hair you want, so aim for styling products that don’t use heat.
This goes for men and women, regardless of your hair texture or type. With the right hair care products and routines, you can keep hair orderly and maintained while maximizing the look and feel of each strand to attain a more effective look as a whole.
Hair health starts with scalp health, so it’s important to optimize conditions in the scalp to ensure healthy growth and rest life cycles. This requires the right levels of moisture and perhaps some extra nutrient enrichment via essential oils like lavender or peppermint.
Scalp massage can also support blood flow in the scalp, which can help boost hair growth, according to some studies.
Scalp hydration is especially important if you live in low-humidity environments and struggle with issues like flakes and itchiness. It doesn’t hurt to keep the humidifier flowing in your home office or bedroom during winter. You can also use a hydrating hair mask or oil to help hydrate your scalp and support healthy hair growth.
Certain foods and supplements can help take your hair thickness to the next level. Focus on clean, natural foods containing protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and slow-digesting carbs low in sugar. A healthy diet can positively affect hair health, minimize processed foods and refined sugars, help combat inflammation, and reduce bacteria buildup on the scalp.
Collagen and biotin supplements are often recommended for hair growth, so consider adding them to your routine as well. They’re easy to take in pill or powder form and might give you an edge.
While there are various thickening products and strategies on the market, it’s important to get an expert opinion when developing a hair restoration plan. Connect with experts like Jae Pak Medical to get professional insights and follow through with a successful strategy.
Whether this means introducing medicine, alternative therapies, Scalp MicroPigmentation, or hair transplantation, you’ll know the exact benefits of each approach and will make informed decisions based on the facts and your unique vision.
Hair thickness can be a misleading term since everyone uses the expression slightly differently. When communicating with stylists or doctors, use accurate terminology and clearly express your goals.
With these tips and some help from hair restoration experts, you’ll soon be on track to achieving the thick and healthy hair you’ve always wanted.
10 Ways to Get Thicker, Healthier-Looking Hair Over 50 | AARP
Is Hair Texture Determined By Genetics? | MedlinePlus
The Structure of People’s Hair | NIH
Standardized Scalp Massage Results in Increased Hair Thickness by Inducing Stretching Forces to Dermal Papilla Cells in the Subcutaneous Tissue | NIH
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