Your Plan for Thicker, Healthier Hair

New breakthrough products and wise styling tricks give thinning hair bold volume and a healthy shine. By Ning Chao, REDBOOK.

Getting a little skinnier sounds nice--except when it comes to hair, that is. But it's part of aging: Our hair follicles shrink due to hereditary factors and hormonal shifts, which cause strands to grow in thinner and more fragile. "These changes usually start around your 40s, but stress can bring them on earlier," says Alan J. Bauman, M.D., a board-certified hair restoration physician and founder of Bauman Medical Group in Boca Raton, FL. If you've noticed your hair is getting finer, your timing is perfect: New treatments and smart strategies can fatten things up today and put the brakes on thinning in the long run.

First, know the signs.
"Most women initially spot finer strands around their hairline," says Fredric Brandt, M.D., a New York City and Miami dermatologist and host of the Ask Dr. Brandt adio show. Other typical signs of thinning: you have less volume, more broken strands, or you start finding more of your hair in the shower drain. The tips here can help you compensate, but if you're seeing more of your scalp peek through or your part starts to look wider, "These are signs of hair loss, which can signal a serious medical condition, so see your doctor," Brandt says.

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Get the right thickeners.

A fresh crop of scalp treatments geared toward thinning hair can give you a major boost. "Some contain ingredients like caffeine and niacinamide to stimulate circulation in the follicles, which in turn helps hair grow in thicker and healthier. Plus, many give you immediate plumping too," says Joseph J. Cincotta, Ph.D., a cosmetic chemist. (For his picks, see below.) Brandt also recommends a daily supplement of 5,000 mcg of biotin, "a vitamin that's been shown to slow thinning. My patients start seeing improvement after six months." Another option is Viviscal ($49.99 for a one-month supply), a supplement that targets hair loss. Hairstylists and celebs like Reese Witherspoon swear by it, and one study showed it can spike hair growth as much as 46 percent.

Switch up your style.
One of the easiest ways to take action is a trip to your trusty ol' hairstylist. "The right cut or highlights will give the illusion of fullness," says hairstylist Nick Arrojo of Arrojo Studio in New York City. He notes that hair looks thicker when it's layered, so whatever your style, make sure it's piece-y. Then, of course, there's dry shampoo. "It sticks to strands and really bulks them up," says Arrojo. "Spray it at your roots in sharp bursts, wait two minutes, then work it through with a vent brush, which fluffs up the hair." But please, don't resort to teasing your hair or adding extensions. "The wear and tear that both create can cause thin hair to break off!" Brandt says. And life is tough enough already, no?

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Body builders
Joseph J. Cincotta, Ph.D., a top cosmetic chemist, picks the best new thickeners.

FOR LONG-TERM HELP: Alterna Caviar Clinical Daily Root & Scalp Stimulator, $36; amazon.com

"It's packed with ingredients that improve circulation in the follicles, which can lead to thicker hair growth."

FOR INSTANT AND LONG-TERM HELP: Nioxin DiaMax Thickening Xtrafusion Treatment, $50; amazon.com

"With daily use, this caffeine and niacinamide blend can make your hair grow in thicker. It also gives immediate fullness."

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FOR A NATURAL BOOST: Aveda Invati Scalp Revitalizer, $60; amazon.com

"This uses potent herbs to increase blood flow in your scalp, but you have to apply it twice daily and really massage it in."

FOR A GREAT BARGAIN: Pantene AgeDefy Advanced Thickening Treatment, $18.99, amazon.com

"The product has similar growth-enhancers to the Nioxin one, plus terrific thickeners."

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