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Low-Density Hair: Essential Tips & Volume-Boosting Products You Need to Try

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Along with hair texture and porosity, hair density is one of the key factors in achieving beautiful, healthy hair.

If you’ve been told you have low density hair, you might be unsure about what that means or how to care for it. But understanding your hair density will help you pick the hairstyles, hair care products, and styling techniques that bring out the best in your low density tresses.

In this guide, I’ll explain what hair density means and how to tell the difference between the three types of hair density. I’ll also share some helpful tips on making low density hair look full of volume and how to pick the right products for low density hair.

What Is Low-Density Hair?

Hair density is a term that describes the number of individual hair strands in each square inch of your scalp and how closely packed those strands are. The more hairs in each square inch, the higher your hair density. 

The term describes your hair as a whole, and your hair density is usually classified as low, medium, or high. Low density or thin hair describes hair strands that are widely spaced from each other, while high density strands are packed closely together. As the name suggests, medium-density hair falls somewhere between the two. 

Low hair density isn’t especially good or bad. It’s just one of the characteristics that will help you tailor your hair care routine to suit your tresses.

hair density chart

What Causes Low Hair Density?

The different types of hair density are affected by genetic factors, aging, overall health, and the quality of your diet.

Genetics

A 2017 study showed a link between different ethnicities and hair density. For example, Caucasian hair is more likely to have a higher density than Asian, Hispanic/Latinx, or African hair1. 

Age

Age can also affect your hair’s density, which is generally at its highest when you’re in your twenties.

From your mid-thirties onwards, you’re likely to find that your hair starts to get thinner. That’s because the resting phase of the hair growth cycle becomes longer, causing more shedding.

Diet

A diet low in nutrients like protein, iron, biotin, and vitamin B12 can cause hair loss2. However, a diet that has too much selenium, Vitamin A, or Vitamin E has also been linked to hair thinning3.

Health

Hair density doesn’t indicate general health, but some health conditions can cause hair density to fall. These conditions include polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), thyroid disease, and certain autoimmune diseases.

Pregnancy and hormone changes in the perimenopause can also cause hair thinning. 

Scalp conditions like seborrheic dermatitis or scalp psoriasis can affect hair follicles, and factors like stress or sudden weight loss can affect the hair growth cycle. 

back view of low density hair where scalp is visible
You can see how my scalp shows because of the lower density hair I have.

Low-Density Hair vs. High-Density Hair vs. Medium Density Hair

Identifying whether you have high, low, or medium density hair is one of the vital steps toward creating a haircare routine tailored to suit your tresses perfectly. 

So, if you’re wondering ‘what does low-density hair look like?’, here’s how to tell the difference between the three types:

Low density hair

Hair that’s low density has fewer strands of hair per square inch of scalp, and you might be able to see your skin through thin hair without parting it. A ponytail will feel thin, and you’ll need to wrap the tie around it several times to keep it in place.

It can be difficult to make low density hair look voluminous, and the strands are easily weighed down by heavy hair care products. So, choosing lighter products is crucial.

close up of low density hair

Medium density hair

Medium density hair is often called ‘normal hair’ and lies between low and high density hair. It has a balanced density of hair strands per square inch, and the scalp isn’t usually visible unless you part the hair. 

Medium-density hair is versatile and easy to style, so you can choose from a wide range of products and styles. 

medium density hair close up of scalp

High density hair

High density hair has more hair follicles per square inch than the other two types, and the scalp is hard to see, even if you part the hair. You’ll need to use strong hair ties to tie a ponytail. 

Styling high density hair can be challenging, as it is very thick and full. Choosing heavier products can make it more manageable. 

high density hair close up of scalp

How Can You Measure Hair Density?

Hair density is determined by counting the number of strands per square inch of your scalp. In the science lab, a technique called trichoscopy is used to magnify the scalp and hair strands by as much as 1000 times4. This allows the scientists to count the number of hair follicles accurately.

You probably don’t have your own trichoscope, but there are some easy ways to check your hair density at home. 

One easy method is to gather the front of your hair, pull it to one side, and see whether your scalp is visible through your hair.

  • If you can see your scalp easily, your hair is probably low density.
  • If your scalp is difficult to see, even at the part, you likely have high density hair.
  • Medium hair falls between these, so you can probably see your skin clearly, but only at the part.

If your hair is long enough to fasten in a ponytail, the ponytail test is another easy way to check your hair density. Simply tie your dry hair up in a ponytail and wrap a ribbon or piece of string around the base of it. Measure the length of the ribbon or string:

  • 2 inches or less indicates low density hair.
  • 2-4 inches indicates medium density hair.
  • 4 inches or more shows that you have high density hair.

If you’re struggling to work out your hair density, ask your stylist for their professional opinion.

What’s the Difference Between Hair Density and Hair Thickness?

Hair density and hair thickness are two terms that people tend to use in place of each other.

Hair thickness can be used to describe the width of each individual hair strand and is classified as fine, medium, or thick hair, also known as coarse hair. That’s different from hair density, which describes how closely the hairs are to each other. Sometimes thickness is used to describe density.

So, you could have thick hair or coarse textured hair that’s low density but still feels pretty full. 

Or, you might have high density, fine hair, which is what people mean when they say they have ‘fine hair but a lot of it.’ This will look full of body when it’s loose but might be hard to pin up in twists or buns. 

Can You Fix Low Density Hair?

If you’re wondering how to increase hair density, you might think there’s not much you can do without a hair transplant. You can’t actually make your hair more dense, but there are several ways you can make your hair look fuller. 

Opt for lighter products

If your hair has low density, choosing light products is essential. Steer clear of heavy oils or creams that have too much weight for thin hair and leave it looking flat. Instead, choose light creams and oils or misting sprays.

You’ll also need to adjust the amount of product you use to suit your hair. Low density means fewer strands to cover, so you’ll need to apply less product to cover each individual strand than someone with medium or high density hair. 

Style your hair for added volume

The choice of styles for low density hair is important, but you can also use styling tricks to make your hair look fuller.

Flipping your head upside down to diffuse dry your hair can boost volume, or you could try gently backcombing your hair to create a denser look. Large perm rods or rollers can be used to create a ‘bigger’ look, and you can use an afro pick to pick and fluff at the roots and give your hair a volume boost.

Remember that heat styling and backcombing can damage your hair. Use these techniques sparingly, and always apply a heat protectant before you start styling.

You could also try no-heat styling methods like putting damp hair in braids and letting it air-dry for natural-looking waves.

Boost hair growth with scalp massage

Massage increases blood flow to the follicles, helping to encourage healthy hair growth. This won’t increase the number of follicles, but it does help your follicles grow plump, healthy hair strands.

A lightweight penetrating oil like sweet almond oil is ideal for scalp massage. It will also hydrate your hair, which helps avoid breakage and makes your mane look fuller. 

Try a different hair color

Dark hair shades make your scalp more visible, so choosing a light hair color is an instant way to minimize scalp visibility and give the illusion of thick hair. Adding highlights also makes your hair appear fuller by giving your style greater depth. 

Ask your stylist for their professional opinion on using hair color to make thin hair look thicker.

Add volume with hair extensions

Finally, hair extensions and toppers are a great way to give your hair an instant volume boost. Matching your extensions or toppers to your hair color will give the look of naturally thick hair.

Best Hairstyles for Low Density Hair

Your hair’s density can make a big difference to how a hairstyle looks, so choosing the right haircut for low density hair is essential.

Here are some styles to consider:

  • Sleek bobs: A boxy bob cut can make thin hair look fuller. Keeping straight hair all at one length gives the style a blunt edge that turns up the volume.
  • Layered cuts: Alternatively, adding layers can give wavy or curly hair a more voluminous look.
  • Updos: Styling longer hair into high buns and chic twists gives a perception of thick hair.
  • Curls and waves: Bring out the curling irons or heated rollers to give your tresses extra volume, but remember to apply a heat protectant first.
  • Natural hairstyles: A wash-n-go style or a flat twist-out works well on low density tresses. Avoid styles that pull the hair too tight, which can weaken it.
before and after of haircut for low density curly hair
You can see the difference in the shape and volume of my low density hair after a cut.

Top 5 Lightweight Products To Boost Volume in Low-Density Hair

If you want to achieve more volume and fullness in low-density locks, it’s essential to choose lighter products. This will help prevent your hair from being weighed down by heavy products, which leads to flat, limp locks.

Your hair density also affects how much product you need to use. You’ll need to apply less than someone with high density hair, and using too much will easily overload your strands.

Not all low-density hair is the same, and it’s essential to consider other factors like your hair type and porosity when you’re shopping for hair care products. Our Curly Hair Type Quiz and Guide to Hair Porosity will help you figure out which type and porosity you have.

Best Volumizing Shampoo for Low Density Hair

A lightweight volumizing shampoo like Biolage Volume Bloom Shampoo will help add volume to thin hair. It cleanses the hair with minimal stripping and is silicone-free so it won’t weigh down low density strands. 

Be sure to choose a shampoo that’s suitable for your natural hair texture and follow the tips in our hair texture guides to find the right frequency for washing your hair.

Biolage Volume Bloom Shampoo
$24.00


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Best Conditioner for Low Density Hair

Follow each shampoo with a lightweight conditioner that won’t leave your tresses looking limp. Biolage Volume Bloom Conditioner is enriched with biotin and free from silicone to give weightless moisture and shine for a beautifully voluminous mane.

Avoid applying conditioner to the root area, as this can leave low density hair looking flat and greasy.

Biolage Volume Bloom Conditioner
$24.00


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05/22/2024 05:14 pm GMT

Best Volumizing Spray for Low Density Hair

A volumizing spray is a great way to give low density hair a boost of volume at the roots. For example, Paul Mitchell Extra-Body Boost Volumizing Spray is easy to apply to damp or dry hair, giving it full-bodied volume and lift.

Paul Mitchell Extra-Body Boost Volumizing Spray
$9.00


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05/22/2024 05:15 pm GMT

Best Volumizing Mousse for Low Density Hair

Kenra Platinum Thickening Mousse 12 plumps each hair strand by up to 150%, adding fullness and texture to give the appearance of thicker hair. This ultra-lightweight mousse gives flexible hold for up to 24 hours and also acts as a heat protectant up to 428°F, so it’s ideal for blow drying or heat styling. 

Kenra Platinum Thickening Mousse 12
$25.00 $20.00


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Best Volumizing Treatment for Low-Density Hair

Keranique Hair Thickening Spray is a multi-purpose spray that adds texture to low density strands to make your mane look fuller and thicker. It also protects the hair shaft against heat damage, and is enriched with Keratin Amino Complex to help protect the cuticle and seal split ends.

Keranique Hair Thickening Spray
$20.00 $18.97


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05/22/2024 05:19 pm GMT

FAQs

If you’re still looking for info about low density hair, these frequently asked questions may help:

How Can I Increase My Hair Density?

You can’t increase the number of individual strands you have, except through hair transplant surgery. However, there are ways to plump up the strands and give the illusion of denser hair.

These include styling your hair with volumizing products to add fullness and texture, changing your hair color to a lighter shade, or trying a hairstyle that gives greater volume.

Does Low Hair Density Mean Balding?

Having low density hair doesn’t mean you are balding. Losing as many as 100 strands of hair each day is normal, and some people naturally have hair follicles that are widely spaced from each other.

However, if your hair suddenly loses density, this could be hair thinning. It’s a good idea to seek medical advice to identify any underlying cause, and you might want to consider hair loss treatments.

How Does Low-Density Hair Differ From Fine Hair?

Fine hair refers to the width of each individual strand, while hair density refers to how many individual strands you have on your scalp and how close together they are.

The two terms work together to describe your hair, so you could have coarse hair with low hair density, or fine hair with high hair density.

Is Low-Density Hair More Prone to Breakage?

Low-density hair isn’t more prone to breakage, but fine hair can easily break or develop split ends. Fine hairs are also more susceptible to damage from heat styling or chemical treatments.

Is Low-Density Hair Genetic?

Low-density hair can have genetic causes or be influenced by factors like age or certain health conditions.

The Bottom Line

When planning your curly hair routine, you need to consider several factors, including hair type, natural hair texture, porosity, and density. You can easily determine your hair density at home with the ponytail test or by visually examining your hair and scalp. 

If you have low density hair, you can’t increase the number of individual strands on your head, and your mane won’t naturally have the same voluminous look as high density hair. 

But you can still achieve a beautiful, full-bodied mane by following the tips in this guide and selecting the right hairstyles, products, and techniques.

low density hair text overlay on image of balding scalp

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