With the holidays on the horizon and so many of our celebrations slated for Zoom or FaceTime, we can easily hide a burgeoning menopot in comfy pants or manipulate the camera angle to mask a double chin. But our hair is front and center, putting thinning locks and sparse spots in the spotlight. So we asked hair pros for the best hair colors that make hair look thicker.
Their picks impart strand-boosting luster and vibrance, and the bonus styling tweaks that add bounce and body, for your healthiest, most voluminous locks on screen and in person! Discover the ones that work for you:
“The silvery streaks in the bubbly-tinged shade catch the light, making hair luminescent, so it’s optically more dense,” says colorist Mike Petrizzi, who’s worked with Joan Jett and Mandy Moore. Plus, stacking layers around the crown can make hair look thicker by creating visual bulk at the roots.
Get the color: First, lighten hair with a bleaching kit like Manic Panic Flash Lightning Bleach Kit (Buy at Manic Panic, $12.99). Let process for 30 minutes; rinse and dry hair.
Next, apply a beige-colored toner like AGEbeautiful Permanent Liqui-Creme Topcoat Toner in Beige Blonde (Buy at Sally Beauty, $6.79) all over hair and let sit for 20 minutes; rinse. The toner’s rosy-violet pigments eliminate any leftover bleach-caused brassiness.
Get the style: Blow-dry hair in 2” sections, spritz hair with a wax spray like CHI Spray Wax (Buy on Amazon, $15.21), then use fingers to stack piecey layers around the crown.
Fiery Copper Flip
“Vibrant copper shades have an underlying kaleidoscope of red, yellow, and brown pigments that create the illusion of depth and dimension to even the thinnest of tresses,” says Petrizzi. “And flippy texture gives strands mega movement.”
Get the color: Apply a copper dye like L’Oréal Paris Feria in #C74-Intense Copper (Buy at Walmart, $8.97) all over dry hair; wait 30 minutes, then rinse with cold water since red dye’s large molecules easily slip out of strands when exposed to hot water, dulling color over time.
Get the style: Use a flat iron on 1” sections of hair, pulling in an outward motion toward the ends. Work a pinch of pomade like TIGI Bed Head Manipulator (Buy at Ulta, $22) through ends to help keep flippy texture in place.
Buttered Toffee ‘Bends’
Subtle blond highlights against a deep cocoa base create a shadowing effect that tricks the eye and helps make hair look thicker head of hair, says Matrix hair care colorist George Papanikolas, who’s worked with stars like Salma Hayek and Ellen Pompeo. Also great? The movement of tousled face-framing waves helps hair look even fuller.
Get the color: Paint the bleach from a highlighting kit like Madison Reed Light Works Balayage Highlighting Kit in Lazio (Buy at Ulta, $45), onto 1⁄2” sections of hair around the face starting 3” away from roots. Let sit 30 minutes; rinse.
Get the style: Loosely wrap 2” sections of hair around a 1 1⁄2” curling iron from cheek level down. Let cool; comb with fingers.
Iced Mocha Curls
“Golden brown highlights weaved through a darker brown base create a variation in tones that adds volumeboosting dimension from roots to ends,” explains Stephanie Brown, celebrity colorist at New York City’s IGK Salon. Even better, bouncy, sideswept coils draw attention away from the hairline and the temples, areas that are prone to becoming sparser with age.
Get the color: Opt for a highlighting kit formulated specifically for dark hair like Revlon Color Effects Frost & Glow Highlights in Honey (Buy at Rite Aid, $12.49). This will ensure highlights look naturally sun-kissed. Use a clean toothbrush (this helps apply highlights more precisely) to paint 1” sections of hair throughout the head, starting 1⁄2” away from roots to prevent a harsh line of demarcation. Let highlights process for 35 minutes before rinsing.
Get the style: Spritz a root spray like John Frieda Volume Lift Thickening Spray (Buy at Walgreens, $6.99) onto damp hair (the spray props hair up and off of the scalp for added lift), then massage onto the scalp and blow dry. Next, use a 1” curling iron on 1” sections of hair and alternate the direction curls fall (one section toward the face and the other away from it) for less contrived-looking curls. This technique also causes coils to “crash” into each other to further “plump” hair.
Crème Brûlée Cascade
“A deeper root color paired with shimmering blond highlights creates a contouring effect that adds major mane dimension,” says colorist Nikki Lee, who has worked with Eva Longoria and Kate Hudson. “Since there’s a ‘shadow’ at the root, any regrowth will look intentional so highlights require fewer touch-ups.” And styling ends to curve inward helps “fill in” the open space at the neck, which can make hair look thicker thanks to the illusion of more hair even when there isn’t any.
Get the color: For the highlights, use a hair-painting kit like Clairol Nice’n Easy Balayage for Blondes (Buy on Amazon, $14.94) and apply the bleach onto various 1⁄2” sections throughout. Let process 30 minutes, then rinse. Next, use a clean mascara wand to apply a dye two shades darker than the rest of hair like Ion Intensive Shine Hair Color Kit in Dark Blonde (Buy at Sally Beauty, $9.99) onto roots in 1⁄4”-long streaks with a 1⁄2” of space between each. Let sit for 30 minutes, then rinse.
Get the style: Blow-dry hair in 2” sections with a medium-size round brush, pulling ends in toward the face in C-like motions. Set with a texturing spray like KYN. Texture Spray (Buy at KYN, $16).
Red Wine Waves
The richness of a light auburn hue visually plumps strands for a more solid-looking mane, says Lee. Plus the beautiful bounce of “S” waves adds oomph to themore one-dimensional color.
Get the color: Apply a reddish brown dye like Garnier Nutrisse Ultra Color in Scarlett Ronze (Buy at CVS, $7.99) from roots to ends, then brush through with a wide-tooth comb to evenly saturate hair. Let process for 25 minutes, then rinse.
Get the style: Hold a flat iron horizontally and place 2” sections of hair between the plates starting around ear level. Clamp down, then slightly twist your wrist back and forth as you move the iron down to the ends. Finish by rubbing a dime-size amount of shine serum like Better Natured Shine Glaze (Buy at Better Natured, $22) from ear-level down to the ends. This helps to set waves while adding an extra touch of hair-thickening luster.
Toasted Chestnut Twist
“A dark brown hue with red undertones has a heaviness that optically expands hair so it appears more lush,” says colorist Rick Wellman, who has worked with Brooke Shields and Mariska Hargitay. And weaving in some soft caramel-kissed streaks creates added depth and dimension to strands. What’s more, the movement from oversize waves helps hair appear voluminous from every angle.
Get the color: Apply a reddish-brown base like Schwarzkopf Simply Color Permanent Hair Color in Dark Chocolate (Buy at CVS, $11.99) all over, then let sit for 30 minutes; rinse and blow-dry. Next, use a warm-toned lightening kit like Garnier Nutrisse Multi-Lights Highlighting Kit in Warm Bronze (Buy at Walmart, $6.97) — this ensures streaks blend in best with a warmer base color — and apply to a few random 1” sections of hair from mid-lengths to ends. Let process for 30 minutes; rinse.
Get the style: Work a dollop of a volumizing mousse like Pantene Volume Body Boosting Mousse (Buy at Walgreens, $4.79) into damp hair from roots to ends to bulk up and add grip to hair; blow-dry. Then wrap 1” sections of hair around a 1 1⁄2” curling iron. Once cool, run fingers through coils to gently break them up.
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A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.