The Difference Between ‘Thicker’ and ‘Fuller’ in Hair Products

The Difference Between ‘Thicker’ and ‘Fuller’ in Hair Products featured image
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For many of us, Cindy Crawford–level volume doesn’t come naturally to our hair. We rely on products to help us achieve the look we want, whether it’s lifting at the root or overall body. We look for formulas that promise thicker hair and fuller strands, hoping they will make an impact. But did you know that these popular terms actually mean different things?

“When it comes to hair products, the terms ‘thicker’ and ‘fuller’ are often used to describe the appearance of having more hair on your head,” says Sophia Emmanuel, a trichologist and cosmetologist. “Though they sound similar, they mean different things. It is always important to read product descriptions and ingredients to learn about how the product is formulated. This will help you figure out if they will work for your hair.” Here, we tap top hair experts to shed light on the difference between volumizing and thickening products, so you know how to find the best products for your hair.

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Thicker Hair: What to Look For

Products that use the word “thicker,” tend to help change the diameter of your individual hair strands, explains Emmanuel. Think about when you gather your hair into a ponytail. Do you want that collective bunch of hair to feel thicker? Celebrity hairstylist Franck Izquierdo, cofounder of IGK Hair Care, says products designed to make hair thicker typically contain ingredients that coat the hair shaft, such as peptides and liquid collagen. “They add bulk and make each strand feel and appear thicker. These products are ideal for individuals with fine or thin hair who desire more noticeable density. They are also beneficial for those looking to add weight to their hair to achieve styles that require a bit more structure. I recommend IGK Body Language Rice Water Plumping and Thickening Mist.”

Biotin is one of the most widely used ingredients in products for thicker hair, as well as supplements. However, research suggests that unless you are deficient in biotin, taking a supplement will not do much. Emmanuel says other ingredients that help thicken strands include palmetto, lavender essential oil, green tea extract and rosemary essential oil. Rice protein and peptides are also used in many formulas to bulk up the hair for a thicker look and feel.

Emmanuel adds that thickening formulas are also great for people with thinning hair. “One example is Rogaine, which is formulated for androgenetic alopecia,” she says. “This form of alopecia occurs when terminal hairs—healthy, thick strands of hair—slowly shrink and turn into thin strands of hair called vellus hairs. When this happens, you can use Rogaine to prevent this shrinkage or miniaturization from taking place. If you notice hair loss, see a dermatologist specializing in hair loss and a doctor or trichologist. It’s best to find out the underlying cause before using any hair-loss treatments.”

Fuller Hair: What to Look For

Products that claim to make strands “fuller” have the goal of enhancing volume and adding body to the hair. “These products give the appearance of more hair and are a temporary solution,” Emmanuel says. “They are very popular for people with fine hair.” Nioxin stylist Seamus McKernan adds, “Anyone who has limp hair that won’t hold a hairstyle should use these types of products. They will help add spring to the hair and aid in holding styles.”

Fuller hair looks more voluminous from root to tip, says Izquierdo. “It is often achieved by creating lift at the roots and enhancing the natural movement of the hair,” he explains. “Products that promote fullness are perfect for anyone with flat or limp hair seeking a more dynamic and voluminous style. These products often include volumizing and texturizing sprays, such as IGK Pick Me Maximum Lift Root Boost Spray.” Key ingredients used in hair care to boost fullness include volumizing polymers, proteins and other agents.

Hair Products That Do Both: Thicken and Add Fullness

Many hair products share the goal of thicker hair and fuller hair. “These dual-benefit products are formulated to enhance the diameter of each hair strand while also boosting overall volume and body,” Izquierdo explains. “For example, volumizing mousses and thickening sprays often contain a blend of ingredients that both plump up individual strands and create lift at the roots. I recommend IGK Big Time Volume and Thickening Mousse ($31). These types of products are excellent for achieving a full-bodied, thicker appearance that looks naturally bouncy and voluminous.”

igk big time mousse



Most Nioxin products help increase thickness and fullness simultaneously, notes McKernan. “My favorite go-to is Nioxin Diamax Advanced ($55), which thickens the hair by protecting hair against breakage,” he says. “This allows it to grow longer, and gives hair instant fullness. This is a wearable treatment that can be used as a styler, and it always stays in my tool kit!”

Nioxin diamax advanced



There are also many cases where the terms “thicker” and “fuller” are used interchangeably. “One example is V&Co. Beauty’s Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner ($8 each),” says Emmanuel. “The goal is not to thicken the diameter of hair strands, bur rather add fullness and increase their volume. However, these products are also dual-purpose. They are also designed for people with thick hair to maintain the overall health of their hair.” 


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