So many of us try to achieve a full volume look or work to keep our hair looking fuller than it really is. There are also ways to achieve volume without using products.
How do volumizing products work?
When it comes to shampoos and conditioners there is no "magic bullet" volumizing ingredient that can be added to amp up the volume. These products actually work by NOT weighing hair down. Some shampoos, and all conditioners, work by leaving a residue on hair which is great if you need conditioning, but this residue can weigh hair down and rob it of volume and body. Volumizing products are designed to leave less "stuff" on your hair so you keep more of the volume you have.
There are other ways to get volume but unfortunately they are also damaging to your hair. You may not realize that coloring your hair is actually an effective way to add volume. This is because the coloring process damages the hair shaft, causing it to swell. This swelling makes hair feel and look fuller. Of course, you are not going to color your hair simply to create volume. Additionally, blow drying and using a curling iron can add volume and body but also rob hair of its moisture and can be damaging when done regularly. Hair friction, which contributes to how manageable your hair is, can affect volume, too. When the hair fibers are rough, as in backcombing, there is more friction between the hair shafts.
Styling products are a better option in your quest to achieve volume. Products like gel, mousse and hairspray use polymer technology which help to "hold" hair in place. When applied at the roots, these products can lift hair away from the scalp, giving the illusion of more body and volume. We find mousse to be one of the most effective volumizing styling tools since the foam is light and less likely to weigh hair down. As mousse dries, the polymers and other coating agents set up a film on your hair strands. Unlike hairsprays that "glue" different hair fibers together, mousse is meant to coat each fiber to give it some stiffness. As the film dries, each hair pushes out against the hair next to it, so overall your hair is left with more volume. Depending on the type of mousse, your hair can feel very conditioned or stiff and crunchy (be sure to look for "volumizing" mousses). Just remember to have a light touch when using styling products, if applied too heavily you can just end up weighing hair down instead of getting the lift you want.
So, what ingredients should you use to achieve volume? Look for proteins like wheat, starches like rice and corn, anionic and cationic polymers, which bind to the hair for fullness. When shopping for a volumizer, make sure you're getting a product right for your hair type; each hair type responds differently. Finer hair works best with gel-based volumizers because they don't weigh the hair down and mousses also work well. If you have medium to thick hair, try a spray. Since sprays are a bit stronger, they give more volume, and you can concentrate more of the product at the root without worrying about weighing hair down.
Unfortunately, there are no perfect solutions in the search for volume but there are some options. Styling products, when used properly, can certainly give the lift you want. Coloring and styling tools are also effective but be sure to take care of your hair by using a conditioner (just the ends, avoid the roots!) and get regular trims to keep hair looking healthy!