Medically reviewed by Mary Lucas, RN
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 3/9/2022
Whether you’re noticing some age-related hair thinning or you just want your beautiful hair to appear thicker and healthier, figuring out how to add volume to hair for men can be tricky.
More often than not, it involves a multi-pronged approach that can include everything from lifestyle changes to medication.
Luckily, like most things in life, understanding how to approach the problem puts solving it within reach.
Defining the term volume in relation to hair is important to the discussion, so let’s start there.
Hair “volume” is a term used to describe or measure two things: the literal number of hairs covering your scalp, and how those hairs fill a space — a desired cut or look.
Hair volume is determined by the number of hairs on your head, how they cover the flesh of your scalp and how the fibers of your hair grow and stay resilient to breakage and splitting.
Hair volume may also be a result of the diameter of your hair strands. Fiber diameter can be an indicator of receding or thinning hair, and so changes in hair volume are often spotted when people note changes in their hair texture or thickness at the scalp level.
Hair volume can be impacted by a number of factors that can change it both permanently and temporarily. Someone with curly hair may generally have more volume than someone with straight hair, and wet hair tends to appear more matted or flat than hair that’s dry and voluminous.
Whether you know it or not, volume plays a large part in how you look at, style, see and present your own hair.
For instance, if you have frizzy hair or naturally curly hair, you may want to tame those curls to reduce your volume. Likewise, a person with thin hair or wispy hair may want to improve density with productions or treatments to affect the way their thinner hair looks.
A person with curly hair may wish to use a straightener to tone down their volume, while a person with thin hair may wish to strengthen it enough that they can curl it or style it to add more volume. People with curly hair may use relaxers, while people with straight hair may use curling irons.
The reality in all of this is that your hair’s volume only matters insofar as it affects how you want to look.
There are a variety of ways to add volume — or the appearance of volume — to your hair, including products, treatments, styling tools and more.
Depending on the treatment, your volume may last weeks, days or minutes if you’re caught in the rain at the wrong time. There are some commonly used methods of adding volume including:
Hair sprays, gels and other products
Volumizing shampoo and thickening shampoos
Sticking your finger in an electrical socket like in the cartoons
Generally speaking, some of these are not the best ideas, and most of them either give you the temporary appearance of volume or short-term volume with long-term consequences (oh, and one of them can kill you — do not put your finger in an electrical socket).
Instead, the boring — but accurate — answer to this question is really just to take the best care of your hair that you can. Healthy hair is able to grow bigger, fuller and denser, and over time, hair that hasn’t been damaged will start to look great — especially if you’ve been mistreating it for some time.
Here are a few tips to guide you down the right path:
Washing your hair too aggressively can lead to breakage and other issues that won’t do you any favors in getting the volume you’re looking for.
Experts recommend focusing on washing your scalp and letting the hair itself get washed in the process.
Those oils are the front-line protection to keep your hair from breaking, which leads to shorter, thinner hair.
One thing you shouldn’t use? A blow dryer. Let your damp hair air dry to keep it healthy and prevent more serious burned, dry hair problems.
If you must use a hair dryer, choose the lowest heat setting. But if you can avoid it altogether, all the better.
If you’re having volume issues, you might assume that the solution is to go big and bold with your styling. But as much as a mohawk might look voluminous, putting that much product in it may actually damage it.
The same goes for chemical and heat-based styling tools and treatments, which can damage and break your hair more than they’ll ever improve your appearance.
Making your hair look full may be a bigger challenge than some routine changes, particularly if you’re seeing a sudden loss of volume due to hair loss.
When considering hair loss treatments, there are a few options for men. You should absolutely speak with a healthcare provider before going rogue on hair loss treatments, particularly if your hair loss is sudden, as a bigger problem might be causing hair loss than genetics.
These two medications are effective for different reasons, so you may want to consider one or both.
On the other hand, finasteride helps increase your hair volume by controlling your body’s supply of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (also known as DHT).
DHT has been identified as a major player in male pattern baldness, which means stopping your body from converting testosterone into it is crucial to keeping the hair you have — and keeping that hair healthy and thriving.
If you're looking for a sure-fire hair product to make your hair look voluminous and beautiful straight out of the box, we have bad news for you: hair doesn't work that way.
Whether you're in the midst of a fight with male pattern baldness, another cause of hair thinning or simply searching for the volume you've wanted all your life, it may take more than a jar or bottle of the right volumizing products to get what you want.
Either way, your first move is talking to a medical professional about your concerns. Volume is great, but peace of mind about what's going on up top is the best thing for your head — inside and out.