If you feel like you’re constantly pumping thickening products into your roots, only for them to fall flat mere minutes later, you likely need to take a few steps back.
The road to thick, full hair actually starts in the shower – specifically, with a shampoo for fine hair.
As Louise Garbutt, Creative Director at Aveda Gina Conway explains, the secret to a great volumising shampoo isn’t necessarily what’s added – it’s what’s not in there. ‘Try to avoid silicone or polymers, especially in fine hair,’ she says. ‘They weigh the hair down by coating each strand in a plastic-like substance, so it might feel silky but will probably look limp. Check the ingredients list for anything ending in “-cone”.’
If this sounds familiar, Garbutt recommends using a clarifying shampoo once a week, to remove the build-up. (We love Living Proof’s charcoal-based Triple Detox formula.)However, finding the best shampoo for fine hair is only the first step – next, you need to refine your washing technique. According to Garbutt, one of the primary reasons we don’t see success from volumising products is placement: remember, shampoo in the roots, and conditioner only on the mid-lengths and ends. ‘Also, always shampoo with warm water to open the cuticle, then rinse the conditioner with cool water, until it runs completely clear,’ she says.
Below, see the shampoos for fine hair that have been approved by team ELLE – and we’re a very fussy bunch.
The Best Volumising Shampoo For Fine Hair
1.John Frieda Volume Lift Shampoo
Hair legends John Frieda gave their iconic volume range a fresh new makeover last year. The outside might be new and unknown, but the inside is the hardworking, root-lifting, gentle volume-giving formula we know and love.
2. Kérastase Resistance Bain Volumifique Thickening Shampoo
Kérastase’s volumising shampoo, specially formulated for fine hair, is a stand-out. If your hair gets greasy too quickly, this will deeply cleanse from root to tip without leaving your ends feeling parched. It’s ideal for anyone with thin hair who doesn’t want to compromise on hydration, and the finished result is textured body that doesn’t look or feel crispy. In fact, it’ll impart a shine like no other.
3. Aveda Pure Abundance Volumising Shampoo
If you like your products to be on the natural side but still want them to deliver the goods, then Aveda’s long-loved, volume-boosting shampoo is well worth a whirl. The plant-based formula contains coconut-derived surfactants (which are not the same thing as SLS), that deliver a supreme lather, sweeping away every last trace of oil and product residue.
This one lends fine hair a touch of weightless nourishment, so you can use it on its own. However, we reckon the coordinating kaolin-infused conditioner is too good to skip.
4. Virtue Full Shampoo
Science-y brand Virtue uses a human-identical form of keratin in its advanced formulas, meaning the hair recognises it and knows exactly how to put it to good use. This super-lightweight volumising shampoo leaves hair clean while swelling lacklustre strands, but it’s the long-term nourishing benefits that make it really worthwhile.
5. Grow Gorgeous Volume Bodifying Shampoo
This lightweight shampoo is packed with caffeine to awaken roots and allantoin to treat your scalp, preventing dryness and irritation. Proteins and peptides work together to strengthen hair, while coconut-based surfactants deliver a truly satisfying lather. Team it with the matching conditioner for lifted roots as well as noticeably shinier lengths.
6. Bumble and Bumble Thickening Shampoo
Do you spend what feels like hours styling and curling your hair, only for it to drop out moments later? We feel you. Thankfully though, Bumble and Bumble’s volumising shampoo is on hand. It’ll give hair enough guts to hold styles for much longer, while injecting it with an impressive fullness usually only attainable via a professional blow-dry.
For maximum results, follow with the conditioner and spritz roots with the world-famous Thickening Treatment once dry.
7. Philip Kingsley Body Building Shampoo
This trichologist-developed shampoo is easily one of the best for volumising fine hair. It contains strengthening keratin as well as natural cellulose, which plumps the surface of each hair fibre to make them appear instantly thicker and bouncier.
Side note: the brand’s line of specialist root-boosting products is also worth trying. Head straight for the Tricho Pro Volumizing Protein Spray.
8. Living Proof Full Shampoo
This is the best choice for fine hair that’s subjected to a lot of styling products – dry-shampoo addicts, we’re talking to you. Not only will it deeply cleanse overloaded roots, sweeping away every last trace of oil, grease and residue, but it’ll leave your lengths feeling noticeably swishier. It’s not the most moisturising of shampoos, but that’s what the matching conditioner is for.
9. Davines Volu Shampoo
If you’ve found volumising shampoos to be too stripping in the past, consider this ultra-gentle offering from Davines. It lathers satisfyingly well, thanks to the coconut-based surfactants, and seems to plump hair up right down to the ends – rather than focusing solely on the roots.
ELLE Beauty Lab Picks
To assess which volumising shampoos gave some added oomph to different hair types, we also tested a variety of different brands in the ELLE lab.
How we test
In the ELLE Lab, we asked our panel of 700 testers to try a range of shampoos and their matching conditioners for between one and two months.
Their hair textures ranged from straight to afro, and the products tested all claimed to tackle at least one of the three main concerns for fine hair: hair breakage, hair volume and lacklustre roots.
Testers noted any changes they saw to the overall condition of their hair and scalp over the trial, as well as how hair felt after each wash. For hair thickening shampoos, they also assessed how much fuller their hair looked, as well as if they created more volume, body and lift at the roots.
To make sure they actually worked, we conducted two lab tests; one was to assess anti-breakage shampoos by combing through hair switches that were treated with the product(s) and comparing them to untreated hair switches. The easier the treated switches were to comb, the less risk of hair breakages and fall out in real life.
The other was to test thickening and root stimulating shampoos. Our experts did this using a Hair Metrix machine, to analyse the effect each shampoo had on hair density and thickness.
1. Virtue Flourish Shampoo for Thinning Hair
This duo from Virtue aims to boost hair strength and volume using a range of keratin proteins. But can a shampoo really do both? Well, it’s a resounding yes from us; almost our entire panel reported fewer breakages and increased thickness.
Everyone reported less frizz and smoother, shinier strands (without the need for a pro blow dry), with the majority seeing some Beyonce-esque volume too.
2. Redken Extreme Shampoo
This colourful combo uses pH-balancing formulas to strengthen and fortify hair, with a bold claim of leaving strands three times stronger.
We found the shampoo provided a thorough yet gentle clean and once dried hair had some impressive volume at the roots. It even boosted vibrancy for most testers, with everyone saying it left their scalps less itchy.
3. Dr Barbara Sturm Anti-Hair Fall Shampoo
You can’t create volume if the hair isn’t there to begin with, which is where this shampoo comes in. Jam-packed with vitamin B5 and hyaluronic acid, it kept shedding to a minimum and reduced the look of everyone’s split ends.
Testers reported a refreshed feeling after each wash, with many saying their tresses felt kitten-soft. The majority of our testers also said hair looked thicker after the trial, making it well worth the splurge.
4. L’Oréal Professionnel Serioxyl Clarifying & Densifying Shampoo
We’ll admit, this isn’t the prettiest shampoo bottle out there (yes, it’s a requirement to gain a space in our bathroom) but it won’t put a dent in your bank balance (hello, cost of living crisis) and more importantly, it works wonders on hair.
The shampoo contains resveratrol (known for its anti-inflammatory properties) and showed impressive results in our lab test for improving hair density and thickness. Testers saw added fullness to their roots too, with most saying it helped with thinning hair.
5. Noughty Get Set Grow Thickening Shampoo
Containing 97% natural ingredients (including coffee beans and pea sprouts), this formula aims to boost hydration and volume.
Impressively, we found it helped combat shedding and breakages for most of our testers, with the majority seeing stronger, fuller strands by the end of the trial. There were also fewer split ends, with one tester describing a more “plumped” appearance to their hair.
6. Philip Kingsley Density Thickening Shampoo
Providing a gentle exfoliation to leave your scalp happy, this duo proved to be a pro at quenching thirsty strands, leaving hair looking healthier.
Testers saw less fallout and fewer breakages, while it also reduced frizz and made strands easier to brush through. Plus, some gravity-defying volume (well, almost) was seen at roots. Not bad.
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