I've had thin, flat hair my whole life—here's 6 expert tips on how to add hair volume without fuss

World-renowned hairstylist, Sam McKnight MBE, shares his tips

Cropped view of a young woman with the wind in her hair
(Image credit: Getty Images/pixdeluxe)

If you've ever read anything I've written about beauty, you'll know hair volume is an issue for me. My hair is super-long, thin, fine and undeniably flat. Some might even call it lifeless. It can't hold a curl (even when I'm using the very best curling wands), remains flat to my head even if I've utilised a specific hairstyle for thin hair and even struggles to hold volume when I use specialised products for thin hair.

In doesn't help that I'm also particularly lazy when it comes to styling my hair. I don't want to spend hours trying to add body to my lengths all for it to, inevitably, be a waste of time. Having said that, there is one hairstylist in my little black book who I trust implicitly when it comes to adding volume to my hair in a matter of minutes—someone who fully accepts low-maintenance hair styling needs and the desire for volume. That man is world-renowned hairstylist (seriously, he even worked on Princess Diana's look), Sam McKnight MBE.

Acting senior beauty editor Shannon Lawlor showing her thin hair

(Image credit: Shannon Lawlor)

Knowing that I'm probably not alone in my hair volume issues, I thought it might be beneficial to share some of Sam's top hair volume tips. They're simple, take no more than a few minutes and make all of the difference to how thin and flat hair looks—trust me, I've seen these tips in action.

So, here goes, the 6 best hair volume tips I've ever come across as a beauty editor, courtesy of Sam McKnight MBE.

1. Avoid nourishing hair products

As somebody with severely bleached lengths, it's hard for me to not reach for super-nourishing shampoos and conditioners—but Sam says if you want hair volume it's best to steer clear. "Using the right hair care will give your hair the right foundation to create volume. Your haircare should not weigh your hair down," he says. 

If you're getting ready for a particular event where you want your hair to be looking its voluminous best, hold off the deep conditioners. "Now isn’t the time for deeply nourishing care or that incredible repairing treatment. Save it for the day after."

2. Rinse hair really thoroughly after washing

In similar vein to the above tip, it's also really important to make sure hair is washed thoroughly and that all product is properly rinsed from the hair in order to avoid weighing it down. "Double cleanse to ensure you thoroughly clean hair and rinse, rinse and rinse again. Not rinsing your hair properly and leaving any residue from the shampoo and conditioner can leave your hair flat, dull and heavy," says Sam.

3. Flip your parting

It sounds simple, I know, but this tip is definitely one of the easiest ways to add instant hair volume. "Flip your parting. Go from a middle parting to the side. Just move it from how you normally wear it—it's instant," says Sam. 

4. Put your hair in a top knot

This is easily one of the best hair volume hacks I've ever been taught, and it's totally changed the game for me. "Need a quick instant lift and texture? After blowdrying with a volumising spray (Hair by Sam McKnight Superlift is great), twist your hair softly into a topknot and secure with a clip or a soft-silk band so it doesn't dent. Leave it while you get ready and, just before you head out the door, take it out," advises Sam. "Your hair has cooled from the warm hair dryer while up, and it gives a little wave, some texture and keeps the root lift." And I can confirm, this one works.

5. Use a texturising mist

I know we've already said that keeping heavy product to a minimum is key, but a volumising mist (not a spritz or spray) is an exception to the rule—you just have to make sue it's lightweight. Opting for a mist means the product is dispersed more finely throughout hair and avoids overloading it in areas. "Flip your head upside down, give it a good brush from roots to ends and mist in a hardworking but lightweight mist, like Hair By Sam McKnight Cool Girl Barely There Texture Mist, and flip it back. It's my on-shoot instant hair hack for volume and thicker-looking hair," reveals Sam.

6. Blowdry hair upside down

This is a hair volume hack I've been using for some time now. "Tip your hair upside down when blowdrying to get volume before smoothing mid lengths and ends with a brush," says Sam. "Blowdry your roots in the opposite direction to which they fall, so in most cases think straight up! Unless you have very thick , coarse, frizzy or unruly hair, take the nozzle off the hairdryer. It concentrates the flow of air,  smoothing and can flatten the hair," he adds.

The key, he once told me, is to make sure the hair has properly cooled before you flip your head back over. If the roots are still hot, any lift you've created will soon drop—cooling first will set the hair with the volume you've just created.

Shannon Lawlor
Executive Beauty Editor

Shannon Lawlor is the Executive Beauty Editor at Marie Claire. With nearly a decade of experience working for some of the beauty industry’s most esteemed titles, including Who What Wear, Glamour UK, Stylist and Refinery29, Shannon’s aim is to make the conversation around beauty as open, relatable and honest as possible. As a self-confessed lazy girl, Shannon has an affinity for hard-working perfumes, fool-proof make-up products and does-it-all skincare.