Side volume for comparison

The Holy Grail for fine-haired women!

I have fine, fine, baby hair. If you have such hair and you’re ok with it then I’m thrilled for you, but I can only describe my hair as thin and also crappy. Realising the LIE of most famous women’s hair- that even a full barnet is usually enhanced by extensions, I’m looking at you Kate Middleton- has helped my pain a little. But the fact remains that my hair is poker-straight, ‘lank’ is not too harsh a word most days, and it’s prone to being weighed down by product so it’s a constant balancing act to get the combination right. And even when that happens, an hour later it’s flat-to-head.

When I went for a haircut November last year and asked for ‘shoulder-length’, I was nearly inconsolable when she cut it to my chin. It’s not a flattering length on me, having such a round face, and it meant losing a good 6-8 inches, around half of which I had not intended to lose. “Oh well”, I thought, “at least I’ll be able to get some volume in my hair again”. NU-UH. Taking care of my hair, regularly colouring it, and using decent products means that my mane is as healthy as it’s ever been, which makes it even more difficult to style. If that sounds illogical, just think about how much easier it is to get volume and texture into hair with broken bits and messed-up hair shafts. Stupid healthy hair was doing me no favours.

Not the length I wanted, but at least she gave me a terrible blow-dry as well!
Not the length I wanted, but at least she gave me a terrible blow-dry as well! FLAT.

With the exception of following the advice of the hairdresser who proclaimed to 15 year old me that “only a perm will help!”, I have tried almost everything. I dry my hair upside-down, which for me has always got the closest to root-lift that I’ll ever see, but for a special occasion I’ll get the Remington Big Hair out. It’s not a game-changer but I find it using at the just-drier-than-towel-dried stage, with a blowdry lotion or spray can have a good lifting result. Never use mousse with the Big Hair though, or you’l end up with a knot the size of your fist.

When it comes to volumising shampoos and conditioners, I have used A LOT of them, cheap and pricey. Whenever I think something is making a difference, it’s not long before the effect wears off and I’m back to limp hair. I have tried all the usual suspects: Bumble & Bumble, Ojon, Philip Kingsley, Percy & Reed, most of the brands they sell in Boots. Until recently, I was exclusive with TIGI Bed Head Epic Volume and we were very happy together. It makes my hair marginally more voluminous than not using it, and by buying the large 750ml sizes, it’s actually insanely cheap and convenient too. But it’s not the change I want to see in the world.

I like this stuff, but at £21 for the two I think it represents good value too...
I like this stuff, and at £22 for the two I think it represents good value too…

In the last month (six weeks probably) there have been two main things that have changed. The first is that after a year of trying to grow my hair to shoulder-length, I’ve realised that I need to give in and live with the bob. I got the first haircut that I’ve been happy with for aaaages (thanks weird Chris at the Toni & Guy near work…) and I finally tried L’Oreal Fibrology. I’m not going to go on about it but after Sali Hughes recommended Firbology and I realised that I’d been using the Thickness Booster too often in the shower (it’s only supposed to be twice a week), I am now very impressed by the results. But shampoo and conditioner alone can only do so much. I need much, much more…

The much more is styling product. Before I do anything, I prep with a primer. I know this sounds like a needless step but I genuinely have found that it helps my ‘style’ to have staying power. It’s not a cheap product but a very small amount goes a long way (yes, really) and although the Living Proof one has achieved cult status, lots of people prefer Percy & Reed Perfectly Perfecting Wonder Balm and I bloody love it.

I know it's £18, but I got mine free from a magazine... If in doubt, buy from QVC so you can send it back if you hate it
I know it’s £18, but I got mine free from a magazine… If in doubt, buy from QVC so you can send it back if you hate it

Too much mousse will overload my hair and ultimately make it greasy, but lotions, sprays, volumising oil, and the like just aren’t enough to get any real hold into my hair. I’ve tried combinations of products for years but when I finally stumbled across TIGI Bed Head Small Talk (currently £7.99) and gave it a go, I realised that the consistency is different to anything I’ve tried before. It’s got a sticky, elastic quality to it that bouffs up my hair; the first time I used it was a revelation and it has been ever since. You can even get a mini travel version for around a fiver, but you have to keep looking as it often sells out.


The Small Talk is good teamed with TIGI Bed Head Superstar Queen for a Day Thickening Spray, but it’s awesome teamed with £1.49 super-product, Boots Essential Extra Firm Hold Mousse.  When Sali Hughes recommended it on her 50 Best Beauty Buys Under £20 earlier this year, I could not have been more cynical, but this stuff is a freaking god-send. The staying power of a mousse, with the weird elastic alien consistency of the Small Talk, is a winning combination and I can see the actual root-lift hours later. Try it- I beg you.

Straight after blow-drying. Yes, I have a vest on
Straight after blow-drying. Yes, I have a vest on

Just before I blow-dry (upside down, and after my fringe has been done separately) I use a teeny bit of the L’Oreal Fibrology Serum on my ends. It makes me feel like I’m fully committing to the Fibrology regime, and having my ends a bit silkier so I can straighten them helps give my hair the illusion of thickness. I want root lift, but wispy ends can undermine your whole effort.

Quite a good fringe...
Quite a good fringe…

After blow-drying, I tip my head upside-down and spray some VO5 Plump It Up Dry Backcomb Spray (a bargain product that lasts forever) or Colab Dry Shampoo, which I’ve stockpiled at home. I also really like TRESemme Texture Style Devine Definition Spray for adding a little definition to my layers, but you must be sparing with it. A light spray, at about half arm’s length, leave it a few seconds then run your fingers through your layers. I then, of course, finish with hairspray. I’m a die-hard TREsemme Freeze Spray fan but a lighter hairspray in this case is no bad thing. I like Fudge Skyscraper, which is around £9 but cheaper stuff will do just as well, I’m sure.

And finally, the acid test. Does my hair, after the commute, windy London, and a day in the office, still have a bit of oomph left? Yes, for THE FIRST TIME EVER, I can confirm that my hair actually has some life at 5pm. Those with genuinely fine hair will know how rare this is. I am going to stockpile all of these babies! Never. Going. Back.

Hours later! Crap picture, but baby fine hair that still has some life
Hours later! Crap picture, but baby fine hair that still has some life
Why so surprised...?
Why so surprised…?
Side volume for comparison
Side volume for comparison
Category: Life, Style