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by Better Not Younger May 30, 2020

Thickening and volumizing — Many beauty magazines and advertisers use the terms synonymously when referencing shampoos, but are they the same?

There is a definitional difference between volumizing and thickening:

  • Volume measures three-dimensional spaces; to volumize is to add fullness.
  • Thick is the space between sides; to thicken is to make wider.

How do these definitions apply to your hair and, more importantly, to the shampoo you use? By and large, volumizing shampoo concerns your entire head of hair while thickening shampoo treats your hair strands.

What is the difference between thickening and volumizing shampoos? Maybe it is how each shampoo cares for your thin, fine, aging hair biology.

The Difference Between Thin Hair and Fine Hair

Your hair follicles are a tube-shaped structure in the outer layer of your scalp and determine the density of your hair strands. Your hair begins life at the bottom of your hair follicle. Your hair root is constructed of protein cells and is sustained by blood vessels nearby. Hair grows out of the skin as more cells form. Closeby sebaceous glands create sebum oil which conditions your skin and hair.

In their younger years, women have about 80,000-120,000 hairs on their heads, and they usually lose about 100 each day. As you age, less blood reaches your follicles, your glands produce less sebum, and follicles go dormant. The amount of hair you lose each day goes way up, causing:

  • Thin hair — more space on the scalp between the active follicles, and more gaps between the strands themselves.

Furthermore, your still-active follicles contract producing:

  • Fine hair — hair shafts with slim diameters. Each of your growth cycles produces finer hair than the one previous.

What Is Thickening Shampoo?

Thickening shampoo is meant to eliminate hair gaps by thickening hair strands. While some products include ingredients that promote hair growth, most of them work by creating the illusion of thickness by temporarily plumping up the strands.

How Thickening Shampoo Targets Your Strands

Some thickening shampoos aim to solve your thin hair woes by infusing your locks and scalp with a protein and vitamin to wick in moisture for added width. Other shampoo companies use polymer ingredients to achieve the same effect. After rinsing away the shampoo, the coat left behind makes your strands look and feel more expansive.

Thickening Shampoo Disappointments

Many women suffer disappointment in their thickening shampoo because they may be unsure of why it does not work.

The Results Are Temporary

Like all good things, they come to an end. The thickening layers only stay on until your next shower. If you continue to use these products, the polymer coatings can build up on your hair over time, exacerbating your fine hair’s flatness by packing on weight and tapering bounce.

To restore your hair to its pre-polymer glory, you will need clarifying shampoo to strip away the residue. Unfortunately, the heavy sulfates in clarifying shampoo can abrade and weaken your aging hair’s already fine structure, causing dull, lifeless hair, plagued with split-ends and breakage.

There Are Limits to Your Hair’s Thickening

 A protein called keratin makes up 90% of your hair; the main ingredients in some thickening shampoos are keratin and a B-5 vitamin called panthenol. These two ingredients work in tandem to thicken your hair.

Keratin bolsters and protects your hairs' outer cuticle layer while the B-5 permeates your scalp to generate and attract moisture. Boosted moisture equals bloated strands; however, fine hair has a limit to the amount it can swell, meaning it may not work on your fine and thinning locks, leaving more exposed scalp than you would like.

What Is Volumizing Shampoo?

Rather than bulking the width of your hair, volumizing shampoos produce lift. Your tapered locks tend to lay flat, so fullness is attained by adding three-dimensional body and boosting your hair from the roots.

Volumizing Shampoo Targets Your Scalp

Volume starts at the roots, so volumizing shampoo targets your scalp, follicles, and the base of your hair shafts. Build-up and residue are minimized, providing your hair with bounce and buoyancy.

Volumizing Shampoo Advantages

Many shampoos use harsh sulfates and heavy ingredients that dry out your fine hair and inflame your scalp. Aging changes compound these complexities, leaving you with brittle, thinning hair, prone to breakage.

Volumizing shampoos incorporate ingredients to enhance follicle structure, maximize lift, and clean without leaving residue build-up. For long-term volume, choose Better Not Younger’s Wake Up Call Volumizing Shampoo, formulated for your fine hair’s changing physiology with ingredients like:

  • Argan oil — Argan oil contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and essential nutrients like omega-6 and vitamin E, necessary for healthy hair and skin.
  • Caffeine — The energizing properties of caffeine deliver a jolt to your hair follicles, surging scalp blood flow, and spurring hair growth.
  • Meadowfoam seed oil — Meadowfoam seed oil hydrates your scalp and hair, adds luster, aids in moisture retention, and controls frizz.
  • Biotin — This water-soluble B-vitamin reduces scalp inflammation, improves your hair’s keratin infrastructure, and thickens your mane.
  • Bamboo — With 70% silica, bamboo helps toughen your tresses and shores up moisture retention, making your thin hair appear thicker.
  • Sage — This natural astringent flushes out your follicles and balances scalp oil production, nourishing them engendering new hair growth.

Follow your shampoo regiment with Better Not Younger’s Wake Up Call Volumizing Conditioner and Lift Me Up Hair Thickener spray to lock in extra volume.

Wake Up Call Volumizing Shampoo Makes All the Difference

The nuance between thickening and volumizing shampoos relates to the challenges each is trying to solve. Thickening shampoos create temporary density by swelling strands with polymers and other ingredients.

Shampoos like Better Not Younger’s Wake Up Call Volumizing Shampoo gives you lasting volume and thickness and gently cleanses your hair without harming your delicate cuticles.

Check out our wide variety of sulfate- and paraben-free products on our Better Not Younger Shop page.
Better Not Younger
Better Not Younger


1 Response


June 04, 2020

Thank you for this article. Volumizing versus thickening is a concept that many find confusing. My sister-in-law, who manages a health food store on the other coast, used to send me samples of products they sell, which included hair products. I tried to explain that my hair (at the time) was not “thin” as in thinning, but lacked fullness due to fine hair strands. This was a problem all my life, not just since I’ve gotten older. Now that I am older, I need hair help more than ever, and volumizing seems the way to go.

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