October 3, 2022

taylor hill

Crafting an updo when you don’t have thick texture to begin with can be a challenging feat. But here at Byrdie, we’re not afraid of a good beauty challenge. There are plenty of tricks that can help finer strands pull off the illusion of volume, texture, and movement rather than channeling a disappearing act. The next time you want to dress up your strands, you can turn to this list for ideas and tips to help guide you on that journey.

Keep reading for 30 of our favorite updo ideas for thin hair.

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Playfully Parted Ponytail

playfully parted ponytail
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Here’s an easy hair style that’s been nabbed straight from the runway—a playfully parted ponytail. Your best tool to achieving this look is going to be your rat tail comb for nailing those precise lines.

Use hair powder or eyeshadow that matches your hair color to fill in any areas where the scalp is peeking through other than the partings. This will give the illusion of fullness and help define those strong, clean partings.

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Ditch the Parting

Zendaya in a slicked back ponytail
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Eliminating your usual parting and bringing the hair fully back can help your ‘do appear fuller by avoiding any peaks of the scalp and potentially exposing just how close it might be to the surface.

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Create Contrast

Greta Girwig half up hair style
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Allowing for some contrast in the hair will provide a guide for the eyes to follow. This half-up style’s overdirected side parting gives volume up top in contrast to its sleeked back sides and stick straight ends below.

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Origami Buns

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Creating shape(s) in the hair is a beautiful way to add dimension to finer strands. This is especially fun when creating an updo with the help of hair extensions. You can tape or clip a small weft of extra length around any ponytail and scrunch it up into a figure 8 to create similar origami style buns, like the ones seen here. Secure your buns in the center with a hair elastic, but don’t forget to add a fun accent to cover that elastic up, like some gold or silver cord.

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Added Texture

fishtail braid
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When you have thin strands, you always want to begin by prepping the hair with added texture before crafting your updo. Blow-dry an even layer of volumizing mousse or primer into dry or wet hair from roots to ends, over directing your hair from side to side and flipping your head upside down to help create lift at the roots while you dry.

Once the product is fully dry, turn to Bumble & Bumble’s Dry Spun Thickening Spray—this is a must-have product that will plump up fine strands and give them texture. This prep work will not only thicken up your fishtail or any other braid you create to then swirl up into a low bun, but it’s also guaranteed to give you transformative results.

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Hair Freckles

hair freckles in fishtail braid
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Add some bling to your pulled back ‘do by adhering stick-on pearls or gemstones scattered throughout the hair. This freckled look adds a hint of decadence, but still plays it cool.

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Messy Movement

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To add that perfectly messy movement to your updo, spray an even layer of BedHead by Tigi’s Queen For A Day throughout the hair while damp or dry, and blow dry the product in well. You’ll notice an immediate shift in those fine strands, with more grit and hold for styling and a plumper, fuller all-around look. Finish the hair off with a little Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray and flip your hair around to get that imperfect parting to match.

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Adorn Your ‘Do

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If your updo is taking you somewhere, give it a little extra something special. A flurry of florals—fresh or faux—is an excellent addition to your average chignon. And the best part is, there’s truly no learning curve or specialty to the way you bring your hair up and back. Let the adornments take center stage while you cruise through the lack of styling effort.

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Front Pouf

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Front poufs, or “bumps,” may have had their moment in time circa the early 2000s, but for finer strands, this look never really leaves the repertoire. A little backcombing secured with bobby pins is too easy a fix to toss to the curb. Whip this fad out to help frame your updo with a little extra “oomph.”

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Wrap Around Pony

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This is a classic bubble ponytail without the bubbles, and it’s a great updo option for fine hair at medium to long lengths. Ditch the teased up sections for a clean, chic take on this fashion-forward ponytail. The trick to wearing this look on fine hair is adding a point of interest over your elastics. Instead of sparing those thin, precious strands to wrap around each base, bring in some reinforcements like the gold cord seen here.

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Fluffy Volume

Hillary Duff fluffy volume ponytail
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To get that effortlessly airy texture into your updos, distribute a soft hold volumizing mousse and place flat duck bill clips or no-crease clips vertically around the hairline to hold the hair up as you diffuse. The clips will help keep those roots lifted while the heat alters your hair into the desired form, creating a voluminous base for your updo.

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Sculpted High Bun

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Tight and sleek high buns are a great updo option for thin hair. Wrap your hair into a few different twists using a styling cream to help it stay smooth and tame. These twists will give your topknot a sculpted, dimensional look.

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Consider Your Cut

Saoirse Ronan's choppy bangs
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When you have fine hair, the haircut you have is of the utmost importance. Blunt ends, layers, and even bangs can be of huge assistance in keeping your hair lively and looking its best, no matter how you style it.

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Space Buns

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You may not have a ton of hair for two thick, braided space buns, but these little guys seen here prove a ton of hair isn’t needed to look super cute. When all else fails, don’t hesitate to braid a weft of hair in! It’s an easy option with no strings (or clips) attached.

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Pompadours

pompadour hairstyle on Kristen Stewart
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A pompadour is such a fun style to play around with, and works especially well on shorter lengths. Use some thickening spray and a brush or comb to lift the roots up and away from the scalp. If you want more of a curled and controlled look like the one seen here, turn to your round brush to direct your desired movement. Finalize the look by bringing the sides back for contrast and securing with a strong hold hairspray.

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Wispy Waves

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Did you know that a flat iron could give you those hints of imperfect bends in the hair? Pinch a section of your hair and gently push it up to create a “C” shape, then tap it with the flat iron. Alternate the direction of your “C” as you move down the section. This is a simple, foolproof way to lock in a subtle wave.

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Braided Details

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Add a face-framing braid along the hairline before throwing your hair into a casual low ponytail or bun, and you have yourself an event-worthy updo.

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Woven Head Scarf

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We know naturally curly texture doesn’t always fall into the category of thin hair, but here’s a great style tip that does apply: Styling your updo with a woven-in head scarf will add some density to your ‘do, helping the overall style appear a little bit thicker.

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Sleek and Simple

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Keep your updo sleek and simple with a clean parting and zero flyaways in sight. A little pomade around the edges and some hairspray all around, when laid down with a small toothbrush (for hair only, of course), will give you those smooth, flyaway-free updos.

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Detailed Hairline

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Detailing your hairline with clips, barrettes, or even a micro braid is a simple effort that goes a long way and sophisticates any stylized updo, while still being fun and playful.

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Sexy Silhouettes

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You don’t always need a ton of hair to be pulled back to create a great updo with fine strands. This modernized beehive offers a sexy silhouette with the perfect amount of volume and gritty texture.

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Romantic Curls

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Fine hair often doesn’t have a lot of natural movement, but that doesn’t make curls and waves impossible to achieve. By using a small barrel curling iron that’s roughly 3/8″-3/4″ in size, carefully wrap small sections of hair around the barrel from roots to ends.

When you finish with a full head of ringlets, use your brush to separate and loosen the coils. This will give your hair full, fluffy movement all over. You can even back-brush the curls for more body, and twist it loosely into a thickened top knot for a romantic look like the one seen here.

Back-brushing your curls will create more body and texture in the hair, creating a perfect foundation for any updo.

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Statement Piece

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Statement pieces will always dress up an effortless updo, even on the thinnest of hair. A headband, a ribbon, a huge clip, a barrette, or a hairpin: All of these options are easy standouts that make your styling efforts minimal without compromising a finished look.

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Position Your Ponytail

Bella Hadid ponytail
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Now, don’t take this image literally—we realize braided locks are not a go-to style for fine haired strands. Instead, note the positioning of the ponytail. Creating a high ponytail with thin hair—and I’m talking high, as seen here, between the hairline and crown of the head—is a playful illusion that will only do you favors.

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Hidden Bases

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When creating an updo on thinner hair, it can be helpful to create a base for your ‘do. By bringing up the bottom half of your strands into a small, barely there bun, you then give the top half something to pin into. Use that top half section to make twists and knots: Get creative in hiding that bun below and you’ll have a style that looks full of interest (and full of hair) in no time.

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Front and Center

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Similar to pompadours and poufs, this sectioned style brings our attention front and center. Braiding or knotting a center section is an easy way to provide lift where fine hair is normally lacking.

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Stacked Buns

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Stacking two buns together will make it appear like there’s more hair to spare. Line each side with small accents like these velvet ribbons to help hide your parting.

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’90s Sprouts

spiky updo
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This ’90s style throwback of sleek roots and spiky ends is sure to add interest to your fine-haired updo. Use a water based pomade and flat brush to slick the hair back nice and tight, adding a pinch of pomade between your fingers to help give your ends that piece-y, spiky finish.

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Tiny Tendrils

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When you have fine strands, they often come with a lack of texture and body. If you lust over this tiny tendril updo on hair idol Zazie Beetz, try this on for size: Place your hair in a high, tight ponytail. Then, use a very small curling iron—a 9 mm or 10 mm barrel size—and carefully wrap thin sections of your ponytail around the barrel. Once you have a full ponytail of tiny tendrils, use a wide tooth comb to rake out the curls and pin them artfully, bringing all that new movement forward.

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Flipped Out

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Trying to add volume all the time can get tiring. Instead, opt to make your ends the showstopper of your updo by flipping them out of your pigtails, buns, or ponytails.