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Tips and Tricks for Difficult to Style Hair

Tips and Tricks for hard to Style Hair

I’m 44 and look young for my age, like early 30’s, but due my hair being fine it goes flat so quickly I tend to just opt for a pony tail and while I can usually get away with it since I look younger, I also feel like I look like I am not trying.

Do you have any suggestions with regards to curling/styling medium, just below shoulder length hair? I find that if I use too low of a temperature it gives no curl, or if I crank up the heat it makes the curls a little too Shirley Temple-ish. Is there a happy medium technique, maybe teasing it to help to make the curl look more natural or polished with some volume?


Oh, how I know your pain. My hair is still growing out from last summer’s bob (I’m just below my shoulders now!), and I’m well into the “hard to style” length. As well, I have a ton of hair, but it is very fine and it tends to weigh itself down by mid-day. Over the years I’ve definitely found a few great ways to keep volume and curl in my hair. Here’s a peek at what has worked best for me.

Prep With Products

The first step is using the right products. I do change up what I put in my hair after washing depending upon how I’m planning to style it, but here’s a look at how I tackle it.

If I’m planning on just blowing out my hair straight, I’ll use product to help add a little volume and to heat protect from the dryer. Usually that means a few sprays of Root Volumizer on my roots (I spray in a few areas and then spread it around with just my fingers) and some Heat Protection Spray on the rest of my hair, which I comb through.

For days that I’m planning to go a bit more elaborate with my hair, whether that’s putting it up somehow or curling it, I’ll add a styling mousse. I use quite a bit of mousse, probably more than most people! I basically fill my entire palm with mousse, it’s about 2 eggs worth. I’ve found that to get my hair to hold style, I really do need a lot of mousse, and it doesn’t feel sticky or weigh it down. It just works.

Sometimes I just need to add a little texture to my hair to give it a little extra “grab”. To do that I’ll use either Dry Shampoo (on dry hair) or Sea Spray (on damp hair).

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Dry Your Hair, Longer

Once I have product in my hair, I dry it. I use an ionic dryer to help avoid frizz, but it also seems to add a little extra oomph to my hair. I dry my hair about 90% of the way upside down, I only flip over to smooth it out a bit with a paddle brush. The upside down bit seems to make a big difference for me. Note that once I’ve smoothed the top layers of my hair with a brush, I’ll usually flip myself over again, hit my roots with warm air and then switch to a blast of cool air to help “set” the volume.

Once I have my hair dry, there are a few styling options to pick from.

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Throw in Curlers

One of the best ways for me to add a little volume to my roots is with velcro rollers. I can’t find the picture of the exact ones I use, but mine are linked below (a smaller size of mine is pictured). I bought the 8 biggest velcro rollers I could find on one of my Sally Beauty trips a few years ago, and while they make me feel like a 1950’s housewife, they do help!

I use the rollers after I’m done drying my hair. I’ll put a few in at the crown of my head, I usually don’t do anything to secure them in place. I wrap them just to get the roots of my hair to I’ll hit them with a blast of warm air from the blow dryer. I leave the curlers in place while I do my makeup, taking them out when my hair has cooled down.

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Tease It

I can’t talk about adding volume to hair without discussing teasing. However, this is the option I’m least likely to take. I think it must be something about going through high school in the early 1990’s, as a reaction to all of the big 1980’s hair we never teased or used hair spray. So, I still don’t tease my hair much.

I have 2 teasing brushes that I use, and the brushes really do work much better for my fine hair than a teasing comb. I’ve had the wooden brush longer, it was recommended on a fashion blog, and I basically stalked my local Sally Beauty until it came in stock. It has natural Boar and Porcupine bristles and really grabs on to my hair. For bigger areas I use the wider teasing brush from Ion, it just works faster.

If I want the added volume to stick around, I need to hit it with a little super hold hair spray before I move on to the next section.

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Curl Your Hair

The last option is getting your hair to hold curl. Of some sort. This is when I prep my hair with all of that mousse, add a little extra heat protection spray, and grab a curling iron or flat iron. I go for tools that are ceramic or titanium, the heat is spread more evenly, helping to protect my hair from damage. As well, I need many heat settings, with the ability to know just how hot I’ve made that flat iron.

Everyone’s hair needs different levels of heat, so experiment to see what the lowest setting is that you can use. I started using about 410, I use 390 now. The lower heat will decrease your risk of frying your hair, something you want to avoid!

To decrease your chances of getting the Shirley Temple curls, I recommend using something other than a traditional curling iron. I love to curl using a flat iron or curling wand. Once you’ve removed the curl, if you either twirl the lock of hair a little or just cup it in your hand for about 30 seconds while it cools down you’ll get a more natural looking curl.

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About Me

I’m a doctor, a mommy and a bit of a beauty addict. If you let me, I can take 2 hours to get ready in the morning. Really. I'm on a quest for faster beauty that works!

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