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7 Different Ways to Thin Out Your Thick Hair

Your hair might be the object of jealousy for those with thin hair, but if they only knew! Sometimes thick hair can feel heavy on your head and be difficult to style. If you choose to thin out your hair, it may or may not mean a change in appearance, depending on the method.

How to Thin Out Hair

Once you know it’s time to thin out hair, Let’s look at seven different ways to thin out thick hair with pros and cons.

1. Use thinning shears

How to thin out hair - use thinning shears

This is a haircut that uses a stair-step approach to remove bulk. It works best on long hair because if your hair is medium length or shorter there’s not enough room to create the steps. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Start on dry hair. Make sure the ridged side of the scissors is on top as you cut.
  2. Section off the front two inches and the crown. It’s best not to cut these with thinning shears as your total look won’t be smooth.
  3. Section off the rest of your hair into three sections, the back, right and left.
  4. Starting on the right, take a small section from the bottom and comb through it.
  5. Then measure six inches down from the roots and use the thinning shears to make quick cuts at the six-inch point and for every two inches after that move down the hair shaft.
  6. Part another section and leave it without cutting.
  7. Take the section after, measure, and cut in the same manner.
  8. So it’s one section cut, the next left alone. If you part off four small sections, in that case, you’re only cutting two.
  9. Do this for the right, back, and left.

Cons to thinning shears

These take a long time to grow out if suddenly you miss your thicker locks. Also, it might slightly alter your hair texture, which can be a good or bad thing.

2. Get an Undercut

How to thin out hair - Get nape undercut

One way to thin out your hair is to grab a pair of clippers and remove the nape area, going about three inches up into your hair.

If your hair is long, the tresses up top should completely hide the area and it will remove a great deal of bulk from your hair. It will only be noticed if you decide to wear the rest of your hair in a bun. Then it will look super edgy.

Cons to undercuts

If your hair is medium length, your ends might look a little straggly without a nape. If your hair is shorter, say in a bob, you risk looking like you adopted a Karen style if you remove the nape.

It will put the rest of the back higher and you might end up with one of those well-crafted pixie bobs that have every hair in place.

“If you have a bob and you undercut the nape, you might end up with a Karen cut.”

– Ghanima Abdullah

3. Try a Partial Updo

How to thin out hair - half up hairstyle

This involves no cutting but is a way to help you deal with the bulk while still looking nice.

  • Try a loose messy bun with the top, one that’s pulled to the back of the crown, while the rest of your hair hangs down. Add wisps or braids in the front for a touch of extra glamor.
  • Or try a chignon at the nape and have chunky front pieces framing your face.
  • Use two large, single-strand twists against your scalp in the front of your hair with chignon clips to hold them in the back. Then curl the rest of your hair in spirals so it looks like the twists are hanging down.

Cons to partial updos

The weight of your hair is still there, just moved around to balance it at the back of the head instead of all over.

Expert’s Tip:  Partial updos help you deal with bulk while still looking nice.

4. Ask a Stylist for Chemicals if You Have Thick Curls

How to thin out hair - hair chemicals

Chemical treatments almost always thin the hair as they weaken the hair follicles causing some shedding. To keep the health of your hair, it’s best if you have a stylist deal with the chemicals.

  • You can dye your hair a different color, as semi-permanent and temporary dyes coat the hair, adding a slight layer to help tame curls. Henna does the same.
  • Bleach is a corrosive chemical, so if you decide to go lighter, it will probably thin your hair slightly all over.
  • Alternatively, you can try a relaxer that will thin your curls and make them tame, but be aware that, like bleach, it’s a permanent treatment.

Cons to chemical treatments

Chemical hair treatments are damaging to the scalp, which is why they thin the hair out. Stylists try to limit their contact with the scalp in ways you can’t do at home. Still, it’s inevitable that some will reach the scalp. To limit the damage that chemicals can cause to your hair and scalp, always use the services of a pro.

Expert’s Tip:  To limit the damage of chemical treatments, always use the services of a pro.

5. Ask for Layers

How to thin out hair - get layers

Long layers on thick hair, whether straight or curly, are just the thing to thin it out gracefully. Short layers, on the other hand, are used to increase volume for thin hair.

So make sure you specify to your stylist which one you’re looking for. With layers, your blow-dry time will be shorter and it will be easier for your hair to keep the style that it’s cut into.

Cons to layers

Like thinning shears, layers take a long time to grow out, although a stylist can update them periodically.

Expert’s Tip:  Long layers on thick hair, whether straight or curly, is just the thing to thin it out gracefully.

6. Use a Blow Dry Cream

How to thin out hair - use blow dry cream

For those with thick hair, there are many ways to get it looking smoother and less frizzy.  One of the best ways is to use a blow-dry cream.

This product will give your hair extra grip, in case you’re going to curl it afterward while smoothing out any frizzies. Or you can use a heat protectant serum, which can help keep your hair from poofing out during the day.

Cons to blow dry creams

Your hair might look a little thinner when you use a blow-dry cream, but of course, it won’t be. A blow-dry cream will only improve the texture.

7. Cut Your Hair Short!

How to thin out hair - cut hair short

Ta-da! Thick hair problems are gone! Well… not exactly. You’ll have to pick and choose through the short haircut styles to make sure it suits your hair and face shape. Remember that pixie bob, the bixie?

Well if you don’t shave the nape area but create a really short bob that’s a little longer in the back, it won’t look like a Karen style. Also, make sure it’s parted in the middle. (Karens like long side-swept bangs, right?) If you follow these tips, your bixie will look on-trend, because it is.

You could also choose an actual pixie cut and never have to worry that your scalp is showing. Smile.

Cons to cutting your hair short

Once you cut your hair, there’s no going back until it grows out in a year or so. So grab one of those apps that shows you how you’ll look with different haircuts before you settle on a style.

Expert’s Tip:  Use a hairstyle app first so you can see beforehand how the cut will look on you.


Can I thin my hair with regular scissors at home?

No. Thinning shears can be used at home, however. 

How do I make my hair less poofy and thick?

Try using a blow-dry cream.

Do thinning scissors ruin hair?

No, but it might take some time for your hair to grow out after using thinning scissors.

How do hairdressers thin my hair?

They use long layers or thinning shears.