How Do I Make My Hair More Youthful, Full, Shiny, & Thick?

Removing Silicone Buildup in Hair

Removing Silicone Buildup in Hair

Dear Nicki,

I love hair posts, and would love to see more of them. It seems like there are just as many hair products on the market as skincare-so there is just as much information to sort out. I also read a study about women’s hair giving away her age just like her skin. I doubt hair is the new skin, but every day it seems like there is a new treatment to make hair look more youthful, full, shiny, or thick!


Dear Kimme,

I’m really glad you enjoy the hair posts – I tend to be a little gun-shy when introducing topics outside the realm of skin care (hence why weight loss has been relegated to Thinner Thursdays, fashion to Shopping Saturdays for now, etc.).  Hair care is one of my favorite new topics to discuss on the blog, and I’m grateful for your feedback!

With that said, here are 7 ways to make your hair more youthful, full, shiny, and thick:

1.  Consider a hair growth supplement with marine protein or biotin.

Changes in dietary protein alter the level of protein in the hair within six to twelve months (American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 1999).   Viviscal (shown above), a marine protein supplement, is the currently the best-selling supplement worldwide (, 2011).  Although it has been around for years, it recently gained popularity as Hollywood stylists started using it on celebrities like Kate Hudson (In StyleMakeover, 2011). Viviscal® has been shown to treat alopecia areata and androgen-related hair loss in a 1992 study in the (Journal of International Medical Research, 1992).  It has been suggested marine protein may provide missing amino acids to the hair follicle that aid in hair growth (Journal of International Medical Research, 1992). It has also been hypothesized the silica compound component of Viviscal® may be important, as silica supplements have been associated with increased hair growth, though there are few studies to substantiate this (Hair Savers for Women, 2000).  At any rate, a few readers have written to me after my first review of Viviscal® and have told me they noticed thicker and/or longer hair in five to eight weeks.

Another hair growth supplement option is biotin.  According to Dr. Audrey Kunin, board-certified Kansas City dermatologist and founder of, biotin deficiencies lead to hair loss and fragility. It’s difficult to determine if you are biotin-deficient; there is currently not a good laboratory test to determine biotin deficiency. Therefore, if you are not eating many foods containing biotin, including spinach, salad, brewer’s yeast, corn, barley, soybeans, walnuts, peanuts, molasses, cauliflower, milk, egg yolks, and fortified cereals, you may want to consider taking a biotin supplement.  Two great products that contain biotin are DermaVite Dietary Supplement ($19.75 for 60-day supply of 600 mg/day, and GNC Hair, Skin, and Nails Formula with biotin and lutein for the skin ($17.99 for 60-day supply of 300 mg/day,

2.  Use a hair-strengthening shampoo and conditioner with panthenol or Keravis (Hydrolysed Vegetable Protein PG-Propyl Silanetriol).

In twelfth grade, my balding male substitute biology teacher informed the class proudly, “The shampoo you use doesn’t matter, ladies and gents, your hair is dead.  So save your money.”  He had such a proud look on his face I wouldn’t dare cite any of the cosmetic science books I was reading in a retort, but one of my friends did.  “Mr. P.,” she said, shaking her shiny head of fabulous blonde hair, “I think you’re wrong.  I don’t believe it.”

Well, Melissa, you were right.  As any cosmetic chemist will tell you, many studies have shown different shampoos and conditioners can change numerous parameters of the hair, including apparent hair diameter, thickness, strength, and moisture content.  For instance, research has demonstrated the panthenol in Pantene products is in fact capable of thickening, strengthening, and moisturizing hair, as well as regenerating damaged hair (SOFW, 1994).   Considering Pantene is widely available with a low price point, it’s an amazing buy.  (And if you want amazing smelling hair, pick up the Pantene Pro-V Restore Beautiful Lengths Shampoo and Conditioner; I swear, the formulations smell like sweet candy.  I picked up two myself today!)

Of course, if you would like to go a step further, an ingredient called Keravis has been found to be more effective than panthenol in increasing the strength of the hair, as measured in a test known as Flexabrasion (Cosmetics and Toiletries Manufacture Worldwide).   Keravis is available in 1% concentration in Naked Naturals shampoos and conditioners.  Is this extra strength necessary?  No, of course not.  But does it hurt?  Certainly not!

3.  Mend split ends with keratin-binding aldehydes.

Split end repair products, like Nexxus Pro-Mend Repair Creme, actually work – temporarily, at least.  The secret is aldehydes and hydrolyzed keratin amino acids in the products react with the keratin naturally in the hair, according to scientist Dr. Tonya McKay Becker, Ph.D., an author of Naturally  Once the reaction occurs, delicate bridges form between the split pieces of hair, bonding new keratin onto the hair’s surface.  These bridges effectively “glue” the hair strand back together.

Adding keratin to the hair has other effects as well.  Keratin treatments, also known as shine treatments, have been administered in salons for years.  The addition of keratin to the hair makes it appear thicker, smoother, and more shiny – an effect that may occur to a lesser extent with the at-home split end repair products.  The effect lasts until your next shampoo, leaving you with fifteen free minutes in the morning as you choose not to curl the ends of your hair.  (Sleeping in, ahhh!)  Just be careful not to use too much, as it can leave the ends of your hair dry, and sometimes colored whitish if you have dark hair.

4.  Use a hair-thickening mousse/styling product with poly beta amino ester-1.

With more women choosing to go to MIT every year, it was only a matter of time before the brainiacs started developing advanced hair care technology.  The Langer lab (at MIT) jumped on board first, developing poly beta amino ester-1, an ingredient that coats each hair shaft with “thickening points” that essentially work like Post-It notes: grabbing at one another with pockets of space between one another, yet separating and re-grabbing easily.  In essence, this means you get all of the punch (volume) with none of the crunch (stickiness)!  The ingredient is available in Living Proof Full Thickening Cream ($24.00, and all of the Living Proof products.

I’ve used Living Proof Full Thickening Cream on the crown of my head for a few months now (I have chronic flathead).  From my personal experience, only use a small amount of Living Proof Full Thickening Cream evenly on your hair, or else your hair will look more “wet” than “thick.”  I also noticed much more results from the Living Proof Full Thickening Cream than the shampoo or the conditioner.

5.  Style with volumizing tips from the pros.

I guess I should have realized I would end up writing when I started taking notes while reading fashion and beauty magazines.  (!)  At any rate, these awesome tips for voluminous hair come from renowned Hollywood hairstylist Oribe in the February 2010 issue of Elle magazine (one of my favorites, by the way, but we’ll get to that in another post):

6.  Try clip-in hair extensions.

When all else fails, or if you’re just looking for a quick fix, try Jessica Simpson hairdo Hair Extensions ($46.50,

Although it feels weird at first to wear what my mother called “a fall,” hairdo Hair Extensions really do look natural if you apply and style them correctly.  Separated hair in the back, secure the top portion with a butterfly clip, clip in the extensions, and then release the top portion of my hair from the clip.  In the beginning, it took about 10 minutes to perfect, but by the end of the first month, I could literally get this within 2 minutes.  When removing, spray with a faux hair cleanser, dry with a clean towel, and store in a dry place.

hairdo Hair Extensions are better used for special occasions only, or expect to buy another after 3-5 months.

7.  Get a monthly cellophane-based shine treatment at the salon.

Cellophane treatments work by depositing glossing agents into the hair shaft, making hair appear shinier and thicker, and feel smoother and silkier.  They generally cost less than $50, and last for about a month with regular wear and shampooing.

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  • Ace

    Hey – I’ve being trying to look into Naked Naturals shampoo and conditioner, and I can’t seem to find them anywhere, and the link is broken. Help?

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