Seeking voluminous hair: A limp-locked lady’s quest for OOMPF

Looking at photos of myself in the early noughties, there are many words of sage advice I wish somebody had deigned to impart: ‘Grow in your eyebrows’, ‘VK Ice is not a real drink’, ‘yes there are calories in your boyfriend’s chips and cheese’, ‘kissing Gary Lucy in Park End is nothing to be proud of’. But the one glaring error that mocks me from those blurry disposable camera snaps is my flat, flat hair. Why did I ever think abusing the GHDs was a good idea? Why didn’t somebody tell me to add a bit of volume? Fast forward 14 years and my mission in life is to achieve hair my mother would’ve been proud of in the eighties – the bigger, the better. Perhaps ‘bouffant’ is a step too far, but show me a product that promises to volumise my fine, limp locks and I’ll throw all my money at it.

flat hair

I don’t believe I’m the only one who struggles with this sort of depressing hair type, so I thought I’d share some of the genius products I rely on to inject a bit of hair volume – or better still, oompf – on top. All cruelty-free!

Charles Worthington shampoo & conditioner

First up, in-shower products. I envy people who can get away with second-day hair, especially as I often really like my hair very first thing in the morning. But an hour later I know it will inevitably have flopped into a greasy, limp mop, so I’ve accepted that I do have to wash it every day. That said, I skip conditioner at least every third day or when I have an event I want my hair to look good for and instead wash my hair twice with a volumising shampoo. I learned this trick from one of those click-bait Refinery 21 articles, and it’s frickin’ genius. The first wash strips out any old product and dirt, while the second actually works the volumising magic on your clean locks. I don’t spend tons on shampoo: Charles Worthington’s pink range (pictured above) does a great job and I’ll mix up the conditioner with something like Argan+ Collagen Rejuvenating conditioner when my hair feels like it needs a bit of TLC. I’ve also just read that Superdrug’s own Pro V Volume Shampoo and Conditioner are amazing for fine hair and very easy on the wallet, so I’ll be giving those a try next shop.

Aveda thickening spray

I’ll then give it a rough towel dry and add some mousse.  This is where I do spend money and the best cruelty-free brand I’ve found yet is Alterna’s Bamboo Volume Weightless Whipped mousse which plumps up my hair no end. I’ll also spritz my roots with some of Aveda’s thickening tonic, above, another miracle treatment which has the added bonus of smelling incredible. Both of these products are around the £20 mark but they don’t leave your hair feeling crunchy, my bugbear with many a cheaper mousse.

Tangle Teezer

I’ll now do an initial comb-through with my Tangle Teezer above (if it’s good enough for Lucy Watson…) because weirdly my fine hair does get really knotted up. Then I’ll use a proper hairbrush for blowdrying. I recently discovered the curved Arconic Brush pictured at the start of this post – it looks kind of space age and grips just the right amount of hair at a time, making it an easy way to do a home blowdry without bothering to section off your hair (who has time?) My hair dries in about three minutes so I just blast it while brushing it outwards and up along the curved paddle. Then a quick blast of hairspray (any will do – I honestly can’t tell the difference between hairsprays) while blowdrying it upside down.

Tresemme hair dust

To finish off, and to top up throughout the day/night, I’ll massage in some hair dust, my ‘save from the fire’ product. They’re all good tbh and I tend to just use TRESemme’s version, above. Although TRESemme explicitly state that their products aren’t tested on animals, PETA don’t include them on their cruelty-free list so, if you’re unsure about buying their stuff, Superdrug’s own brand does the job too (although you need to use more of it to achieve the same result). Incidentally, Superdrug are brilliant for vegan/cruelty-free products and have led me to put my Boots habit to bed for good – upsettingly Boots pretty much only stock animal-testing brands. Back to the hair dust, it does look slightly dodgy when you emerge from the Ladies with a dusting of white powder but, in all honestly, when it comes to this stuff I’m a confessed addict.

Percy & Reed

Another product I should mention is Percy & Reed’s Wonder Balm, which I stick in either before the mousse or as a post-blowdry afterthought to add boompf. I discovered Percy & Reed via a free magazine sample of their overnight recovery serum, above, and have loved everything I’ve tried since – their ‘bouncy volumising mousse’ is next on my list. Oh yeah – that overnight serum might’ve been responsible for my early morning ‘good hair’ delusions.

Bigger hair

So now I’m in my thirties, am I finally Alice with the good hair? Maybe not but I’m getting there with a little help from my friends above (and, in this photo, a generous Montenegrin sea breeze!)


I’m a publisher working in Covent Garden and living in Woodford, East London, with my King Charles Cavalier JD, and my boyfriend Pete. I’m posting about London living – eating, drinking, seeing art, style and reading books. Anything and everything really…


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