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Haircut Therapy for Those of Us with Thick Hair

Updated on July 5, 2012

The Back of my Head

Ever wonder what the back of your head looks like?  Disregarding color (sorely in need of recoloring my hair), this is my fancy new 'do complete with mousse.  Which I already know I won't keep doing...
Ever wonder what the back of your head looks like? Disregarding color (sorely in need of recoloring my hair), this is my fancy new 'do complete with mousse. Which I already know I won't keep doing... | Source

Thick Hair can be a Hassle!

Trust me, I know. I still hate my thick, heavy hair, even to this day, and every time I get someone new at my favorite salon, all I hear is "wow, your hair is SO thick!" And all I can say is "I warned ya, I wasn't kidding..."

Thick hair has plagued me my entire life - my mother who, due to her thyroid condition, envies my double-thick head of hair, has apparently forgotten how hard it was to brush when I was a child (she'd spend at least an hour getting the knots out just from me sleeping on it). My father used to torture me because he wouldn't brush out the knots patiently like she would, he just cut them out.

I remember at least one severe incident that led to my hair going up around my ears because first he cut it around my shoulders, but he didn't cut it straight - just gathered it up into a ponytail, twisted, and snipped. I went home from school the next day hoarse from screaming and crying because I'd been teased so much, and dad had dropped me off too late for mom to get my hair fixed before school the next day. Mom got my hair 'fixed' that night and it ended up around my ears.

When I was in seventh grade, I somehow convinced my mother to let me get a permanent. I had always wanted gorgeous curls, and thought a perm would be my salvation from dull, boring hair. It pulled out in less than two weeks because my folicles are so thick and heavy. Mom was furious. Luckily, she doesn't remember that... but I do.

Once I got old enough to spend more time on my hair myself and got my dad to stop chopping it off, I grew it out down to my rear end. I don't think I'll ever do that again without careful, careful maintenance. Believe it or not, at that point, when I put it up in a bun, I couldn't rest my head against the back of the car seat - it was so thick and long the bun looked like something out of a star wars movie and stuck out what felt like a full foot from my head (it didn't really, it just felt that way). As soon as I cut off 12 inches and donated it, I noticed I stopped getting headaches quite as frequently because my hair was actually so heavy I had to strain my neck sometimes to keep my head straight.

I have thick, heavy hair.

How do I Get any Style with my Thick Hair??

The key to dealing with thick hair in my life, I have found, is actually quite simple, no matter the length - Thin it out!

There are several ways to have your hair stylist do this for you.

  1. Razor Thinning
  2. Thinning Shears
  3. Layering.

I've tried them all.

Razor Thinning

This can work alright, but for my hair it doesn't quite do the trick. It's a form of layering, where they drag a razor-cutter across your ends to create a 'textured' look. If your hair isn't quite as thick as mine, a little closer to a 'normal' thickness, you might want to try this, it will work quite well while giving you that sassy look.

Thinning Shears

This one I highly advise against. It will give you short-term relief, but not much style, and if done wrong, your hair will look absolutely horrible when it starts growing out in a week or two. Not to mention, one of my former co-workers had a stylist do that to her hair in an attempt to texture her flat, straight hair, and she had patches ... like the girl thinned it out too much in one spot and you could almost see through to her neck. I don't recommend this unless you really trust your stylist.


My favorite tried-and-true method of getting my hair feeling thinner and staying that way. Layering for "oh my gosh you have thick hair" kind of hair is a godsend. I really like that sassy look, and this gives it to me, whether I brush my hair out straight or (as pictured above) have someone put mousse in it (because I despise styling my own hair) and let my natural wave take over. Layers can work in long hair as well, they can be choppy (like I like mine) or they can be a little more discreet.

My Personal Preferences

No matter how thick or thin your hair is, everyone has their own personal preferences as to the style and texturing - naturally, we want it to look good no matter what, but tastes vary.

If you're a little more impulsive about your hair and not afraid to take things a little on the short side, then I can honestly say the sassy short 'do I like to rock should be tried. It's gone through many incarnations, both on purpose and by accident, but here are a few of my past ones that I really, really love.

Jaw-length "Short-No-Nonsense" Side Sweep with Sass - On vacation one year, I showed up to my dad and step-mom's rented summer vacation house with hair up to my jawline. It was disheveled, red, and hadn't been washed in two days, because why wash my hair for a 13-hour drive up to canada where I'm gonna be alone for the majority of the day, with nobody to care? My step-mom asked in a very disgusted tone: "Gawd, Jenny, why did you do that to your beautiful long hair?" The next day, after I'd washed it, made sure to brush it out straight and blowdry it, and side-swept my bangs the way they were supposed to be, I went down to breakfast and her jaw hit the floor. "That's why. That's gorgeous! You look so chic, and european!" It was layered, but still lay flat with the blowdrying, and gave me quite a sleek look.

Shoulder-Length with Sassy Swept Bangs - ´╗┐blowdry it straight or let it air-dry however it may, pin the bangs off to one side, and you have a coy little look with this one - or at least I did. I really had fun with this and my short no-nonsense.

Just-Above-the-Shoulder Little Miss Sass - This is the one I'm doing right now. I will be honest and say that I don't like styling products, because my hair is already so heavy that I feel it defeats the purpose of getting it thinned. I feel rather like Gracie in Miss Congeniality where she walks out of her two-day styling extreme makeover and is like "I'm in heels, I haven't eaten in too long, I have mousse in my hair and my gun is loaded. Don't. Mess. With. Me." I'm hungry, I have mousse in my hair, and a ten-inch chef's knife in the drawer...okay, so it doesn't quite work like that, but you get the point. My point is, my hair has so much attitude I feel like I should be talking with a New Jersey accent and should be considered armed and dangerous. My boss might not like the fact that I can't put all of it up into a ponytail, but that's what I have bobby-pins for -- besides, she hired me off of my great work ethic, not my style. It's short, it's got all the sass in the world, it badly needs to be redyed (next week), and the mousse is keeping my natural wave in place (or it will until I tie it up in a rubber band for the night). I think I'll probably be able to keep the natural wave as long as I dont' brush it when it's still wet, without using mousse, so I think I'm gonna be happy with it. And I have enough to fall down in my face to make me feel really fashionable.

Your Turn

Have thick hair? Share your best - or worst - hair story in the comments below. What styles do you like that work for you? Are you a total mousse-aholic or are you a product-phobic like I am?

What are some of your favorite hairdo's that you've had?

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    • SidKemp profile image

      Sid Kemp 

      6 years ago from Boca Raton, Florida (near Miami and Palm Beach)

      This is fun! I'd love to see some pictures, especially of Side Sweep with Sass. My wife has super-thin hair, and used to envy a close friend who grew a thick braid she could sit on. Voted up and funny!

    • Motherbynature profile image

      Liv Carradine 

      6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      My hair is super thick and I remember my mom complaining when she combed my hair. I even grew to dislike dealing with my own hair so I cut it off short in high school. After that I wore braid extensions almost all the time. Now I have dreadlocks and these suckers are long and heavy but at least no more combing.


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