Thinning Techniques for Thick, Wavy, Coarse Hair

Actress Michelle Williams shows off her poof-free pixie cut in at the 2011 American Film Institute Festival in Hollywood.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Sometimes thick hair is too full and heavy, especially when it's wavy. Several thinning techniques can help, but if not done correctly your hair could actually end up looking thicker. Since you're trying to get away from the poof, it's best to make sure you do it right the first time. Pick any technique that feels comfortable.

Thinning Shears

The easiest way to thin hair involves notched scissors called thinning shears. The shears combine a solid cutting blade with a notched blade. When the shears close over hair, select hairs get cut while others remain intact, resulting in thinning. To thin with thinning shears, simply close the shears over small sections of hair. Thin at least 3 inches from the scalp -- any shorter and you create short, spiky hairs and the illusion of more volume.

Razor or Razor Comb

Razors remove bulk more efficiently than thinning shears. Two options exist including the razor comb and regular straight razor. To thin, lay the razor flat against the hair about halfway down the hair shaft. Pull gently to remove hair. Make several passes until you remove as much hair as you like.


You can also remove bulk with scissors by snipping out select hairs or using the cutting blade like a razor. To remove hair with the snip method, part off a small section and snip small strands of hair out of the section. To use the blade like a razor, open the scissors and drag them down the hair shaft just like you would the razor.


Thinning too much can cause wavy hair to appear thicker because shorter hairs curl up. The curls create a cushion that pushes the long hair, causing it to look fuller. To avoid this, thin a small amount then check the thickness. Avoid thinning more than 50 percent of the bulk. Stick to removing about 25 to 30 percent.

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