Thickening Vs Volumising Shampoo: What’s the Difference?

Many of us live our lives under the assumption that hair care is simple and straightforward. It’s only when we dive into the world of hair care that you realise there’s a little more to …


Many of us live our lives under the assumption that hair care is simple and straightforward. It’s only when we dive into the world of hair care that you realise there’s a little more to perfect hair than 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner.

If you’re new to the world of hair care, you’re probably overwhelmed by the array of shampoo varieties. The smorgasbord of shampoos and other hair care products available in the beauty aisle of any grocery store can be advantageous- but only if you know how to use them. Once you’re equipped with the right skills and knowledge, you’ll be one step closer to the hair of your dreams.

Every shampoo bottle seems to advertise a different area of expertise- smoothing, thickening, damage repair, colour protection, and more. It can seem a little repetitive. For example, what is the difference between volumising shampoo and thickening shampoo? Aren’t those essentially the same thing?

As it turns out, there’s a world of difference. And it’s important to know the difference because you may be looking to volumise your hair but are operating under the misconception that you’ll get the same results from thickening shampoo (and vice versa).

Thick hair vs voluminous hair

To distinguish between thickening and volumising shampoo, you must know the difference between the results they achieve. If you’re using thickening shampoo, you want your hair strands themselves to be thicker, with fewer gaps in between. This shampoo is generally used by people with thin hair to create plumper, stronger individual hairs. The hair won’t necessarily be big and full- it may lay flat against the head and be dead straight- but the individual hairs will be strong and fleshed out.

On the contrary, voluminous hair is big and bouncy. Volumising shampoos create hair that is full of lift and body, bursting out from the roots and containing dimension and texture. The focus is on your whole head of hair rather than individual hairs.

Either of these results may be desired by people with wispy, lifeless hair. If your hair is thinning or falling out, it may be best to focus on thickening shampoo. If your hair strands are strong and thick but your hair appears dull and flat, volumising shampoo may give you the best results.

Some shampoos can do both. Eleven Shampoo is a volumising shampoo that strengthens and thickens hair without the negatives that usually come with thickening shampoo. Using a volumising shampoo that also aids in thickening is the key to adding shine and body to your hair. Look for natural ingredients like papaya extract that will give your hair a bouncy, vivacious quality.

How does thickening shampoo work?

Thickening shampoo adds protein and collagen to your hair strands, making them thicker and filling in gaps. While thickening shampoos focus on width, they may also contain ingredients that lengthen your hair.

However, thickening shampoo tends to be a temporary fix. Your hair will appear thicker right after a wash, but this is not permanent. In addition to this, the buildup of polymer in your hair can weigh down your hair over time, making your hair look flat and dull.

How does volumising shampoo work?

Rather than thickening each strand, volumising shampoos lift the bulk of your hair, giving it a glorious, textured appearance. Volume is synonymous with words like bulk, extent, and magnitude; it essentially means that it makes your hair bigger, and more dimensional.

Volumising shampoo targets your roots and scalp instead of each individual strand of hair. It also gives more long-term results, because while the buildup of thickening shampoos on your scalp can lead to adverse effects, volumising shampoos don’t tend to create buildup and residue, and therefore long-term use is generally safe. Due to the very nature of the results they aim to achieve, volumising shampoos tend to be free of ingredients that weigh down hair.

Not all volumising shampoos will guarantee perfect hair, but choosing one with good quality ingredients should give you buoyant, lively hair.

Which product is right for you?

The nuance between these labels is subtle but significant. It is important for each person to choose the shampoo that is right for them based on their hair concern. Understanding your hair type and being able to identify your personal hair concerns can help you make the right decision for you.

If your hair is thinning, you may lean towards a thickening shampoo- but it is important to note that these work by temporarily swelling your hair strands, and high expectations of long-term results may lead to disappointment.

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