What is hair filling? The new treatment that promises thicker, fuller locks

The latest procedure uses traditional hair extensions in a different way to add volume to even the finest of locks

Hair filling is an effective way to add volume to thinning locks, and lasts longer than traditional extensions. Photo: Tim Mossholder / Unsplash
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From volumising sprays and mousses to hair extensions, there are plenty of tricks and shortcuts to achieving a fuller-looking head of hair.

Hair filling is the latest procedure to utilise traditional hair extensions in a way that adds texture and volume, providing a long-term remedy for those suffering from fine or thinning hair

“When it comes to hair extensions, long hair is a thing of past,” says Sam Carpenter, hair artist and educator at Eideal. “Now they are used to 'fill' the hair, and make it healthier and thicker.”

What is hair filling?

“Hair filling is when you use hair extensions for volume,” says Karl Warner, artistic director at Pastels Salon Ritz Carlton. “Sometimes people are put off by the idea of hair extensions and what they think it entails, usually because they have seen poorly done extensions.”

Hair filling is a non-invasive technique that offers a longer-lasting remedy than simple hair extensions. Synthetic or natural strands are attached to the hair, even if it's very short or fine, using super-thin bonding tape. The hair is then cut to the wearer’s length, with the filling lasting up to three months.

“The brilliant thing about fillers is they can be taken out and reapplied, just using new tape,” says Carpenter. “However, this can only happen if the hair is kept in optimum condition, with a good at-home haircare regime.”

How long do hair fillers take to put in?

Left, hair before fillers are applied; centre and right, the extensions add more volume and thickness. Photo: Karl Warner

The amount of time it takes to administer hair fillers depends on the number of extensions needed as well as hair length and condition.

“Generally speaking, fewer than 75 pieces is considered hair filling, while more than 75 pieces is classed as a full head of hair extensions,” says Warner. “Before having any hair extensions service, you should have a thorough consultation so the stylist can explain exactly what’s involved in terms of time, cost, home-care and what results you will achieve.”

Carpenter says: “Tape-in is the stylist’s go-to tool for hair filling. It’s a non-abrasive tape that binds with hair, is gentle to the scalp and does not cause traction alopecia. Each tape extension can be styled using heat up to 210 degrees.”

What causes hair to thin?

Thinning hair can be down to a number of factors including age, hormones, nutrition and genetics. For women, the fall in oestrogen and progesterone levels during menopause can cause hair to become thinner as the hair follicles shrink.

While filling is suitable for most types of hair, there are some medical issues to be taken into consideration.

If someone is suffering from severe alopecia, I would refer them to a trichologist rather than filling their hair,” says Warner. “It’s not that it won’t ever be possible for them to have extensions, but it is better for them to err on the side of caution and get a medical opinion before embarking on any treatment.”

How long do fillers last and what special care is needed?

“They can last up to three months,” says Warner. “It really depends on the individual who has them and how they are cared for as you need to be prepared to really look after your hair.”

Stylists recommend using sulphate-free hair shampoo and conditioner to extend the life and quality of hair fillers, along with regular hair masks and leave-in conditioning treatments to replenish the natural oils that hair may not get because of the extensions.

The treatment is priced from Dh500.

Warner says: “You will need to use a bristle paddle brush designed for hair extensions, so when you brush over bonds, they will not twist and mat.”

Natalie Thompson, one of Warner's happy clients, reports: “My hair was very thin and I wanted more volume and to be able to style it and for it to hold. Hair filling was quick, easy and painless. I am so pleased with the results and will continue to have fillers for volume.”

Scroll through the gallery below to see more hair trends for autumn/winter

Updated: October 24, 2022, 4:08 AM