“Hair shine is the best,” says Carlyn Griscti, a hairstylist at the White Rose Collective salon in New York. I sit back in the shampoo bowl while a clear shine treatment is raked through my hair, where it will sit for ten minutes, just like a conditioner. “We recommend them as a complement to a cut or blowout because they’re quick and make hair look so healthy,” says Griscti.
I love how my hair feels after getting a hair shine at the salon: shinier and easier to manage. But it’s still a semi-niche category in the hair world. Google and TikTok searches for hair shine have increased, with people asking “what is a hair shine?”, “is a hair shine worth it?”. and ‘What are the best brands and colors for hair shine?’ – so let’s get into that.
This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com
What is a hair shine?
Hair colorists liken it to moisturizing your hair with a lip gloss that makes it shinier. Traditionally, a hair shine is a salon color treatment, but you can also shine your own hair at home (we’ll get to that). Most hair salons offer a glossing service as an add-on, with a range of colored and clear glosses. If you choose a colored gloss, it’s like a semi-permanent hair color lite that lasts around four weeks or ten washes, whichever comes first.
The shine itself is what colorist Leland Olsen describes as a “liquid acid,” which basically means it applies like a toner rather than a cream-based dye or brightener. Because of this, the process is faster and requires no foils or heat. “You can give [a gloss] on wet or dry hair,” explains Olsen. “When you color dry hair, it absorbs the color more intensely because it doesn’t contain moisture. Applying a gloss to wet hair will make it a little thinner and softer. This is perfect if you are looking for a gentle refinement or hair color application.”
Whether you go for a clear or colored shine, your stylist or colorist will typically replace the conditioner step with a hair shine that’s left in your hair for five to 10 minutes. It is rinsed out and you proceed with a blowout or styling.
What are the benefits of a hair shine?
Shine, vibrancy and frizz control are the most obvious benefits of a hair shine. In my experience, a clear shine means I don’t have to tousle my long, thick hair to do what I want. After my final shine, a Kevin Murphy Color.Me treatment, I didn’t wash my hair for a full six days afterwards. My blowout stayed intact and actually looked better as the week went on. On the third day, I was even able to smooth out the blowout for a very Jennifer Aniston-inspired ’90s look that lasted all weekend.
Olsen notes that a shine can be an inexpensive treatment in the long run. “Pricing will depend on what the salon charges,” he says, “but if I do a quick shine treatment at the sink, it’s like a $20 treatment.” So if you want a haircut, think about what the price of the haircut is, and you only add $20.” Then at home, you don’t really need to keep up the shine with anything fancy.
When I wash my hair after a gloss, I don’t need expensive “bonding” treatments like Olaplex or K18 because my hair feels healthy without them. My current routine is just shampoo and conditioner; i am not precious The results of a shine are more akin to a keratin-based smoothing treatment, but again, much lighter, without the heaviness (or the keratin smell).
With a color gloss there are a number of other advantages. Treating previously color-treated hair with shine will extend the life of the color. “For example, if you’re a one-process redhead, a red gloss covers all of your natural greys, browns or blondes, so you don’t have to book another color appointment for a couple of weeks,” Griscti explains. A color shine allows you to play with color for much lower stakes. “Some people don’t want to permanently color their hair,” explains Olsen, “so we can use a combination of shine and vibrancy, but you don’t feel like your hair is colored.”
On TikTok, @schaelove talks about the benefits of a clear shine on natural hair. They use Redken Shades EQ which makes their curls more defined and groomed by wash day. Olsen explains how a hair shine evens out the hair’s porosity at the molecular level, essentially making each individual strand the same from the root (new growth) to the end (old growth, prone to dryness and breakage).
What is the best gloss for the home?
Given the choice between a salon gloss and a home gloss kit, I choose the salon gloss and have it applied by a trained stylist who knows what they’re doing. Griscti explains that because salons have access to branded professional systems, the results of a professional shine last longer than your at-home treatment. Also, a colorist can mix different shine shades to get a shade you won’t find in a box.
However, the home options are also good. They’re essentially like DIY toning treatments that can be applied to wet or dry hair for a subtle toning and shine, depending on whether you go for a colored or clear version. You may have seen the Kristin Ess Gloss in Copper Penny, which recently went viral on TikTok, transforming a natural strawberry blonde into a richer, more auburn tone.
Kristin Ess Gloss, which comes in ten shades and is $15 at Target. Another one of my favorites is the dpHUE Gloss+, which Grischi says she recommends to her clients as well. It’s a shine and deep conditioning treatment that comes in a bottle as opposed to a box. It is an Ulta bestseller in its category. I used Clear but Medium Brown is the newest shade that helps bring out almost any shade of brown. Award-winning Le Gloss by L’Oreal Paris is another easy toning in-the-shower gloss that boosts shine and boosts color. Don’t expect drama with a hair shine, as Olsen explains, it’s a “slick” treatment.