“Shine is associated with enviable hair the way glowing skin is associated with youth,” says Nunzio Saviano of Nunzio Saviano Salon in New York City. For one, it looks good, catching and reflecting light at every angle, but it’s also one of the most visible signs of hair health, says Jeni Thomas, a hair-care scientist at Procter & Gamble. “Hair’s shine is a result of two things: fiber alignment and the strength of the outer cuticle layer,” says Thomas. “Both factors affect how light reflects off hair; the more regular the reflection, the healthier and shinier the hair.”
Looking dull? Follow these steps to sparkle. (And don’t neglect your roots, either: Here’s how your scalp health affects your hair.)
“Hair that is coated with styling product, excess oils, and dirt will not shine,” says Saviano. That’s because it ends up becoming a landing strip for atmospheric debris, which sticks to the grease and interferes with the smoothness of your cuticle and the proper reflection of light. To keep hair from becoming weighed down, avoid applying product at or near the roots, and get to the uncoated strands by using a clarifying product, like Pantene Pro-V Charcoal Purifying Root Wash or Oribe The Cleanse Clarifying Shampoo one to two times per month, in addition to your regular cleansing routine.
Go for a Gloss
“Cleanliness promotes sheen, but clean hair with a coarse cuticle won’t necessarily be shiny,” says Saviano. Those who color their hair or rely on other chemical treatments are especially prone to breakage of the outer cuticle layer, which leads to lackluster locks. In addition to regular conditioning, use an at-home glossing treatment, like John Frieda Luminous Glaze Clear Shine or Clairol Natural Instincts Shine Happy to fortify the cuticle layer and improve its reflection of light. (Pair with these tips to save fried, over-processed hair)
Trim, and Do It Often
You know the drill here: Get a haircut, or at least have your ends trimmed, every four to six weeks. “Consistent haircuts are important,” says Steven Picciano, a national artist for Goldwell. “Split ends travel upward, so if you don’t get rid of them, they will creep up the shaft of the hair, giving it a dull, fuzzy appearance.” Seal off clean-cut ends with a strengthening cream, like Rita Hazan Triple Threat Split End Remedy or Virtue Perfect Ending Split End Serum, so they’re less prone to split.
Practice Safe Styling
“For coarse, curly, and processed hair, I always use a boar-bristle brush when it’s wet and a ceramic one for touch-ups once it’s dry,” says Rita Zito, a senior stylist at Eddie Arthur Salon in New York City. Another good way to detangle wet hair, especially if your strands are on the finer side, is with a wide-toothed comb. Whatever your hair type, dry strands will benefit from a few strokes of a boar-bristle brush, which helps distribute the scalp natural oils, leaving a shiny finish. Before you reach for your hot tools, spritz strands with a thermal protection product, like Goldwell StyleSign Smooth Control Blow Dry Spray, to prevent damage to the outer layer of the cuticle. And when heat styling, keep your tools below 395 degrees and make sure hair is fully dry before using a curling or smoothing iron, says Picciano.