Fact: Shiny hair looks good on *everyone*. Nothing beats glossy, radiant locks – it’s single-handedly the easiest way to look that little bit more ‘put together’. But what does shiny hair actually mean? And what can we do to up our hair’s shine factor?
What makes hair shiny?
Celebrity hairstylist and founder of Eleven Australia Joey Scandizzo says there are multiple factors behind shiny hair. “Hair shines because it catches the light and different things can affect this - from porosity, colour, density and texture.”
“Density plays a big part in shine factor. Hair can look dull if there’s less hair for the light to bounce off, that’s why finer hair never really shines, but tightly packed, denser hair does,” he says.
The colour of your hair can also impact how much your hair will shine. Darker colours will reflect the light, while lighter colours, such as blonde hair, absorb it.
“Colouring hair darker can boost shine because it fills the cuticle and creates a more uniform colour,” says Scandizzo. So, what about going lighter? Since the dye fills the cuticle will it also help make blonde hair appear shinier? Well, not necessarily. “Bleaching or taking hair lighter opens the cuticle and removes pigment, so it’s less likely to shine. Shine requires an intact cuticle; the more roughed up the cuticle, the less smooth and reflective, so the less it will shine.”
Hair type can also influence how shiny your hair will appear. Ever noticed that straight hair looks shinier than curly hair? This is because the smoother the hair cuticle, the shinier the hair looks. “Straight hair has a beautiful shine naturally because its flat cuticles are very light-reflective. Because curly hair usually has shorter pieces and strands going in different directions, it’s less light-reflective and doesn’t shine as much. Curly hair tends to be dryer too, and that’s because it’s harder for the natural oils on the scalp to travel down a curly strand of hair,” explains Scandizzo. But he notes that “just because curly hair doesn’t shine, it doesn’t mean it’s not healthy”.
Don’t rub your hair with a towel when it’s wet
Hands up who rubs their hair dry with a towel immediately after washing it? Because, same. But apparently this is a big no no if you want shiny hair. Rubbing your hair with a towel puts stress on your cuticles, causing friction and making your strands frizzy and frayed – this texture is less likely to reflect light. “Dry hair off by squeezing excess water out with a towel – don’t rub as this will rough up the cuticle, causing damage and killing shine – then use a wide tooth comb to detangle,” says Scandizzo.
We like TONI&GUY Wet & Dry Detangle Comb to tackle disobedient locks without damaging and breaking your hair.
Opt for a clarifying shampoo
The build-up of oil, dry shampoo, styling products and even residue from normal shampoos and conditioners can take away your natural shine. If layers of old products are sitting on your scalp and hair, the light won’t reflect as well off your hair as it should.
Switch out your usual shampoo for a hardworking clarifying shampoo once a week. “Using a deep clean shampoo will help get rid of product residue, impurities and pollution that are making hair dull,” says Scandizzo.
Apply a leave-in conditioner
Light reflects best off our hair when our cuticles lie flat; giving us the appearance of smooth, glossy hair. If you have high porosity hair, your cuticle layer is often damaged with tears and openings, meaning your hair loses moisture quite quickly. A leave-in conditioning treatment or hydrating mask will give your hair a hit of moisture to help combat this.
Always rinse with cold water
Rinsing your hair with cold water and finishing your blow-dry with a cold shot of air seals the cuticle and boosts shine, says Scandizzo. This is because cold water closes the cuticles and pores in the scalp, sealing in the moisture and helping to promote shiny hair.
Use a hair serum
According to Scandizzo, every hair routine should include a hair shine serum – it can instantly transform dull, dry locks. “Cracks in the cuticle absorb light, making hair look duller,” says Scandizzo, A shine serum will help ensure these gaps are filled with moisture, giving the illusion of smoother, stronger hair. “Use an at-home shine-boosting serum like Eleven Australia Smooth & Shine Anti-Frizz Serum. It features repairing and nourishing ingredients such as argan oil, which penetrate the hair shaft to repair damage while making the surface shine.”
Regularly brush your hair
The best hair shine product is apparently one we make ourselves - our hair’s natural oils. Scandizzo says, “Your natural oils are the best moisturiser and shine booster”. To use them to your full advantage, Scandizzo notes, “Brushing your hair from root to tip is a great way to loosen up excess oil at the scalp and bring it down the hair strands where hair tends to be dryer and need it the most. Brushing also creates healthy hair by stimulating the scalp and bringing blood to the surface, creating a healthy hair follicle and promoting healthy future hair growth.”
Use a flat iron
Given that straight hair catches the light more than curly hair, Scandizzo suggests reaching for a straightener if you’re after instant shine. “Flat ironing hair helps the cuticle to lie flat, which creates a larger surface area for light to catch. Just make sure you’re only applying heat to dry hair – going over damp hair can fry strands; and be sure to use a product with heat protection.”
Get a haircut
If you haven’t had your hair snipped in a while, this could also lead to a lack of shine. “Don’t underestimate the shine-boosting power of a haircut,” says Scandizzo. “Old frayed ends can bring your hair down, making it look dull and damaged all over. Keeping ends sharp instantly makes hair look more polished and shinier as a result.”
Eat shine-boosting nutrients
One of Scandizzo’s key tips for how to make hair shiny? “For super glossy hair you have to think about what you put inside your body too. There are certain foods that can boost shine. Things like salmon and seafood are really high in nutrients, fatty acids and vitamins B12 and D, which are great for your hair. Nuts are also high in healthy fats, which are amazing for your hair.” While changes aren’t going to happen overnight, incorporating some good micronutrients in your diet will help prevent breakage, promote shine (and growth!) and lead to soft, healthy hair in the long run.
Looking for more tips on how to get silky smooth hair? Check out some of the best shiny hair products your hair kit needs.
What are your secrets to shiny hair? Let us know in the comment section below.
Main image credit: Getty
Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.