Read our guide for tips on how to add shine back into dull, lacklustre hair
Shiny hair will never go out of style. A light-reflecting mane signifies health and vitality; it can enhance your confidence. It can even add pop to your hair colour, making it look vibrant and rich.
If your locks are looking dull, dry or damaged, then establishing a proper hair-care routine will help to nourish hair and accentuate shine. While some hair types are naturally shinier than others, there are styling and lifestyle choices that you can make to achieve your hair’s best shine.
Here’s the science behind shine, and how to get shiny hair.
What makes hair shiny?
Understanding the basics of shiny hair and the route to achieving it is the first step to upping the shine stakes of your own hair. Your hair shines when the outer layer, called the cuticle, is smooth and reflects light evenly. Therefore, if the hair cuticle becomes damaged as a result of heat styling, for example, or rough, light won’t reflect evenly, leaving hair looking dull or dry.
In addition, your scalp produces natural oils that coat the hair, which not only gives it a sheen, but these oils protect it from damage, too. If your natural oils don’t distribute evenly through your hair – maybe because you have curly hair, or because you have product build-up on your scalp – then this, too, can stop your hair from looking shiny from root to tip. Conversely, if your hair is oily as a result of the production of too much natural oil, then your hair can go from shiny to greasy.
Genetics also play a part in how naturally shiny your hair looks. Some people are just predisposed to having hair that looks shinier.
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Does hair type impact the level of shine?
Curly or coily hair tends to reflect less light compared to straight hair. The structure of curly or coily hair doesn’t allow light to bounce off the strands in the same way as poker straight locks, plus the shape of the hair means that natural oils don’t travel to the ends of the hair evenly. High-porosity hair – hair that absorbs and loses moisture quickly – can also appear less shiny since it retains less moisture.
Damaged hair, whether from heat styling, chemical treatments or a lack of proper care, tends to lose its natural shine, too. If your hair is healthy from within, it will reflect a natural shine on the outside too. Darker hair tends to look shinier than lighter shades because of the level of light it reflects.
Remember, too, that lighting plays a part in how shiny your hair looks. Different lighting conditions can affect the perception of your hair’s shine. Sunlight can make your hair look naturally shinier, whereas harsh indoor lighting can make your hair look dull. The source of lighting – overhead lighting vs side lighting – can also impact how shiny your hair looks. Side lighting tends to create shadows and highlights that accentuate shine.
How to get shiny hair
If your hair isn’t looking as shiny as you’d like it to, then there are steps you can take to achieve it. Hair health has a significant impact on both the way your hair looks and feels, so it’s important for that to be the focus.
Here’s our top tips for getting shiny hair.
Remove any build up
A neglected scalp can affect the overall health of your hair and, as a result, how well it grows and its level of shine. If your hair and scalp is covered in a combination of old product, oils and dead skin, then it won’t reflect light properly and will look dry and dull. Using a gentle clarifying shampoo, such as the OUAI Detox Shampoo, or Scalp Exfoliator, will cleanse your hair and scalp, removing build-up to leave shiny, clean hair that sparkles. While you don’t want to strip hair of its natural oils by overwashing, keeping it properly clean can help boost your shine.
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Follow the right hair-care routine
Choose a gentle shampoo suited to your hair type for regular use. Avoid formulas containing harsh sulphates that can strip natural oils from your hair, contributing to dullness. Follow shampoo with a moisturising conditioner to replenish hydration and smooth the hair cuticle. A weekly deep-conditioning treatment or mask – the Bleach London Reincarnation Mask is suitable for all hair types, for example – can make a huge difference to shine, too, as can shine-boosting styling products such as shine spray, serums and hair spray.
Keep it cool
Limiting heat styling will reduce damage, resulting in smoother, shinier hair. This means using straighteners, curling irons and blow dryers less often; reducing the temperature of those appliances, if you are using them; plus always using a heat-protectant spray – such as the Ghd Bodyguard Heat Protect Spray – or serum beforehand. While we’re on the subject of temperature, rinsing your hair with cold water after you condition helps to seal the hair cuticle for smoother – and shinier – hair.
Adopt a healthy lifestyle
It’s no secret that a healthy lifestyle can support a healthy scalp and shiny hair. A diet rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins can support shiny hair. In addition, water, exercise and avoiding habits such as smoking or too much alcohol can also impact the quality of your hair. Usually, the state of the outside of your body is a reflection of what’s going on inside your body.
Protect your hair from the environment
The environment – especially UV rays, pollution and harsh weather – can all affect how dry, damaged or shiny your hair is. To boost the natural shine of your hair, use protective hair products that contain SPF or UV filters, like the Aveda Sun Care Protective Hair Veil and wear a hat or protective hairstyle wherever possible to take care of your hair. Leave-in conditioner can help if your hair feels dried-out from your surroundings.
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Try a dehumidifier (or a humidifier)
High humidity can affect the texture of your hair, especially if it’s prone to frizz. In humid conditions, hair tends to absorb moisture from the air, causing the cuticle to swell and making the hair appear less smooth and shiny. On the other hand, low humidity can dry out the hair, leading to a lack of shine due to dehydration.
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Visit your hairdresser
Schedule regular trims to get rid of split ends and maintain the health of your hair. This prevents breakage and split ends, helping your hair look shinier and healthier. Your hairdresser can also offer you professional treatments to help add the shine back into your hair, especially if you get it coloured or chemically treated.