Working out how to get shiny hair can sometimes seem like an impossible task. If you’ve ever lusted after the lustrous locks of celebrities or found the promise of quick hair-shine-enhancing fixes lacking, take a look at our tips for how to get shiny hair.
Let me reassure you. You can get shiny hair.
Working with clients in my salon over the years, I’ve achieved shiny hair with even the driest of hair types. Quick fixes are tempting and often give a temporary fix. However, sometimes they leave hair feeling drier and more lacklustre.
I believe in building long-lasting shine for hair, and with the right approach, you can have healthy, shiny hair all the time.
How to Get Shiny Hair
OK, so here’s the first thing you need to know about shiny hair. Hair is shiny when the cuticle, the outer layer of hair, is smooth. Light bounces off the smooth surface of the hair, and that’s what leaves hair looking shiny.
The cuticle comprises lots of tiny scales, and when hair becomes dry, the scales lift. The lifting disrupts the smooth surface of the hair, and, that’s when hair can start to look dull and lose its shine.
Ever wondered what makes your hair dry? Well, there’s a long list. I’ve listed a few below. It’s by no means a complete list and some of it you will already be aware of but, it’s always good to remind ourselves, right?
Causes of Dry Hair
- Getting into hot water: Washing hair in hot water can leave it feeling dry.
- Heated styling: With heat, you can style and shape hair, but, it can also leave hair feeling a little parched.
- Sun, wind, rain all conspire to dehydrate hair.
- Nutritional deficiencies can have an impact on the quality of your hair and how well hydrated it is.
- You may love a splash about in the pool, but, chlorine and, of course, seawater can dry out your hair.
- Colour treatments work by opening the cuticle. The consequence? Yes, you guessed it! It can leave hair vulnerable to moisture loss and dryness.
- Over-brushing, over-styling and generally touching your hair too much can result in damage and dryness.
When you go through this list, you can start to see the level of the challenge. I don’t want you to feel disheartened, though! No, there’s plenty you can do to get shiny hair, and, with a few tweaks to your hair care routine you can get your shine on!
So without further ado, you can find my top tips for how to get shiny hair below.
Shiny Hair Tips: 8 Ways to Shine Hair
Get into the Right Lather
- Choose a shampoo that’s right for your hair type. I know it sounds obvious, but with so many shampoos on the market, it’s not always easy to choose the right one. It’s vital to add the right amount of moisture to the hair. Too much moisture and fine hair can become overloaded, too little and dry hair will be parched. I keep it simple. Revive and Shine Shampoo is for all hair types, including fine and normal. Anyone with coarse, thick or naturally dry hair types should opt for extra moisture with Hydrate and Shine Shampoo.
Don’t get into Hot Water
- When washing your hair, make sure the water temperature is on a warm setting, not hot. Remember, heat is drying for hair whether it’s from the tap, central heating or your hairdryer. So, avoiding excessive heat. Rinsing in warm water is gentle and kinder to your hair.
Treat your Hair like a Delicate Fabric
- If you think about your hair like your favourite silk scarf or cashmere sweater, it’s a good place to start. Chances are you wouldn’t chuck either in the washing machine or tumble dryer, for that matter! Hair, like cashmere and silk, loves gentle handling. A firm but gentle approach works best when washing and drying your hair. That’s because when hair is wet, it’s most vulnerable to breakage and, for maximum shine, we need to keep the cuticle smooth and unbroken. Washing hair with a gentle shampoo in warm water is the best way of preventing breakage when it’s wet. When drying the hair, gently pat the water out of the hair with a towel. If you are gentle with your hair, any towel will do, but microfibre towels are a great option for soaking up the water, and they have a smooth surface which is gentler on the hair.
The Importance of the Scalp
- When we think about shiny hair, it’s easy to focus on the hair, but the scalp plays a vital role in hair shine. The reason for this is twofold. First up, the scalp’s job is to grow hair. The scalp is made up of lots of follicles. Those follicles need to be clean and free of dirt for healthy hair growth. Secondly, the scalp produces an oil called sebum. Sebum is responsible for adding moisture to the hair. However, if we overstimulate the scalp by scrubbing it too vigorously, it’s possible that the scalp will produce too much sebum and this becomes problematic. The excess sebum can make hair oily at the roots, hampering shine. The oil attracts dirt from the atmosphere, leaving hair looking dull and clogging up the follicles. In turn, this can impact healthy hair growth. So the answer is to apply a firm but gentle massage technique when washing hair for maximum shine. Avoid scrubbing, no rubbing, just a gentle circular massage using fingertips to cleanse the scalp.
Be Conditioner Curious
- Here’s what I mean by being conditioner curious. You probably already know that if you want shiny hair you have to use a conditioner every time you wash your hair. Conditioner is essential after every wash. However, not all conditioners are made equal. Bear with me, and I’ll explain. So we talked earlier in this piece about the importance of a smooth cuticle and how a smooth cuticle reflects light, resulting in shiny hair. We’ve also talked about how dry hair can look dull and lack shine. By adding moisture to the core of the hair, we can improve the overall health and texture of the hair. If the hair retains moisture at the core and the cuticle is smooth, it locks in that moisture and reflects light for that perfect shine. That is the job of your conditioner. Now, the formulation of your conditioner is a factor in how well it does that job. So if your conditioner is not delivering, it’s time to get conditioner curious and take a look at the ingredients.
I have some favourite moisture-adding, cuticle-smoothing ingredients that I recommend you look out for in your conditioner:
- Pro Vitamin B5 – clinically proven to penetrate the cuticle to add moisture, I think this is the ultimate hair care ingredient. I love it so much I include it in my shampoos, conditioners, hair mask and styling products.
- Glycerin – the perfect partner to pro vitamin B5, glycerin attracts moisture to your hair. Again, I use it in my shampoos, conditioners hair mask; these products are expertly blended with pro vitamin b5 to give the perfect moisture balance to all hair types.
- Cetearyl Alcohol – if you see this ingredient in your conditioner, you may be alarmed. Don’t be. This alcohol is anything but damaging for hair. You’ll see it in good quality skincare and with good reason. It’s a natural fat that moisturises and conditions the skin and hair. What that means for hair is that it conditions and smooths the cuticle. Remember, we want those cuticles to be as smooth as possible for maximum shine! 🙂
- Tocopherol- otherwise known as Vitamin E, tocopherol is another ingredient found in good quality skincare. It smooths and conditions hair along with fighting environmental damage.
- Avocado – this nutritional powerhouse is not just good to eat. Packed with fatty acids, it conditions and smooths the cuticle; it contains oleic acid, which helps the hair retain moisture. Essential for shine.
Get Proactive with Moisture
- Take a look at our video for adding volume to fine hair for some inspiration.So here’s the thing. We are always going to do things that will be drying for hair. Life is for living, after all! So, for many of us, hair styling means using a hairdryer. Think about what you can do to counterbalance the drying effects of the heat. Leave in conditioners such as those in my styling range, for example, are a great way of adding moisture to the hair before you apply heat. They help to counterbalance the drying effects of heat and protect hair from the effects of styling. You can also do things such as turning down the heat on the hairdryer or trying styling techniques that require minimal use of the hairdryer.
Regular Deep Conditioning
- Hair, just like our skin, craves regular moisture. Putting a deep conditioner at the heart of your hair care routine is one of the best ways of ensuring your hair shines brightly. It has the same job as a conditioner, but it’s more intense. Hence the name, deep conditioner. Above, we talked about getting proactive with moisture and, quite frankly, because of modern lifestyles and the amount of stuff we put our hair through, it’s vital to give hair a deep condition once a week, every week. That’s your best weapon in combatting dry hair and, of course, adding hair shine.
Touch your Hair Less
- Take some time out to think about how often you touch your hair during the day. Probably, more than you think. There are the absent-minded hair twirlers, the hair putter-uppers and then take it down again (sometimes several times a day) the over-brushers and the styling perfectionists who don’t know when to stop to mention but a few. When you think about it, it’s surprising how many times we touch our hair. Touching our hair puts dirt in the hair. Dirt leaves hair looking dull. When we over-brush our hair or spend too much time styling it, it can lift the cuticle and, again, without a smooth cuticle, there is no shine. You get the picture, touching our hair less frequently can help reduce dirt and damage and keep the hair looking shiny.
Why not try my 8 steps for how to get shiny hair for a month and see how you get on? I’m confident that you’ll see a difference in your hair after a couple of weeks. After a month, just wait and see how many comments you get about how great your hair is looking.
I believe that with a good routine and by following the steps above everyone can improve the condition and texture of the hair to maximise hair shine. I think we’ve pretty much covered all things shiny-hair-related.
Having said that, I’ve included some frequently asked questions below. These are questions I am most often asked about shiny hair.
What does shiny hair indicate?
Shiny hair is an indication that your hair is retaining moisture and that there is little breakage. When we talk about hair being in good condition, that’s what we mean. Because there is little or no breakage, the protective layers of the cuticle (the outer layer of the hair) are laying flat. That gives the hair a flat surface. The light bounces off this flat surface, and your hair looks shiny. The flat cuticle also gives your hair that slippery feel that we associate with healthy hair.
Why is my hair not shiny?
There can be any number of reasons. When your hair is not shiny, it’s an indication that it’s dry and needs additional moisture. We talked earlier in this article about the causes of dry hair, and, I’ve listed a number of those. However, one significant factor that I haven’t mentioned yet, is that hair can be naturally dry. If your hair has any kind of curl, or if your hair is thick or coarse, chances are it’s prone to becoming dry. That doesn’t mean that you can’t do something about it.
I talk a lot about the importance of routine in haircare. Follow my 8 Ways to Shine Hair and see how dull hair can become shiny.
What ingredients make hair shiny?
Pro Vitamin B5 and Glycerin are a match made in shiny hair heaven. I talked about some of my other favourite shiny hair ingredients earlier in this article. But if I had to pick two, I would always choose these first. It’s a powerful partnership; pro vitamin b5 gets moisture right to the core of the hair, and glycerin attracts moisture to the hair. That means your hair can absorb and retain moisture.
How can I get healthy, shiny, silky hair?
Follow my 8 Ways to Shine Hair. That will give your hair the best foundation. Choosing a routine of deep conditioning is the most important thing you can do for healthy hair.
How can I make my hair shiny overnight?
Quick fixes may promise a lot, but, in my experience, they rarely deliver long-term benefits. I recommend taking your time, building a great hair care routine that incorporates regular conditioning and deep conditioning. I’ve been doing Pilates for several years; it’s taught me that patience and perseverance are the most important things to build strength in the body. I think it’s the same for hair.
How do I make my blonde hair shiny?
If your blonde hair is colour-treated, it will be more porous. When you use chemical treatments on the hair, it opens the cuticle, leaving hair more vulnerable to the environment. That means it absorbs dirt from the atmosphere which can leave blonde hair looking dull. Previously, we discussed the need to seal the cuticle. That is where deep conditioners come in. They don’t just add moisture to the hair. They also smooth the cuticle to lock in moisture. When the cuticle is sealed, it’s less prone to absorbing dust and dirt from the atmosphere. Regular deep conditioning will help maintain the hair and improve shine.
How do you make bleached hair shiny?
Bleached hair is more of a challenge for hair shine, but it is possible to make bleached hair shiny. I’ve written extensively on how to care for bleached hair and, I recommend you read my article, How to Take Care of Bleached Hair and Fix Damage. In that piece, I’ve given a specific response to the question, How do you make Bleached Hair Shiny?.
Is shiny hair genetic?
It can be. Some people are just born with it. However, there are a couple of things I’d like to add.
First up, just because you are born with it doesn’t mean you’ll keep it. I’ve mentioned all the factors that conspire to leave hair dry; the sun, central heating, heated styling etc. The list goes on. Even if shiny hair comes naturally to you, these factors can leave hair dry. When your hair is dry, the cuticle can lift. Hair loses moisture, and, with it goes the shine.
The answer, of course, is to look after what you’ve got. Maintain your hair with a deep conditioner; this is the antidote to all the environmental factors that leave hair dry and dull.
Secondly, just because you aren’t born with it, shiny hair is still within your grasp. Follow the steps I’ve outlined above to kick off your shiny-hair journey.
My hair has lost its shine, what can I do?
When I get this question, it can be related to an event. Maybe a home-colour-treatment or hair that has been over-bleached. Sometimes it can be a gradual thing; hair that’s been losing moisture over time. Either way, I like to ask a few questions to understand how we can retrieve the shine.
How often do you wash your hair?
The scalp produces an oil called sebum. Sebum is good for the hair and has a role to play in scalp and hair health. Having said that, in between washes the sebum can build up and, as a result, it can attract dirt. Particles from the atmosphere attach to the cuticle and can leave it looking dull. That’s why a regular routine of cleansing is so important.
How often do you condition and deep condition your hair?
We’ve talked at length about the importance of conditioning and deep conditioning for shiny hair. I don’t plan to go through that again. However, I would like to say that treating your hair like your skin is a great place to start. They are the same proteins, and both require moisture to look and feel their best.
How do you style your hair?
Styling is one of the riskiest times for hair damage. That’s the time when we touch our hair the most; we use heat, we brush, we comb. All of these things can cause the cuticle to lift. Remember we need to the cuticle to be flat for optimum shine, so it’s vital to assess what we are doing to our hair at this point. Once you’ve done that, you can think about damage limitation.
Small things can make a big difference. For example, turn your hairdryer to a cooler setting. Alternatively, you can think about less damaging ways of styling your hair. If you want some inspiration for different styling techniques, take a look at my blog on velcro rollers. They are a fabulous way of reducing the amount of heat you apply to your hair.
Of course, there are other factors, and we’ve discussed most of those above. However, I think these three questions are a good starting point. Use them to identify opportunities to adjust your hair care routine for maximum shine.
How can I get shiny hair naturally?
It’s a great question, and it’s one, I’m always happy to answer. When someone asks me this question, it’s an indication that the person posing the question understands that quick fixes are not the answer. The answer is to add moisture to hair through a good routine of weekly deep conditioning. I opt for natural ingredients to do the job in my deep conditioner, Restore and Shine Hair Masque. Pro Vitamin B5, Vitamin E, Glycerin; they are all plant-derived and, in my experience, give the best results.
Want natural shine? Use plant-based products.
About the Author
Norris Ogario is founder and Creative Director of Ogario London. Developed in his London salon, the Ogario London haircare products reflect his belief that hydration is the key to fixing most hair problems. Hydrated hair can be styled with ease. Plus, hydration leaves hair shiny and healthy. Norris has over 35 years of hair know-how. With expertise in all hair types; from dry hair to fine or grey hair, from frizzy to damaged or bleached hair, curly hair and afro hair, Norris offers his expert advice.
Over the years, I’ve talked to and helped a lot of customers with dry hair concerns. I write about all aspects of healthy hair, from tackling frizz to getting rid of split ends and share salon tips and techniques for looking after all hair types.
I’ve suggested some further reading below, but please look at our Healthy Hair Blog to find more articles.
The way we style and care for our hair is not the only factor determining hair health and shine. Good nutrition is vital.
If you want to delve deeper into how you can improve your healthy hair diet, take a look at our blog, Healthy Hair: Choose the Best Foods for Hair Growth.
Colour treatments have a big impact on reducing moisture in the hair, particularly if you bleach your hair. If you are a bleached beauty and want to regain your shine, you might want to look at our blog, How to take care of Bleached Hair. You can also take a look at my case study on elasticity in bleached hair.
I’m a huge fan of leave in conditioners for hair styling. During my time in hairdressing, I’ve found that many styling products are too drying for hair. Leave in conditioners offer a great alternative. These multi-tasking products can often be the difference between dull hair and shiny hair. Additionally, I love how they leave hair with natural movement. Want to find out more about leave in conditioners and how they can help you in your quest for shiny hair? I give you the heads up in our blog on Leave in Hair Conditioners.
For further reading on dry hair, Salon Know How: How to Moisturise Dry Hair is a must-read.
Ogario London is a salon developed, natural hair care range. We are passionate about our products, and, delivering the best results is at the heart of what we do. Do you have questions about our products? Or, would you like advice on the best products for your hair type? Or, do you have another question about how to look after your hair? If you do, please get in touch at email@example.com.
With regular weekly treatments from the ultimate hair mask for dry hair, Restore and Shine Hair Masque you can have seriously luscious locks!
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