Almost every curly has struggled to unearth the elusive shine that our slick-straight counterparts seem to have with no effort at all. Yes, a closed cuticle is more reflective of light, but stylists say you don’t have to steamroll your spirals to get a gorgeous glow. Try these simple shine strategies for luminous locks.
Follow a hair-healthy regimen
If your textured tresses are exceptionally dull, the most likely culprits are heat-styling tools that not only damage the hair, but also strip its natural luster. Solution? Feed your starving curls, already
“The healthier the hair, the more it’s going to shine,” says stylist Mia Fanali of D. Sabrina Salon in Westport. Conn. “Use a deep conditioning treatment once a week and a daily UV-protecting, leave-in conditioner.” (Fanali recommends Curlisto’s Deep Therapy Masque and Inestra’s Aestelance Balm leave-in conditioner.)
“A UV-protecting product screens out the sun’s rays, so you’ll have less damage on the outer layer of the hair shaft that takes the most abuse and is the first area to lose the shine,” Fanali says. “Always apply the UV protector first, then you can use your gel to style your hair. ”
Excessive shampooing also strips the life – and shine – right out of your hair, experts say.
“It is very important not to shampoo too often because the natural oils from your scalp will be one of the best shine products you can have,” says stylist Ethan Shaw of Anne Kelso Salon in Austin, Texas.
Even if you’re active in the gym or outdoors, working up a sweat is actually a good thing for your thirsty curls.
“It’s not dirt! Distribute those oils through your hair,” says Stanley of New York’s Christopher Stanley Salon, who suggests gently brushing the hair (depending on your curly texture) to spread the natural oils around. “Don’t get rid of that natural shine material that you are making yourself.”
Go for the gloss
Stylists recommend adding a clear gloss every four to six weeks for a shine boost, whether or not you color or highlight your hair.
“I use a gloss on a lot of my curly clients who don’t have any gray and don’t really want to change their color, but they want shine.” Fanali says. “Redken Shades EQ makes a clear gloss, which is conditioning and adds a lot of shine. I also add in a gloss as part of the permanent color service.”
The demi-permanent glosses are offered in various shades, in addition to the clear product.
“The clear gloss will close the cuticle of the hair to prevent frizz and add a lot of shine,” adds Stanley, who also recommends Redken Shades EQ. “I’ve found it’s the longest-lasting gloss that produces the most shine and will not hurt the hair at all. But you don’t have to use a salon product. You can find semi-permanent gloss products in that famous CVS (drugstore) aisle. If you color your hair, it’s good to add a gloss in between your color services.”
Meanwhile, Shaw advises curlies to choose their color wisely because using the right shade can factor into the shine equation.
“Instead of using colors that tend to make your hair look flat, use warmer colors,” Shaw says. “Semi-permanent color will also make your hair look shinier than permanent colors, which can be more drying and damaging.”
If you must, spray it on
When your to-do list feels like a mile long (and a trip to the salon is not on it!), stylists say shine sprays and serums will work in a pinch for thick, textured tresses.
“If you don’t have any time, adding shine to your hair is a tough thing, especially for coarse curly hair,” Stanley says. “I like ECRU’s Silk Nectar Serum, but it’s a silicone so you have to use it in small amounts or your hair will end up looking like a greasy mess.”
Stanley suggests adding only a few tiny drops to individual curls — starting at least three inches from the scalp – after applying your usual style products.
“Keep in mind, you don’t want to use a heavy-duty shine product on fine curly hair because it will weigh the hair down,” Stanley warns.
If you choose to use a shine spray, Fanali suggests Curlisto Glow & Shine spray and Shaw recommends Bumble & Bumble Shine Spray.
“Keep in mind, most of the shine products are going to be silicone-based, and it is what it is,” Shaw says. “If you have really damaged curly hair, you can also use Bumble & Bumble Straight as your styling product, which has different silicones, and you can scrunch it in. It will make the hair look shiny, but it’s really just putting a Band-aid on the hair.”
Shaw says a healthier approach to creating shine is to create your own concoction.
“Go to your local health food store, buy a small bottle of olive oil and a small bottle of vegetable glycerin,” he explains. “In a food processor, emulsify them (using a 50-50 mix) and pour it into a small spray bottle. Shake it vigorously and lightly mist it on (staying away from the scalp), when your hair is dry. It will add shine and it helps damaged hair.”
If you prefer a soothing scent, simply add a few drops of your favorite essential oil and you’re done!
Again, this remedy works best for curlies with thick hair. If your hair is thin and fine, stylists say you’re much better off heading to your salon for a clear demi-permanent gloss.
“If you want something that’s not going to be adding a bunch of silicone, it’s a really effective way to create shine – and be good to your hair," says Shaw.