There's no secret why you’re jealous of shiny hair, whether it's that of Blake Lively or the girl you sit behind in organic chemistry. It's not because it's gleaming or reminds you of the sleek manes at Anna Sui's fall show—it's because it looks healthy. And being healthy is attractive, as science tells us time and again.
But the journey to this luminosity isn't easy—glosses that promise sheen but yield mediocre results are tiring. So instead of sacrificing your spending money on the same old selection, invest in habits that guarantee shine and wellness. And when you do fork over the cash, choose expert-approved products. Here's your guide to the best routines and items for shiny, healthy hair that's bound to reflect some envy.
1. Put down the shampoo!
Shampoo every other day instead of daily. Thekey to shine lies in our hair’s natural oils, which reach from scalp to ends without frequent washing. But when it is time to lather, make sure you condition thoroughly. Stephanie Weber, a student at Michigan State University, swears by this method: she only washes every other day and leaves conditioner on her hair for five minutes before rinsing. She noticed the longer she left it on, the shinier her hair became. Though at first afraid it would make her hair greasy, she noticed less breakage and more silkiness—a result well worth the extra shower time.
2. Detangle wet hair with a comb.
Assume your split-ends are from avoiding a haircut? Think again. Maggie MacDonald, a hairstylist at V-Salon, suggests using a comb to detangle your hair after showering—not a brush. Brushing your hair too often or for too long, especially post-shower, causes friction that leads to serious breakage and lackluster locks. Instead, gently comb your wet hair to detangle and when you do brush, spread your natural oils from roots to ends by using fewer strokes.
3. Master your blowout.
Even if you're cramped for time, avoid drying soaking wet hair. According to Stephanie, towel drying and even air-drying hair is the best way to reduce damage—the goal is to get it damp, not dripping. “I usually dry my roots and bangs and let the rest dry naturally,” she said. Make your time under the drier a maximum of 20 minutes to avoid heat damage, or set your blow dryer to a cool temperature setting. The longer you expose your hair to any intense heat, the less moisture it retains and the duller it becomes.
4. Oil up!
Use oil-based treatments and sprays. Jamie Harmon, a hairstylist at ColorWorks Hair Company says the vitamins in oils help fortify hair. Her favorite is Redken All Soft Argan-6 Oil ($22.39). “If you start [the oil] at your ends and work up, it helps soften the hair, smooth it out and add a nice sheen,” she said. According to Harmon, oil treatments can work on all hair types, but women should choose ones that don’t feel too heavy or synthetic. MacDonald recommends Moroccan Oil Treatment ($15), which also contains Argan oil and is rich in fatty acids and vitamin E. Other favorites include Couture Color Pequi Oil Treatment ($34) and Organics Extra Virgin Olive Oil Shine Hair Polish ($4.99), a cheap thrill that adds a kick of shine to any hair texture.
5. Buy the right brush.
The wrong brush can snag your strands and dull your hair. “Breakage and shine work hand in hand,” MacDonald said. “Damaged hair is dull and more likely to break off.” She recommends investing in an “ionic” brush. Super lightweight, they produce ions that reduce static hair and control flyaway strands. Try Ion Titanium Ionic Paddle Brush ($5.99) or Vidal Sassoon Titanium Ionic Technology Round Brush ($7.99).
6. Read the ingredients.
When shopping for any hair product, examine its contents. Alcohol as an ingredient, oft-found in mousses, strips hair of its natural shine. “Most styling products will have alcohol in them,” MacDonald said. “But try to find ones with lower alcohol content because it just dries hair out.” She recommends looking for shampoo and conditioners that aim at strengthening hair because they’re typically alcohol-free. Harmon raves about Wella Brilliance Shampoo ($10.99) because it’s alcohol-free and light, but still moisturizes. “The more moisture in hair, the more healthier it will look and the more bouncy and shiny it will be,” Harmon said.
7. Avoid hair spray!
Unless you're aiming for sky-high tresses à la Jersey Shore, there's never a need for a hair spray overload. According to Harmon, cheap hair sprays typically contain ingredients that dry hair out, like wax and too much alcohol. “They can damage your hair and create a lot of build up, which makes it look really dull,” she said. To maintain style, spritz a little hair spray, but don't overdo it. Harmon recommends Sebastian Shine Define ($13.99) for thermal protection that stimulates shine.
8. Eat your way to shine.
Here’s some food for thought: a balanced diet could promote silky hair. Harmon says a diet high in protein strengthens hair’s keratin, which is good for not only shine, but also helping hair grow faster. Protein-rich foods include eggs, flaxseed, salmon and beans. She recommends carrots—which contain carotene, a pigment that helps the body make keratin.
9. Go for the gloss.
At-home glazes deliver the kind of shine that make you feel like you just left the salon. MacDonald suggests serums and glosses, as they’re typically the favorite among shine-seekers. The top products include Fekkai Salon Glaze Clear Shine Rinse ($28) and John Frieda Luminous Color Glaze Clear Shine (Walgreens, $9.99).
10. Try finishing products.
Using flat iron sprays and mists shouldn’t be limited to salon visits. MacDonald says they’re worth purchasing because they leave some surprisingly shiny results. She recommends TIGI Bed Head “Headrush” Shine Adrenaline Spray for an all-over gloss effect ($13). Stephanie uses Healthy Sexy Hair Soya Want Flat Hair Hot Iron Spray ($10.99) when she straightens her hair—making for less sizzle and more sheen.
Stephanie Weber, Michigan State University
Maggie MacDonald, Hairstylist and Colorist at V-Salon
Jamie Harmon, Hairstylist at WaterWorks Hair Company