A Hair Gloss Is Your Answer to Dull Winter Hair

It tames flyaways, too.

woman tossing shiny hair
Photo: Mike Kemp/Getty

In the doldrums of the winter, coaxing a modicum of shine out of your hair becomes its own special project. That's why the colder months are the perfect time to indulge in a gloss. The treatment (also referred to as a glaze) provides shine and revitalizes dull hair while helping to smooth flyaways. A gloss can be clear or tinted and can be used to maintain or enhance color. You may have gotten a gloss at your last in-salon color appointment, the final step that your colorist brushes on your hair while you're at the bowl post-shampoo.

There are two types of gloss: semi- or demi-permanent color, explains Sally Hershberger colorist Dana Ionato. The good news is they both don't contain ammonia and are gentler than hair dyes. The main difference between the two is that semi-permanent doesn't open up the hair shaft before adding color. It simply goes over the cuticle and deposits color and shine. "It can't make hair lighter; it can only go over the hair and cover it to create a darker shade," says Ionato. Demi-permanent contains a small amount of peroxide and absorbs into the cuticle to enhance natural color or make it darker. It can change tonal value from cool to warm (or vice versa) and blend greys, she says.

Here's what you need to know about the treatment.

It Adds Shine And Boosts Your Color

One major benefit of applying a gloss to your hair is that it adds shine, but the fun doesn't stop there. "A gloss prevents fading, but also add tones and pigment to the hair," explains Ionato. The colorist creates custom glosses depending on her clients' hair color, but also the season. "If you're a blonde, it's winter and the lighting outside is gray, I do a different gloss than I would in the summer," she says. In the winter, she'll whip up something warmer, like a gold, to help stop the hair from getting a reddish cast. "It's like a filter. A gold gloss will help bring out the pigment in your skin, enhance everything, and combat the gray overcast light."

Another upside of gloss: its ability to lock out the humidity (less frizzy hair), and the cold air that's going to contribute to static.

It Reads Differently on Different Textures

Texture can be a factor that affects just how much shine you'll get. Ionato notes that fine and/or straight hair tends to be shinier than wavy or coarse hair, becasue wavy and coarse hair absorb light. Light reflects on straighter hair.

Chose the Right Shade For You

Gloss is bespoke when it's mixed up at a salon. When you do one at home, it's important to choose the right color as it's a less customized formula. A potential risk with a DIY gloss is that you could ruin the hair color you paid for in-salon, this is especially true for blondes and redheads. Applying a gloss to darker hair is easier, as there's less room for error. But overall a clear gloss is the safest way to get shine for all hair colors, says Ionato. We like the glosses online hair color service Madison Reed offers. Another affordable option is John Frieda's Luminous Color Glaze Clear Shine.

Tips On Application

When applying a gloss at home, Ionato says to make sure your hair is damp, and towel-dried - not wet. "Don't apply anything to soaking wet hair to avoid diluting the formula," says the expert. Then, leave the gloss on for 15-20 minutes before washing it out. "Gloss can make the hair slippery," she adds, "so shampoo it out well and use a good conditioner."

A Gloss Can Cover Grays

Ionato says this is something that should be done at a salon for all-over gray, but for root coverage, you can apply a semi-permanent brown gloss at home. "That'll be more of a long-term solution than the color sprays on the market."

Don't Expect A Long-Term Solution

Sadly the effects of glosses aren't long-term. Ionato says that salon glosses last about 21 days, while at-home versions last two weeks. Think of it as a short-term solution for a special event or when you need a pick-me-up. For something longer lasting, you may want to opt for permanent color. IGK Expensive Amla Oil Hi-Shine Topcoat is an in-shower gloss you can use in lieu of your conditioner every couple of weeks. Another alternative to try is Oribe Glaze For Beautiful Color, which smells divine. Rita Hazan True Color Ultimate Shine Gloss is an extra step you "shampoo in" in between shampoo and conditioner, which comes in a range of shades.

Glosses Don't Replace Conditioner or Styling Products

And finally don't ditch your beauty staples. A gloss isn't a replacement for conditioner or styling products, which can also help you get a little extra gleam. A few favorites: Davines' Alchemic System, a deep conditioner that deposits color without an activator and Ouai Anti-Frizz Sheets, these perfectly portable hair helpers, made of hemp paper, coconut oil, shea butter, tame flyaways. Ionato says that using a texture paste like Sally Hershberger 24K Superiority Complex Texturizing Paste will help seal the hair cuticle. "This will help reduce static and impart structure in the hair while making highlights look brighter," she says. Salt Lake City-based stylist Tyson Daniel recommends raking in a little Seven Gazar Diamond Serum onto second-day hair to amp up shine. "It's like lip gloss for your hair," he says.

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