Whether it's a fan of long, beachy waves, or a sharp, sleek bob, there's one characteristic of hair that enhances any hairstyle: shine. Shiny hair looks healthier, prettier, and more polished, but with all the things attacking your hair- including everything from color damage to the elements- shine can be a bit elusive.
But even if your hair is damaged, or just simply not naturally shiny (naturally curly hair, for example,) adding some shine can be done quickly and easily in just a few steps.
- First, direction of styling. This is something most people don't really think about, but it's vitally important. Hair is not just a solid strand; it is covered with thousands of tiny cuticle scales that lie over each other from top to bottom (like the tiles on a roof.) Any time you comb, brush, or manipulate hair opposite that direction (from bottom to top,) it roughens up the cuticle scales, causing the hair to look rougher, less shiny, and possibly even frizzy. (**TIP: Backcombing and teasing involves combing hair opposite the right direction, which is why when you backcomb, you should focus it at the roots of hair, not at the midstrands or ends.) Whenever you are combing, brushing, ironing, or otherwise styling hair, try to keep the direction of your movements going from roots toward the ends. This helps the cuticle scales lie down flat against each other, giving the hair a shinier appearance.
- Next, product. There are hundreds of styling products out there that help add shine to hair. Keep in mind that shine added at the roots can cause an oily look. My recommendation is to work shine products in at the ends, and possibly the midstrands, only. Use a shine serum or a shine spray, and add a tiny bit before blow-drying and/or a tiny bit at the end of styling. (**TIP: The only time it's a good idea to use shine product all over is after you've styled your hair into an updo for an event, or if you're doing some sort of photo shoot.) If you've not used shine products before, remember one important thing: A teeny, tiny bit of shine product goes a long way. With a spray, you shouldn't be spraying more than one or two shots; with a serum, you shouldn't be using more than half a dime size (or a dime size for very long hair.)
- "Beachy" vs. shiny. Beachy waves and Farrah-style feathering have been popular in the last few years. Following suit, hair product manufacturers have created products and tools designed to help you create those styles. But if it's shine you're going for, these products and tools will not help you. Any product or tool helping create a beachy, wavy, or feathered look (including the salt-water sprays you can make at home,) are actually designed to roughen up hair to give it a more natural, textured appearance. This can be beautiful, of course, but it will not give shine- rather, it will remove shine. So when it comes to beachy or shiny, unfortunately it's "either-or."
- Finally, understand temperature's effect on hair. Heat causes the cuticle scales to open up (bad for shine.) But heat is also what allows you to smooth hair with an iron or roundbrush (good for shine.) So if you use heat to style, always use a thermal protectant product, and always use the lowest temperature you can while still being able to achieve the look you want. If you use the hottest setting, it may take away from the shine. The higher temperature settings are typically only needed on very tight natural curl, or afro-textured hair.
Of course, the overall health and condition of your hair contributes to the shine (or lack thereof) of your hair. Staying healthy, exercising, using the appropriate products for your hair type, and protecting hair from the elements and damage as much as possible all helps maintain your hair's condition and health and therefore, it's appearance.