Hair Gloss Vs. Hair Glaze: Top Colorists Set The Record Straight

Find out which one is right for you.

hair gloss vs. hair glaze

Dyeing your hair, either for the first time or the 30th, can be a transformative experience for both your mood and your hair. Maybe you decided on a color to compliment the current season or maybe you just want to enhance your natural color. Regardless of your goals, selecting the right treatments can make all the difference in achieving your desired look. You’ve probably heard the terms hair gloss and hair glaze get thrown around as options for maintaining your new shade. But despite sounding similar, they’re actually two different processes that can be beneficial for color-treated hair.

“Generally speaking, a gloss and glaze are very similar,” says Bianca Cox, a New York City-based hair colorist and owner of HairThrone salon. “But there are areas where they differ, which is why consulting your stylist before making your appointment is important,” she adds. Whether you’re looking to increase shine or enrich your current look, knowledge of these treatments will take you far. For this reason, TZR went straight to the source and tapped two colorists to set the record straight on hair gloss versus hair glaze. Ahead, they share the benefits, what to expect at your appointment, and even a few products to care for your hair afterwards.

What Is A Hair Gloss?

From a technical standpoint, a hair gloss is a demi-permanent treatment that is meant to change the color of your hair. According to Olivia Casanova, a colorist at IGK Salon in New York City, “Glosses have very small amounts of ammonia that penetrate the cuticle in order to deposit color.” Meaning a gloss will actually dye the hair and change the color of your strands. However, because the coloring process is not as involved, a gloss typically isn’t used to lighten darkly colored hair.

Glosses can also be used to adjust the tonality of your pre-existing color. “Certain permanent colors tend to get brassy over time, and hair gloss can be the answer to restoring its vibrancy,” says Cox.

What Is A Hair Glaze?

Perhaps the easiest way to describe a hair glaze is to compare it to a well-known glazed object — the doughnut. In a similar fashion to that of the confectionary treat, a glaze sits on top of the hair to only change the outward appearance of the hair. “Sometimes people may refer to a glaze as a clear shine, because they’re not adjusting the actual follicles like a hair gloss does,” says Cox. But glazes don’t always have to be clear. Again, similar to the doughnut, a glaze can give the surface of your strands a nice color coating by way of a color-conditioning mask.

Hair Gloss Vs. Hair Glaze: What’s The Difference?

The main difference between these two terms is the results they will provide. Though both glosses and glazes can be used to boost shine, a hair gloss adjusts your color at the follicular level while a hair glaze simply acts a tint.

With that in mind, a hair gloss can be used to change your hair color, tone your current color, or even to blend pesky grey hairs, and will last for two to three months. On the other hand, glazes are meant to richen your color by adding shine and often correspond to the current color of your hair as opposed to a new shade. Since they sit on top of the cuticle, glazes generally have a wear time of one to two weeks.

Another big difference between these two treatments is where you get them done. Like any other coloring treatment, hair glosses are best done at the salon to avoid any issues. But a hair glaze doesn’t necessarily have to mean a trip to the salon. “If you’re looking for a quick color change and are unable to make it to the salon for something more permanent, glazes are a great option you can do at home,” says Casanova. They’re also a fun temporary way to richen your color without any risk.

What Are The Benefits Of A Hair Gloss & Hair Glaze?

As you may have guessed, there can be number of benefits to using a hair gloss to lightly color your hair and a glaze treatment for shine. For starters, they put little stress on your hair because they both have a low risk of chemical damage. In fact, they can also be restorative and show strands a little extra care after more intense color treatments. “By far the biggest benefit to using a hair gloss or a glaze is that they help seal the cuticles which smooths the hair, making it feel softer and look shiner,” says Cox. This can be very useful especially after a bleaching service which can cause frizz and leave strands feeling dry.

Another major advantage to glosses and glazes? They inherently rebalance the pH of your hair. From processing, hot tools, to standard shampoo routines, your hair often fluctuates in acidity. But the cuticle sealing properties of both treatments shift the balance back to a neutral state that is best suited for your strands. This, as Casanova states, also aids in split end repair and ultimately healthier hair. “I’m personally a fan of Redken Shades EQ [hair gloss] because it’s specifically formulated to restore the hair’s natural pH,” she says.

Cosmetically speaking, a hair gloss can be a more favorable way to maintain your color without the creeping concern of grey hair new growth. As a permanent treatment, the color simply fades instead of growing out and can temper the decimation line between grey roots and the rest of your colored strands.

What To Expect At Your Appointment

“A gloss is always going to be a maintenance appointment,” says Cox. With the overall purpose of adding vibrancy and shine back to your hair, the majority of the service — either gloss or glaze —will typically take place at the shampoo bowl. According to Casanova, after washing the hair and drying with a towel, the gloss or glaze is applied and left to sit from anywhere between 10-30 minutes. “Once the time is up, the stylist then rinses the product from the hair, conditions it and that’s it,” she says. In that vein, Cox quips that blowouts are not usually included with gloss or glaze treatments, so you should plan in advance to add it to your service.

How To Care For Your Hair After A Hair Gloss Or Hair Glaze

Regardless of choosing a hair gloss or hair glaze, it’s important to remember that color treatments of any kind need to be managed properly at home. “Over-washing is the number one cause of fading color and it’s an even bigger issue when it comes to these temporary treatments,” says Cox. That said, you’ll want to ensure that your hair care routine post-treatment includes a shampoo that is free from both sulphates and sodium chlorides. To her clients she recommends Saphira’s Mineral Moisturizing Shampoo followed by K18’s Molecular Repair Hair Mask.

Casanova also agrees and states that in addition to decreasing the frequency that you’re washing, you should be mindful of the temperature and quality of the water in your shower. “Avoiding hot water while rinsing your hair can make a world of a difference in helping your hair gloss or glaze treatment to last as long as possible,” she says. As is the case with any hair color service, emollient-rich products should also be incorporated into your regimen because hydration is the key healthy and shiny hair.