Getting Shiny, Glass-Like Hair Is Easier Than You Think

Experts reveal their secrets.

Originally Published: 
How to make hair shiny

With styles like liquid and glass hair sweeping the internet in recent years, it’s obvious that everyone is on a quest for shiny strands. Reaching viral status, these looks are more than just flash-in-the-pan trends, and while there is an abundance of products dedicated to delivering a glossy finish, learning how to make your hair shiny from the inside out will also ensure it’s healthy. Think about it: Coating your stands with shine spray or hair oil may be a quick fix, but the results are temporary and will wash away the next time you shampoo and condition your hair.

“In terms of hair, the shine is determined by how well it’s able to reflect light,” says Anabel Kingsley, trichologist and president of Phillip Kingsley. She explains that like any surface, the exterior of the hair shaft reflects light best when it is smooth and flat — and the smoothness of your hair is largely reliant on the health of its layers. While styling products are important for enhancing and amplifying your look, you’ll want to ensure that your hair's natural shine capabilities are intact.

Ahead, TZR spoke with a few experts ranging from hairstylists to trichologists to find out once and for all how to get shiny hair.

What Makes Hair Shiny?

There are a few aspects that play a role in determining shine, like the scalp (more on this later), the products you use, and the condition of your hair strands. While each factor is important, the outermost cuticle layer is the most impactful because it allows the hair to reflect light and appear shiny. According to Kingsley, “The cuticle, is composed of overlapping cells that, when healthy, are tightly cemented together and lie flat like tiles on a roof. This gives the strand light-reflecting abilities.”

She continues telling TZR, that the strand’s epicuticle, which is composed mainly of fatty acids, also plays a role in how it mirrors the light. “Designed to protect the cuticle against damage, the epicuticle coats each strand, adding slip and making it easier to manage and more reflective.” As you can likely gather, these layers need to be smooth in order to produce maximum shine.

The condition of your scalp is also integral to maintaining shiny strands, as it’s where hair health begins. “Creating a routine that prioritizes scalp health can be beneficial as it can affect the circumstances and structure of the hair strand as it emerges from its follicle,” says Kingsley. A flaky or dry scalp can weaken the integrity of the cuticle and impact its abilities.

How Hair Type Affects Shine

Curl patterns can alter the way your hair takes to the light as the tightness of the curls themselves often determine how the cuticle naturally lays. But hairstylist and colorist Cassandra Olivia, notes that your body’s levels of sebum production also come into play. “Oils created at the scalp travel down the hair shaft increasing the natural shine of your hair,” she says. While the occurrence isn’t contingent on hair type, Olivia notes that sebum does travel down straight hair easier than curly or textured hair, which is why moisture-rich products are required to achieve a glassy finish.

“Different hair types give way to variations at the cuticle level that can impact how shiny the hair will be,” says Min Kim, stylist and L’Oréal Professionnel global ambassador. For instance, tighter curl patterns may have cuticle layers that are naturally more raised than others, which can cause the appearance of the strands to appear less shiny.

Does Shiny Hair Always Equal Healthy Hair?

High shine is often associated with healthy hair, and for the most part, the connection between the two is valid. “At the cuticle level, damage that causes the cuticles to roughen will decrease its light reflecting abilities and make the hair lose its sheen,” says Kinglsey. That said, dull hair doesn’t always mean unhealthy and shiny hair can just as easily be damaged. For example, using a flat iron and applying smoothing serums may make it look instantly shinier, but the long-term damage of repeatedly straightening your hair will diminish its luster and overall health.

In that vein, Olivia notes that natural shine, occurring without the use of additional products, is likely only to last a few days after you wash your hair. “When the cuticles are in good condition and your scalp is healthy, the natural oils will eventually cause the hair to get oily and look dull over time.”

How To Get Shiny Hair

A healthy hair and scalp care routine are crucial if you want glossy strands that shine bright, but there are several things you can do to boost their potential. “Reparative professional in-salon treatments that deeply penetrate the hair shaft to restore damage is a good place to start,” says Olivia. For her clients, she often performs the LEAF + FLOWER 3-in-1 CBD Molecular Mender + Corrective Boost service, which helps keep hair smooth through several rounds of washes.

Similarly, Sarah Sango, hair specialist and in-house stylist for Lush, notes that salon-grade masks administered by your stylist will also be beneficial in helping you achieve a maximum level of natural shine. “Given that hair density and porosity can affect the way the light reflects, taking advantage of certain deep conditioning and treatment services can be best to close and flatten the cuticle,” she says.

At home, Sango, recommends using a reparative conditioner, such as Lush’s Power Conditioner, and rinsing your hair with cool water in the shower. “This may be a basic tip, but it’s important for sealing the cuticle to keep moisture in and eliminate frizz.” Maintaining your natural shine outside of the salon is possible with the right care. “It’s very easy to be harsh to our strands as they don’t have nerve endings and so it’s hard to tell when we’re being too rough,” says Kingsley. But by limiting the use of hot tools and incorporating conditioning products such as pre-shampoos, bond building treatments, and lightweight oils that replenish your hair’s natural lipid layer, she assures that shiny hair sans glosses and sprays is possible.

This article was originally published on