The big lie about shiny hair. And 5 honest truths.



“Gosh, your hair is so… dark,” I said to my 20-year-old niece trying to pretend I didn’t see her new three-line wrist tattoo. Her hair was jet black. Very few can get away with that. Even the very young and beautiful.

“My real colour is shit. It’s like yours but not as shiny. Just brown and shit.”

I quickly rebuffed her “compliment.” My hair isn’t shiny, especially since half of it is still bleached and covered in brunette semi-permanent while the roots grow out.

“I can only get shine from very dark hair, that’s why I dye it so much,” she insisted.

Oh, you gorgeous fool. This is simply not true. I concede darker hair will tend to look shinier because when the light shines on it, there is more contrast between the hair and the shine, but blonde hair can shine if it’s looked after, and styled right. (And brown hair can be dull if it’s not.) Allow your wise Aunty to teach you a thing or two, and try not to notice that she has spilled dressing all over her lap while she does so…

1. Healthy hair shines.

Your hair finds it very difficult to shine when it’s damaged, chemically processed, or you slam it with heat styling every day. So, get trims and use treatments. Use them at least weekly. The easier they are to use (ie, fast and in-shower) the more likely you’ll do it. Find a simple mask you can substitute for conditioner so that you don’t even really notice it’s happening, and go for one with some lovely conditioning oils within like O&M Seven Day Miracle Moisture Masque or Pantene Pro-V Nature Fusion Rinse-Off Treatment. And always, ALWAYS rinse your hair off with cold water, which closes the cuticle and gives the appearance of a shinier hair strand. It does! It really does.

TIGI Bed Head Masterpiece Massive Shine Hairspray

2. Colour it right.

If permanently dying your hair at home, choose a product with a highly reflective, luminous finish, such as L’Oreal Feria. If you just want to boost shine without the commitment, a high shine semi like Garnier Herbashine or a clear gloss like John Frieda Luminous Glaze which is suitable for any hair colour or condition, natural or not, and is tops for a quick in-shower shine kapow.


3. Straight hair is shiny hair.

A flat cuticle is highly light reflective. Which is annoying for curly-haired ruffians like me, but we can all get the look if we can be arsed. The key is to use hot tools and be thorough. Start with mousse all over damp hair before blow-drying it smooth. Then, going over, section-by-section first with a finetooth comb, followed by your straightener. Just like they do in the salon. Now, spray all over, from a good 20cm away, with a shine boosting hairspray, like TIGI Bed Head Masterpiece Massive Shine Hairspray or Aveda Pure-Fume Brilliant Hair Spray. Do NOT use a shine serum! These are to be used (sparingly) on wet hair, and will make your hair lank and heavy looking if used on dry hair. Finish with an all over blast of cool hair from the hairdryer. (If you prefer curly hair, use a leave-in conditioner all over, and once dry, mist on a finishing shine spray like evo love touch shine spray, avoiding the roots.)

4. Dry your hair right.

No more fluffy towel – use an old, soft cotton t-shirt, which keeps the hair cuticles flat as you dry, and don’t rub the hair, just dab and pat it dry. (Especially good tip for curly girls.) Then add a drop or two of shine serum before drying either naturally, or if you’re blow-drying, be sure to point the nozzle down the hair shaft, and go from root to tip again, to keep that dang cuticle flat

5. Walk under bright lights a lot.

Seems to work for the models in shampoo ads.

You can also find out Zoe’s tips on how to make your hair look longer here and 3 ways to update your hair for spring here.

Zoe’s Amazing Face

Zoe Foster is an author, columnist and porridge fan. Her books include the beauty bible Amazing Face, dating and relationship guide Textbook Romance, and three novels, Air KissesPlaying The Field and The Younger Man. Find more info on Zoe Foster here, or supervise on her daily procrastination here and here.

Please understand that Zoë Foster cannot respond to ALL your questions – but never fear, there are readers that are bound to know the answers, so don’t be afraid to ask.

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