Haircare trends come and go but the one we can all get behind is hair glossing. We’ve seen clever toners that help to fine-tune color and shine-boosting products that promise instantly shiny hair, but hair glosses combine the two to create salon-fresh lengths that feel ridiculously soft and look expensive even when you’re weeks behind on your appointment. The best part? A hair gloss benefits absolutely everyone, regardless of hair type, texture, color or condition.
What is a hair gloss?
Tinted hair glosses, in essence, are semi-permanent colors with larger dye molecules that sit on the outermost layer of the hair shaft. You can also get clear glosses which simply nourish and restore shine without changing the tone.
While both glosses and glazes work in a very similar manner, it’s the color saturation that differs. ‘A glaze offers a lighter touch with less color deposit,’ says colourist extraordinaire and the pioneer of at-home hair glosses, Josh Wood.
You’ll often find vibrant, Glasto-ready hues such as cobalt or rose pink in glaze form. These work best on blondes or those with lightened hair.
How does a hair gloss work?
It’s all in the molecule size and accompanying nourishing ingredients. Because the semi-permanent dye molecules in tinted hair glosses are larger and sit on top of the hair, it does the hard work of coating any signs of fractures, brittleness, or dryness of the hair cuticle.
It’s like a top coat for nail varnish. (The molecules) cling to the outside of the hair so when you dry your hair, the color on the outside looks incredibly lustrous and shiny,’ explains Wood. Modern hair glosses are also infused with conditioning ingredients such as shea butter and plant oils.
What’s the difference between at-home and in-salon glossing treatments?
Most reputable salons offer glossing treatments as an add-on. Getting it done by an expert means that they can tailor the tinted gloss to either correct or enhance your hair color.
Plus, some in-salon glossing treatments use professional products that offer longer-lasting shine. Redken ShadesEQ Gloss lasts up to 20 washes. It’s the perfect product for clients who don’t want to fully commit to coloring their hair or for clients who are new to color,’ says Paul Bingham, colorist at Larry King Salons.
Elsewhere you can book Wella Shinefinity Treatment (from £20) as either a speedy 10 minute glow-up or a longer, bespoke, damage-free color retouch.
Who should use a hair gloss?
The beauty of hair glosses is that it benefits all hair types and conditions. You can even use tinted ones on untreated hair to add dimension or opt for a clear gloss for a hi-def shine.
There’s just one caveat: straighter hair types will naturally see a more obvious shine. ‘Curly, wavy and coily hair types don’t have a large surface area for a gloss to reflect as much light,’ says Aveda UK technical and texture educator, Leah Hill.
But this doesn’t mean the hair isn’t healthy. Due to the ingredients of a gloss, wavy, coily, and curly hair will certainly benefit. You’ll feel like the hair’s been deeply conditioned and it’ll enhance your colour.’
How do you use an at-home hair gloss?
First, thoroughly cleanse your hair to remove any build-up of oils and impurities. Then, apply the glossing product in sections from root to tip (slip on some gloves to avoid stubborn stains). Certain glossing treatments are loaded with moisturizing ingredients so you can go sans conditioner.
Josh Wood highly recommends using a comb to evenly distribute product, especially if you’re using a tinted gloss on lightened hair as there is a risk of patchiness. ‘If you have long hair or if you’re blonder at the ends than the roots, start with the darker sections as it’s less porous,’ advises Wood.
Applying on wet hair will make distributing the product easier (hence promising a more even coverage). Most products will recommend leaving on for up to 20-30 minutes for best results. If you have very dark hair, applying on dry strands or leaving it on for longer will help intensify the color payoff.
How long do the results last?
It depends on how often you shampoo, but most at-home glosses last around 6-10 washes. In-salon glossing treatments will have your hair glistening for about 6-8 weeks.
How often should you use a hair gloss?
Hairstylist and T3 ambassador Laura Polko recommends using an at-home glossing treatment once a month to maintain your color between salon appointments or to revive lackluster locks. Heat has a tendency to dull your color over time too, so if you’re loyal to your curling tongs, it’s worth incorporating a hair gloss every fortnight.
Which hair gloss should you reach for?
Thanks to brands such as Glaze, Josh Wood and Aveda, there’s a myriad of glossing products at your fingertips. Here’s how to pick the right hue for your hair.
All hair colors including untreated hair:
Clear hair glosses are essentially woke-up-like-this hair in a bottle. It imparts all the shine and softness without depositing color. It’s the tinted moisturizer of hair glosses, leaving you with brighter, healthier locks.
Josh Wood’s Smokey Brunette Gloss helps to neutralize any red or orangey tones while Chocolate Brunette gives a beautiful richness to dark hair that’s looking a little flat. Meanwhile, deep auburn hues such as Glaze Glacé Cherry are great for creating depth and enhancing the sienna undertones in black hair color.
Cool, lilac tints such as Aveda Color Renewal in Cool Blonde and Wella Color Fresh Mask in Pearl Blonde counter brassiness and keep blonde hair looking fresh. In the mood for a subtle change? Try Josh Wood Peach Blush Hair Glaze for a summery vibe.
Going red has never been so popular (thanks Sophie T!) but it’s a color that fades faster than you can say ‘Jessica Rabbit’. Up the vibrancy of your red with Wella Color Fresh Mask in Copper Glow or look to Josh Wood’s dedicated line of glosses for red hair. Both work on natural redheads too.
Are there long-term benefits to hair glossing?
Yes! Whether you opt for at-home glossing or in-salon, regular treatments will help restore hydration, strength, and of course, shine. ‘They condition and heal the hair all while adding colour,’ says Wood.
Can you use tinted glosses to cover grays?
In short, no. You need a permanent hair color (to cover greys). You need something that opens the cuticle layer of the hair up to allow the molecule to flow inside the hair,’ explains Wood. What it can do, however, is give your hair extra oomph if you decide to lean in to the silver.