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5 Tips for Your Shiniest Hair Ever

Posted Dec 27 2009 9:01pm

By futurederm Monday December 28, 2009

As promised, now covers the latest scientific information for your hair, skin, and nails – not just your skin.  :-)

The best way to think of your hair is like a series of mirrored ropes.  If you want those mirrors to shine, what would you do?  Keep them clean, guard them from damage, and maybe add a lustrous coat or two, right?  Well, the same goes for your hair.  Here are the top 5 tips I researched to get your hair its shiniest in 2010 and beyond:

Around for decades, cellophane shine treatments are relatively inexpensive ($50.00 or less in most areas), and only require upkeep of once every 4-6 weeks.  In the treatment, filling agents are deposited into the hair, which adds substance and shine by filling and plumping the shaft, and sealing the cuticle layer.  These treatments are best for you if your hair is partially damaged, as the plumping effect temporarily disguises split and frayed ends.  The treatments take only 30 minutes or so, and make a tremendous difference in the shine of your hair, particularly if your hair is dark (dark hair tends to reflect light more than lighter hair, though light hair has a nice brightening effect around the face). 

If you are looking for a less expensive, at-home version, Clairol Natural Instincts Shine Happy ($24.92 for 3, is a reasonable substitute, with a weekly conditioning treatment included to boost the effects.  While it is admittedly less dramatic than the cellophane treatments at salons, it is better than most shine serums and shampoo/conditioner combos.

Although polyquaterium-10 is proposed to improve the body and smoothness of the hair, a 1993 study published in the Journal of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists found that polyquaterium-10 leaves build-up residue in the hair, diminishing shine over time.  What’s more, the effect was found to be greater when fatty acids like myristic acid or sodium salts (and other positively charged compounds) were combined with polyquaterium-10 (as it is a negatively-charged chemical), forming a complex that left even greater build-up in the hair.

This effect is far less dramatic than a cellophane salon treatment, but making your final rinse ice-cold will seal your hair’s follicle, enabling it to reflect more light.

One of the most popular methods of increasing shine is regular application of shine serums, which surround the outer surface of the hair and reflect light.  

Silicones are amongst the most popular agents used in shine serums, and it has been shown in numerous studies to increase hair’s reflective properties.  However, silicones tend to be heavy, and can weigh down fine, straight hair.  Although silicones are continuously being developed to negate this effect, I would recommend them if your hair is curly/wavy and avoid them if you wish to give your hair additional bounce or volume.  One popular option is Citre Shine ($7.49,, with a silicone base and “frizz-fighting” components.  

Silk fibers in shine serums lay on the surface of the hair, and reflect light well.  The most popular silk-containing brand is Matrix Biolage Smoothing Shine Milk ($16.95,   The product is lightweight enough for most medium-textured hair, and controls minor flyaways and frizz for curly or coarse-texture hair.  

For fine, straight hair, the best option is most likely the new silicone-free shine treatments, such as the organic John Masters Shine On for Supernatural Shine & Softness ($30.00,  The aloe vera base helps to seal damaged hair, reducing the appearance of damage, and its lightweight formula is ideal for those who wish to use rollers or curling irons to give their hair additional volume.

In a perfect world, our hair would rapidly air dry and come with a natural UV shield to protect it from damage.  In the real world, everything from the sun to heat styling to toxic air pollutants to soap lays on the air, diminishing shine.  Add to that the fact that damaged hair reflects less light, and it’s a miracle anyone has shiny hair at all.

Fortunately, there are numerous UV shields and heat protectants to protect hair from the inevitable.  NIOXIN Smoothing Reflectives Glossing Shield ($14.99, works as both a silicone-based shine serum and UV shield.  As for heat protectants, one of my favorites is KENRA Thermal Styling Spray ($12.95,, which does double duty, protecting hair from the blow-dryer while locking in your style.  This also eliminates the use of other styling products somewhat, preventing unnecessary (and anti-shine) build up on the hair.

Another way to prevent damage is to use a boar-bristle brush.  These brushes redistribute the natural oils in your scalp throughout your hair, and may cause less damage to your hair than other types of brushes.  

Finally, prevent damage to your hair every way that you can:  Avoid excess sun exposure and heat styling; take long hair out from under the seatbelt; do not let hair get caught under purse straps, clothing, etc.  

Let me know your thoughts in Comments!  :-)

Photo source:
long black shiny hair!!

Originally uploaded by blessedprincess020 (flickr)

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