Ahhhhh. Who doesn’t want a shiny, lustrous mane? Glossy hair signals sex appeal and vibrant health. Unfortunately, women with curly hair have a much harder time getting their curly locks to shine than their straight-haired sisters do. Why is that? Well, a lot of it has to do with light reflection. When light hits a smooth surface, it automatically bounces back off and our eyes register the reflection as shine. Curly hair, by its very nature, tends to absorb rather than reflect light because of its texture. There are tricks to making curly hair shinier, however…
First of all, your curls must be hydrated! Unfortunately curly hair is dry and porous by nature. Those porous areas of your strands need to be filled with moisturizing agents. Think of this (in simplistic terms) as spackling those areas with conditioner. There are several ways you can wrangle in come extra moisture:
What To Do
Use a Leave-in Conditioner – After cleansing your hair (with a sulfate-free shampoo), rinse and then apply conditioner. Leave some of it in your mid shaft and ends when rinsing. If your regular conditioner feels too heavy, there are many others on the market that are specifically sold as leave-in. After applying it, don’t rinse it all out. Over time, you will need to leave less of it in your hair because the moisture level will steadily improve. As this happens, you will see a higher level of shine as well.
Deep Condition with Hair Masques – Use a moisturizing masque twice a month. I’ll tell you a highly effective way to do this, right after I tell you a quick secret. You can get the same (or better) results from using a masque twice a month than you can from paying for an expensive in-salon conditioning treatment. Getting an occasional deep conditioning treatment is like getting an occasional facial. It helps a little (can’t hurt, right?), but the true and best results come from consistency. The women who attribute their glowy skin to facials are the ones who receive them every 4-6 weeks without fail. If you want to see a true, lasting change in the shine level of your hair this is what to do:
- Apply a quality moisturizing hair masque, then wind plastic wrap around your hair. This allows the heat from your scalp to open up the hair’s cuticle and let the conditioning agents penetrate. Pick a day to do this every two weeks, say, when you are cleaning house.
- Leave the masque on for an extended period of time (the longer the better). Your first thought is bound to be that it seems like a hassle, but I’m here to tell you that this WORKS! It is only twice a month and I promise you will see results if you do this consistently over time.
Restore Luster and Shine with Emolliating Oils – It has been scientifically proven that certain oils can penetrate the hair shaft and reach the cortex of the hair to nourish and lubricate it. Some of the more popular ones include Argan Oil, Coconut Oil, Avocado, Lavender and Rosemary Oils. These oils actually penetrate and reach the cortex of the hair. As the oils lubricate the strands, the rate of moisture loss is impeded.
Use a Demi-permanent Hair Color Instead of Permanent Color – Did you know that dark hair shines more than lighter hair? If you are considering going darker, or changing your hair’s tonal color, be sure to have your stylist use a demi-permanent color. First of all, demi-permanent tints use less ammonia and peroxide than permanent color. Not only are they infinitely gentler on your precious curls, but the color fades tone-on-tone. It never becomes brassy or an undesirable off-shade. On top of that, they have conditioning agents built in that will give your hair added shine. They will not contribute to excessive porosity and this type of color also fills in the porous areas which give it a noticeably shinier appearance.
Treat Yourself to an In-Salon Clear Gloss Treatment – If you are hesitant about changing the color of your hair, there are clear glossing treatments available. These treatments work the same way that demi-permanent colors do but instead of adding pigment, they are designed to add shine.
What NOT To Do
Misuse Conditioners – It is important to mention several no-no’s at this point. Sometimes what you don’t do is as important as the proactive measures you take. The first warning involves using conditioners properly. Conditioners fall into two categories: moisture and protein. Please do not confuse them. A moisturizing conditioner can be left on your hair for an extended period of time, even overnight. A protein conditioner should not be left on for more than 10 minutes. After that, it will begin to make the hair brittle. Please be aware of this when you are purchasing your conditioners and masques.
Settle for Silicones – Another no-no for for curls is the use of silicones. Silicones do add shine, however they also create a seal around the cuticle layer which prevents moisture from penetrating the hairshaft. Curly hair needs to retain moisture, right? Silicones are a quick fix to create shine on luscious curls, but in the long run they just compound the problem by preventing your textured tresses from receiving the hydration that they need. Besides that, they often leave a cumulative residue that is difficult to get rid of without the use of sulfate-laden shampoos.
In summary, you want to keep your strands plumped with moisure. This ensures that they won’t be dried out and thirsty. Parched hair is frizzy hair. Frizzy hair in turn does not present a smooth surface for light to reflect off of. As a curly girl, you are lucky because you don’t need to get your hair cut as often as your straight-haired sisters. Take advantage of the fact that you are saving money on haircuts and invest in a high-quality leave-in conditioner and hair masque. Armed with a little knowlege and and a nurturing hair regime, you can truly get those curls to gleam.
Seeking more curly hair advice? Check out my top tips for caring for naturally curly hair here.