After a long summer of salt water, humidity, heat and other stuff that’s *great* for your locks (just kidding) we put together this list of tricks to get your hair in tip-top shape—just in time for the long, dry winter ahead.
1. Know how to wash your hair the right way.
The shampoo bottle may say “lather, rinse, repeat,” but that recipe is definitely not for everyone (or even most people). For the healthiest-looking locks, start by rinsing your hair in the shower. Then, rub a quarter-sized amount of shampoo into your roots (more for long or thick hair) and give yourself a good massage; no need to scrub your ends or repeat! Next, rinse your hair and condition it from mid-length to ends, letting it sit for a couple of minutes, then give it another rinse. If you’ve heard that giving your hair a final rinse with cold water will leave it extra-shiny, ignore that: Experts agree that the cold-water-rinse theory is a tall tale. Dry your hair by squeezing it gently with a towel; rubbing it vigorously will cause breakage and strip away all of your glorious shine.
If you have light-colored hair, your mop will look shiniest right after it’s been washed. Darker hair will hit peak glossiness one day after a deep condition, according to Marcy Cona, global creative director for Clairol.
2. Skip the shimmering sprays and opt for argan oil instead.
While you might think that spritzing on a little shimmering spray is a quick way to gloss up your locks, you could actually be doing more harm than good. According to InStyle, many hair sprays that promise to add a little sparkle to your mane include mica, a mineral that will indeed make you shimmer in the short-term, but can also “rough up the hair shaft and work against your natural gleam” over time. Instead, the magazine recommends using products that contain argan oil, which will make your hair look shiny and also improve its texture. Just be sure you start with a small amount—fine hair can quickly start to look oily.
3. Give your scalp a massage with vitamin E.
The next time you’re at Whole Foods, pick up a bottle of vitamin E capsules. At home, snip off the ends of about a dozen capsules, squeeze the oil into a bowl then give yourself pre-shampoo massage with the (admittedly sticky) substance. According to cosmetic and plastic surgeon Dr. Stafford Broumand, vitamin E can help to increase circulation to the scalp (studies have even shown that ingesting vitamin E can increase hair growth) and massaging your locks with the oil can make your hair feel stronger, and look shinier and healthier.
4. Use a natural-bristle hairbrush.
For best results, you’ll need a 100% wild boar-hair brush (sourced humanely, of course). These stiff, rough-feeling brushes will draw natural oils from your roots to the ends of your hair, promoting natural gloss and shine. Plus, they help to increase volume in fine hair—double score!
5. Eat some omega-3 fatty acids.
Grab yourself a bottle of Caesar salad dressing and start eating: Omega-3 fatty acids are found in egg yolks and sardines (both ingredients in a classic Caesar) and they’ll make your hair shine like whoa. Salmon and mackerel also contain large amounts of these healthy fats, so have some fish as a main course with your salad.
6. Use a clarifying shampoo, but not too often.
Your hair can easily get full of, well, crap, and that makes it look less shiny and way more dull. Between the products we apply (including dry shampoo), the oils we secrete and the dirt and grime we pick up in our everyday lives (ew, thanks, city life) our hair sometimes needs a little extra help in the cleansing department. That’s where clarifying shampoos come in: They strip out all of that unwanted nonsense and leave your hair looking fresh and new. The only catch is they’ll also strip all the good stuff out of your hair if you use them too often, so once a week is probably more than enough. Aveda’s global artistic director, Ian Michael Black, recommends following up a clarifying shampoo sesh with a deep conditioner.
7. Try a glossing conditioner.
Gloss and Dirt founder and beauty maven Shannon Ray swears by glossing conditioners. She once wrote in Allure: “This shit is the truth.” And we believe her: People love this stuff on Amazon, and beauty writers praise it. As Ray says, when shopping for a glossing conditioner, “look for something that screams SHINE, SHINY, GLOSSY, FLOSSY BITCH all over it. That’s the ticket.” Or rather, buy one that has consistently great reviews, like Fekkai Glossing Conditioner or Ray’s fave, Molton Brown London Plum-Kadu Glossing Conditioner.
You could also try a salon glossing treatment if you’re feeling extra fancy.
8. Leave a little conditioner in curly hair.
Because of the shape of curly strands of hair, your natural oils have a hard time working their way from your scalp to your ends, which can leave your locks looking dry and broken. To bring a little shine back to curly hair, leave in some conditioner when you’re done showering. This will not only soften up your mane, it will also make it easier to brush while it’s wet (brushing curly hair dry can damage it, so try to do this when you’re fresh out of the shower). Marie Claire suggests twisting a little gel into your natural curl “clumps” and letting your hair air dry for the glossiest results.
9. Try heat-activated products.
If you blow dry, flat iron or curl your hair on the regular, it’s a good idea to protect it. While most styling instruments aren’t going to destroy your hair, heating up your strands can dry them out and leave your hair looking less-than-glossy. Before you fire up that flat iron, talk to your stylist about a protective product that will work for your hair type. Some of our faves include Paul Mitchell’s Heat Seal spray and Nexxus Heat Protexx spray.
10. Give your hair an overnight, shine-boosting mask.
Everything looks better after a good night’s rest, including your hair! Coating it with a loving and nourishing mask (and then sleeping with a towel over your pillowcase!) can get your hair looking shiny and healthy in no time. Coconut oil is a great overnight option: Just massage it through your hair from roots to ends, then pull it back in a braid or ponytail to keep it from getting all over your face while you sleep. In the morning, shampoo it out and skip the conditioner.
See you on the glossy side, gals.