Open up your computer and type “how to get shiny hair” into your favorite search engine. You’ll quickly find that while everyone seems to want smoother, shinier strands, there’s not much consensus on how to (reliably) get it. Some say that washing your hair in cold water is a surefire way to add shine; others insist that 100 strokes of your hairbrush will give your hair a glossier appearance. In reality, most of these supposed hacks aren’t much more than myths. The only real way to get sleeker-looking strands is by taking care of your hair—and choosing the right products for your hair type is a huge part of that.
Thankfully, even if you weren’t blessed with naturally silky strands, shiny hair is within reach. Here, we’ll teach you what you need to know about caring for dull, dry hair and introduce you to eight staples to add to your haircare routine. Keep reading for the Kiehl’s guide to scoring sleeker, shinier hair.
What Is Shiny Hair?
When we describe hair as “shiny,” we’re referring to its luminosity, or how much light it reflects. Hair that reflects light well has a sleek, glossy appearance, whereas hair that reflects light poorly is usually described as dull or lackluster.
How shiny your hair appears depends on its overall structure. Each strand of hair consists of two main components: the cortex and the cuticle. The cortex is the innermost layer, and it accounts for the bulk of your hair fiber. Surrounding that is the cuticle. This outermost layer consists of numerous overlapping keratin fibers and gives your hair its visible characteristics, like texture and shine. Damage to the cuticle can cause the hair to take on a rough, dull appearance.
What Causes Dull Hair?
Damage to the hair cuticle is the primary cause of dull-looking hair. Typically, this damage results from excessive use of hot tools or chemical processing, friction from brushing your hair, and even excessive sun exposure. Your hair’s color and texture also influence how shiny it appears: Research shows that dark, straight strands tend to reflect light better than light hair with waves or curls.
7 Kiehl’s Must-Haves For Shiny-Looking Strands
Knowing what can cause your hair to look dull is only half the battle—you also need to learn how to address it. Read on to discover eight of our best products for sleek, shiny strands.
Shiny Hair Staple #1:
Amino Acid Shampoo
A good shampoo is essential for soft, shiny-looking hair. We recommend lathering up with a gentle, non-stripping cleanser like Amino Acid Shampoo. The creamy formula, which contains coconut oil and amino acids, cleanses while helping to impart softness and shine. It’s suitable for all hair types and is available in a range of sizes, including one-liter refills for those seeking a more sustainable option.
Shiny Hair Staple #2:
Damage Repairing & Rehydrating Shampoo
If your hair’s dull appearance results from excessive damage, try seeking out a repairing shampoo. Damage Repairing & Rehydrating Shampoo is a great option for those with weak, brittle hair. The hydrating formula with hyaluronic acid and ceramides gently cleanses while helping to repair dry and damaged strands. It also helps smooth and fortify the hair, leaving your mane looking healthy and lustrous.
Shiny Hair Staple #3:
Amino Acid Scalp-Detoxifying Treatment Scrub
Those who use styling products regularly should make an effort to deep-clean their strands once in a while to remove buildup—the presence of which can seriously diminish your hair’s luster. To detox your scalp and hair, swap your shampoo for Amino Acid Scalp-Detoxifying Treatment Scrub once per week. This unique scalp scrub, which boasts a blend of ten amino acids as well as sea salt and salicylic acid, helps remove dead skin cells, excess oil, and product buildup to refresh the scalp and hair. It also helps nourish and re-balance the scalp’s moisture levels, providing an ideal environment for strong, healthy hair.
Shiny Hair Staple #4:
Amino Acid Scalp-Restoring Treatment Mask
To help further keep your scalp and hair hydrated and healthy, add a weekly scalp mask, like Amino Acid Scalp-Restoring Treatment Mask, to your haircare routine. The mask deeply nourishes the scalp and helps protect it from external aggressors, like heat and chemical processing. Over time, it also helps reinforce the hair at the root, leaving your strands feeling healthy and full.
Shiny Hair Staple #5:
Amino Acid Conditioner
The primary purpose of conditioner is to lubricate the hair and add softness, making your strands more manageable and easy to comb. But the right conditioner can also help smooth your hair and boost shine. For a lightweight option, try Amino Acid Conditioner. This Kiehl’s favorite helps maintain hair’s natural moisture balance, leaving it strong and full of shine. Apply a generous amount after shampooing and leave the treatment on for a few minutes before rinsing it off.
Kiehl’s Tip: For the best results, pair your conditioner with the coordinating shampoo. Products from the Amino Acid line will work wonderfully together because they’re formulated to do so.
Shiny Hair Staple #6:
Damage Repairing & Rehydrating Conditioner
For more intense moisture, particularly if your hair is dry and brittle, reach for Damage Repairing & Rehydrating Conditioner. The rich formula with olive oil and moringa tree oil instantly detangles and conditions fragile hair without weighing it down. Over time, it also helps repair brittle strands damaged by stressors, like heat and chemical processing, leaving your tresses looking smooth and glossy.
Shiny Hair Staple #7:
Smoothing Oil-Infused Leave-In Concentrate
Oils can help protect your hair from damage, smooth your strands, boost shine. But if you’re using oils, it’s important to use the right kinds—and to apply them judiciously to avoid giving your hair a greasy appearance. We recommend using a leave-in treatment made with hair-friendly oils, like Smoothing Oil-Infused Leave-In Concentrate. Made with fairly-traded argan oil, this nourishing styling aid helps smooth dry, dull hair without weighing it down. Comb the treatment through damp hair to boost softness and shine, or apply a small amount to dry ends to refresh your style between washes.
Source I. Velasco, Maria Valeria Robles et al. “Hair fiber characteristics and methods to evaluate hair physical and mechanical properties.” Brazilian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences vol. 45, 1 (2009): 153-162.