If you’ve ever gotten your hair dyed, you know how much of a difference hair gloss can make to the look and feel of your resulting color. Yes, it adds shine, but the best hair glosses can be actually such an important step in your color routine—almost as important as finding, say, the best shampoo and conditioner or leave-in conditioner for your colored hair. Thus, we spoke to celebrity hair colorist Olivia Casanova to find out exactly what to look for in a great hair gloss, how to use hair glosses and glazes to enhance the look of your color at home, and her personal favorites.
What Is Hair Gloss?
"Hair glosses are typically semi-permanent hair colors that can darken, richen, add shine, or change the tone of the hair,” says Casanova. “The only thing glosses can’t do is make someone lighter.”
Who benefits from hair gloss, you ask? Ideal candidates for gloss are those with color-treated hair that's lost a bit of its luster. For instance, hair glosses can especially benefit blonde hair that's gotten a little brassy or brunette hair that's dulled or gone ashy.
The Difference Between Hair Gloss and Hair Glaze
Simply put, the main difference between a hair gloss and a hair glaze is the potency of each product. A hair gloss is what it sounds like—a product that only touches the surface of the hair—while hair glosses penetrate strands as a semi-permanent hair color. Casanova says that hair gloss “usually lasts around 28 shampoos,” while glazes tend to only last up to five washes or so.
Can You Use Hair Gloss at Home?
If you were looking for a super-simple way to keep your hair color in check without ever having to stop by the salon, I have some bittersweet news: Casanova recommends trusting a pro to do your hair gloss for you, explaining that it’s easy to “ruin your color or damage your hair” if you happen to mix the wrong products together.
However, if accessing a salon is impossible or prohibitively expensive, she recommends brands like dpHUE that have a range of hair glosses designed to be used at home and don’t contain peroxide or ammonia.
This just means that the glosses will fade out of your hair over time. But don’t worry–that’s actually a good thing, especially if you’re in the mood to try out a new shade.
“If doing so, just remember to apply to clean and even sections of the hair starting from the roots to the ends," Casanova advises. "Make sure to set a timer and thoroughly shampoo after."
Can Hair Gloss Damage Your Hair?
When used correctly, hair glosses are unlikely to cause damage to your hair. Some forms of hair gloss—often used as a color depositing shine for salon use—that are not damaging at all. This is because as opposed to hair toners or other types of color-depositing mixtures, many hair glosses don’t require hydrogen peroxide or other types of chemical developers.
Best Hair Glosses and Glazes
- Best Color-Enhancing Hair Gloss: BUMBLE AND BUMBLE. Color Gloss
- Best High-Shine Hair Gloss: IGK Expensive Hi-Shine Gloss Treatment
- Best Conditioning Hair Gloss: Oribe Glaze for Beautiful Color
- Best Silicone-Free Hair Gloss: BREAD BEAUTY SUPPLY Mini Everyday Hair Gloss Oil
- Best Overall Hair Gloss: dpHUE Gloss+ Semi-Permanent Hair Color and Deep Conditioner
Best Editor-Approved Hair Gloss
"I don't like to mess with my color—I prefer to leave my fake blonde-ness to the pros. But when I'm need of a little extra shine and have no time to head to the salon, it's always dpHue to the rescue. I love the Gloss + Sheer because it's able to make my color look fresh and shiny without messing with the tone."— Samantha Holender, Beauty Editor
"I try to get to the salon for fresh color every couple of months, but when my budget is especially stretched thin, I turn to this gloss instead. In just twenty minutes, my dye job is instantly refreshed for a fraction of the price at the salon, plus my hair is left shiny as can be. I've found that one bottle has at least four or five applications, too." -Brooke Knappenberger, Editorial Fellow
Pros: editor-approved; conditioning; generous amount of formula
Cons: contains silicones
Customer Review: "I use a quarter size of this every other shampoo and my bottle has lasted forever. Even when I only leave it on for a few minutes, the color deposits quickly so it's fine, and it doesn't get on my shower (unlike other color conditioners I've used that stained my shower)." -Ulta
The Colorist's Pick
"As far as glazes go, I love the IGK color depositing masks, especially because they have 'fun' shades,” says Casanova of this vegan, cruelty-free option. “They make it easy to experiment with color without any commitment.” You can shop IGK Color Depositing Masks in 12 shades, including natural shades of brown, black, and blonde, as well as vibrant colors like deep purple and bright pink. Customers love how gentle this mask is, too, writing that it leaves their hair feeling super soft.
Pros: vegan; cruelty-free; works on all hair types
Cons: contains silicones
Customer Review: "It works great on wet or dry hair. It gives the most beautiful shine. I have used many products like this over the years and this is by far my favorite." -Ulta
The Colorist's Pick
Redken's beloved Hair Gloss, another of Casanova's favorites, comes in a ton of colors, so you're bound to find one that matches the hue you got in the salon and can say goodbye to constant trips to touch up your color. It’s also free of ammonia and bleach, making it a gentle option for anyone with breakage or high porosity hair, and it promises to leave strands looking shiny. It’s also meant to correct hair that’s been damaged by factors like chlorine and strong sunlight—a plus for any hair aficionado fresh from vacation.
Pros: affordable; contains ingredients like coconut oil
Cons: small container
Customer Review: "Easy on your hair, customizable and never fails to provide just the right shade." -Walmart
Best Hair Gloss for a Glassy Sheen
If your hair color is brand new—or you're just looking for enhanced shine—try Bumble and bumble's clear formulation to enhance and correct your shade. Conversely, if it’s been a minute since you stepped in the salon, you can check out the brunette, red, or two shades of blonde (warm and cool) to intensify fading pigments. However, reviewers warn against using any clarifying shampoos in tandem with this product, as the former can strip the tone from your hair and undo the product's work.
Pros: works on all hair types; enhances tone and shine; free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates
Cons: contains silicones; strong smell
Customer Review: "I LOVE the cool blonde gloss. This is my go-to before special occasions to make my color look new. Make sure your hair is coated in it. I have long hair and get probably 5-6 uses out of a bottle (but only need to use it every couple of months, so it lasts for a while)." -Sephora
Best Hair Gloss for Curly Hair
Unlike most brands on this list, Oribe has a hair gloss for the curly haired folks, with a gloss gel that reviewers attest helps define hair while coating softly for crunch-free curls. Its hydrating ingredients, which include passionflower extract, Brazilian jicama, and cupcuacu, keep strands soft and curls defined on wash day and beyond. It’s also free of potentially drying agents like silicones, parabens, sulfates, SLS, and SLES, so you can rest assured that using this gloss won’t negatively impact your long term hair health.
Pros: silicone-free; works well on curly hair; fights frizz; lightweight
Cons: contains fragrance, which may be drying for some users
Customer Review: "I have fine, 3B curls - this provides definition without weighing my hair down. Definitely worth a try if you have fine, frizzy curls." -Sephora
Best Hair Gloss For Fine Hair
"I am obsessed with this treatment from IGK. Whenever I want to make my hair look extra, well, expensive, I apply this to the lengths of my hair for an extra boost. It's like the healthiest hair treatment in an easy-to-apply cream. Pro Tip: Apply it in the shower and then leave it in in lieu of a leave-in-conditioner if your hair is fine or gets oily easily." — Julia Marzovilla, E-Commerce Writer
Pros: works on all hair types; enhances shine; editor-approved; reduces frizz; vegan; detangling
Cons: contains silicones
Customer Review: "I have long waist length hair and deal with a lot of tangles. I have tried every hair mask I good think off and while nourishing did nothing for tangles. This product I keep coming back too as it is the only product, after a washing, that I can slide a comb through my hair. I also air dry my hair and I am not left with frizzy hair. For the tangles alone, this product is a huge win for me." -Sephora
Best Hair Gloss That's Also a Weekly Treatment
You can use this option from John Frieda at the end of a shower for enhanced shine, whether your hair is color treated, balayaged, or au natural. Conversely, you can work the gel into completely dry strands and leaving it on for 20 minutes before washing out thoroughly with (preferably cold or cool) water. The effect? Luminous. Multiple reviewers love it for this formula quick, noticeable results, and for the softening effect it has on their hair.
Pros: easy application; noticeable results; softening
Cons: some customers find results aren't long-lasting; contains fragrance and silicones
Customer Review: "This is the first product I used before I started dying my hair. It's really simple to use, just apply , rinse & go. Overall I have always been happy with the results of the glaze. It left my hair very sleek & shiny. Only thing is I wish the results lasted a bit longer. I found I had to reapply quite often to still see results. It wasn't as noticeable as a salon glaze treatment of course, but for an at home option it was a very pretty choice for my hair." -Ulta
Best Hair Gloss With A Two-Part System
This has become a cult favorite among hair color fanatics for a reason: It's that good. There are 11 deliciously named color options (winter wheat, anyone?) that are meant to be applied on clean strands that are still damp—but not soaking wet—from the shower. Simply combine the two bottles and allow to set for up to 20 minutes. The brand promises results will last up to three to four weeks, but reviewers write that noticeable results can last up to even five weeks.
Pros: cruelty-free; inexpensive; color- and keratin-safe; silicone-free; boosts shine; long-lasting
Cons: some reviewers report a drying effect on scalp and hair growth, so may not be suitable for those with scalp irritation
Customer Review: "Having repurchased FOUR times, I can absolutely say that I LOVE this product. It’s perfect for in between my coloring appointments to give my hair an extra boost of tone and shine!" -Target
Best Hair Gloss for Medium and Coarse Hair
With over 4,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, this gloss from Kenra is designed to smooth frizz and curls for a silky end result. "I have thick coarse hair that is always knotted no matter if I brush it,” reads one glowing review. “This stuff made my hair so soft, shiny and I could run my fingers through my hair.” For best results, the brand recommends pumping two to three pumps into palms before smoothing it onto hair in sections. Once applied, apply gentle heat.
Pros: smooths frizz; protects hair from humidity; enhances shine; works well on curls
Cons: feels slightly sticky
Customer Review: "I added this product to my straight hair routine for my 4A/4B waist-length hair. It provides so much shine and smoothing power to my hair. I also love the smell and it's weightless. I use it again and again for some of my styling and my hair still moves freely!" -Ulta