What Is A Hair Gloss Treatment? What To Expect + DIY Options
While it would be nice to get a fresh color treatment every other month or so, your wallet and strands might suffer the consequences. Still, it’s fair to crave that freshly-colored, shiny look year-round.
Luckily, hair gloss treatments can help your hair look good as new, without doing a full process. To come, what these treatments entail and how to choose between salon-grade treatments and at-home glosses.
What is a hair gloss treatment?
“Hair gloss is an in-salon service that provides a tonal change to the overall look and feel of the hair,” says master stylist and founder of äz Craft Luxury Hair Care Rodger Azadganian.
He adds, “It can be used to refresh faded ends of a single process or used to change unwanted tones in hair as it does penetrate the cuticle.” It can also be used to gently deepen hair color in between treatments.
“Glossing services leave the hair shiny with a change in depth and tone all while helping to condition and maintain the integrity of the hair for flexible changes,” Azdaganian notes.
What are the hair gloss types?
There’s more than just one kind of gloss, and the service you choose will depend on how long you want it to last, your current hair color, and where you go.
- Color gloss: Most glosses will be semi-permanent and offer slight tweaks in your hair color. These can be used to eliminate unwanted brassy tones, achieve a richer color, or go a bit darker than the color you have now—whether that color is artificial or natural.
- Clear gloss: Then you have clear glosses, which provide the same shine and luminosity benefits, without the color depositing. So if you love your hair color but need a refresh, go with a clear gloss.
Hair gloss vs hair glaze
In another category, you have hair glazes. “Glazing services sit on the outside of the cuticle and offer minimal tonal changes and maximum shine and condition,” Azadganian explains. Here’s what makes them unique:
- How long they last: “A glaze is basically a semipermanent color that coats the hair shaft with shine and lasts up to a few washes," celebrity colorist and Redken brand ambassador Matt Rez previously told mbg. On the flip side, glosses can last anywhere from 12 to 20 washes or up to a month.
- Damage risk: Because hair glazes don’t open the hair cuticle, there’s less risk of damage. So if you’re nursing your hair back to health from heat damage or color damage, opt for a glaze.
- Change in color: If you want to boost shine right before a big event but don’t want to risk coming out with a different color, a clear glaze is better fit as it won’t change your tone.
Who should get a hair gloss: 7 benefits
Not sure you want to invest in a gloss treatment? Here’s a few hair situations that can benefit from it:
- You have dull and damaged hair: If your hair looks dull, a gloss will bring it to life instantly. The lack of shine could be caused by excessive use of hot tools, years of chemical processing, etc. A gloss will be less damaging than a full-process color treatment (especially one that involves bleach), so it’s a healthier choice for your strands.
- You want a color change: If you want a color change without a full-process, a gloss will help. Especially for those with brunette hair colors, a gloss can take your strands from a medium brown to a rich, dynamic color in one go.
- You want more shine: One of the main benefits of gloss treatments is the ultra-shiny finish. So if your strands aren’t reflecting the light quite as much as you’d prefer, get a gloss.
- You want to fine-tune your tone: If you just got your hair done but aren’t in love with the tone (say it’s too cool or too warm) a gloss can help level it out without going through another full process.
- Correct brassiness: Both brunettes and blondes can experience brassy tones, both of which can be corrected with a simple gloss.
- You’re on a budget: Gloss services are less expensive than full-processes, but can still provide a change in color and hair appearance. So if you need a switch up on a budget, a gloss treatment is a good idea.
- You want to test out a color: If you’re hesitant to commit to a permanent color change and want to test the waters, try a gloss first.
What to expect from a professional hair gloss
Before you schedule your gloss appointment, you’ll want to know what to expect.
- The prep: identify what tone you're after and come in with a photo to reference with the colorist. Come to the appointment with your hair as you typically wear it.
- The process: your stylist will use a developer and processing solution. They typically apply this to the hair after it’s been washed and often slightly dried with a towel. Then, they will rinse it out and follow up with a blowout should you choose.
- Timing: The process itself takes 10 minutes to half an hour, but you'll want to factor in washing and blowout timing as well. From start to finish, expect about an hour.
- How long it lasts: 12 to 20 washes
- Cost: range anywhere from $30 to $150.
Want more info on what to expect? We get into details here.
The hair gloss prep & process
Before you go in for your gloss, it’s best to have an idea of what you want. “It is important to confirm verbiage regarding these services with your stylist to make sure you’re getting the right thing for your hair type and texture,” Azadganian explains.
For the best results, come in with the hair as you typically wear it (so they know your hair texture as is) and a reference photo for color matching. Be sure you find an image that shows the right tone (warmer, cooler, neutral) and let them know if you want it a bit different than seen in the reference image.
When showing the professional the image, be sure to talk about it. Folks see and express color differently: What's a chocolatey brunette to you, may seem a bit auburn to another. So point out what you like about it, the tones you see, and how you'd like the final result to look like.
Talking about the image—not just showing it—will help you and the colorist get on the same page.
When you go in for your gloss, your stylist will use a developer and processing solution. They typically apply this to the hair after it’s been washed and often slightly dried with a towel. Then, they will rinse it out and follow up with a blowout and style should you choose.
How long does a hair gloss take?
Another perk of getting a gloss is that it’s fairly quick as far as salon treatments go. It can take anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour to apply the gloss at the wash bowl depending on your hair texture, how your stylist applies it, etc.
The whole appointment will last around an hour or so including the wash, gloss, and style.
How long does a hair gloss last?
A gloss treatment will last up to four weeks, anywehre from 12 to 20 washes, Rez said. Using color-safe shampoo and you tending to your hair's moisture needs via nourishing leave-in conditioner and hair oils will help extend the life of your gloss.
For those booking a gloss for a big event, do it a few days before to ensure your color is at it’s best.
How much does a hair gloss cost?
How much a gloss costs depends on where you’re located, the salon you visit, and what your stylist includes in the session. This could range anywhere from $30 to $150.
Urban areas like Los Angeles and New York City tend to have steeper prices for gloss treatments (amongst other hair services) but often include styling with the treatment.
If you want to save money, ask your stylist if they can skip the styling step and give you a few bucks off. Not every salon will accommodate this request, but it’s certainly worth a shot.
At-home hair gloss
If you want to test out a hair gloss without spending big bucks, give at-home treatments a shot. Directions on each product will vary slightly, but generally, you’ll apply them to damp, freshly cleaned hair and let them set for a few minutes to half an hour.
When you apply them, be much more through than you would be with a hair mask or conditioner to ensure the color goes on evenly. If you want a shine refresh without the color change, opt for a clear gloss or glaze product.
At-home gloss treatments
Signature Hair Gloss
Glaze for Beautiful Color
How long does a hair gloss last?
A gloss treatment will last up to four weeks, anywhere from 12 to 20 washes, Rez said. Using color-safe shampoo and tending to your hair's moisture needs via nourishing leave-in conditioner and hair oils will help extend the life of your gloss.
Is gloss damaging to your hair?
A hair gloss treatment does penetrate the cuticle of your hair, so there is a slight risk of damage. This will be less invasive than full-color processing. If you already have damaged strands, opt for a hair glaze instead as that sits outside of the cuticle and will nourish dull and dry strands.
Does hair gloss add color?
Hair gloss treatments do deposit color, unless you opt for a clear glaze. If you want to correct brassiness, fine-tune your tone, or deepen your hair color, go with a color-depositing gloss. If you love your color as is but want to add shine, opt for the clear gloss.
Hair gloss treatments can add shine, refresh color, and correct tone in your strands. These come in both color and clear options, and can even be done at home with gloss products. Not sure if a gloss is right for you? Chat with your stylist about what you’re looking for and other options. For other ways to boost shine in dull or dry strands, check out this guide.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends, holistic skincare approaches, must-have makeup products, and inclusivity in the beauty industry. She currently lives in New York City.