When I experimented being a blonde, I realized one crucial thing: that beautiful, glossy, freshly-dyed look I had when first leaving the salon fades fast. After a few washes, dullness can start to set in. If you want the impact of a just done dye job without the commitment, a hair gloss is your best bet. As a blonde, taking care of my hair became my second full-time job. Along with slathering myself in hydrating hair oils, making sure all my pillowcases are silk, and doing my best not to wreck my comprised hair, a hair gloss is essential to help me maintain long-lasting shine.
While a quick visit to your colorist is a tried-and-true way to get a salon-grade hair gloss, you can also do the process at home, with minimal skills needed. Ahead, Brad Mondo, Founder & Creative Director of XMONDO, and colorist Lucille Javier of New York’s Mark Ryan Salon share everything you need to know about this hair-saving treatment.
What is a hair gloss?
“An at-home hair gloss is typically a semi-permanent hair treatment that adds shine and benefits the overall health and softness of your hair,” says Mondo. It’s a temporary fix that can improve both the health of your hair and its shade. “Glosses typically help with shine and evens tones,” Javier says.
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What are the different types of gloss?
“Semi-permanent gloss is typically a professional product—pigment mixed with developer. Direct dyes have just pure pigment and stain the hair,” Javier says. She also notes that there are many types of hair glosses, which can be mixed to adjust your specific hair color. How often you use a hair gloss depends on the lightness and darkness of your color. It’s best to check with your colorist to determine your gloss treatment frequency.
While hair gloss is great for dyed or chemically treated hair, there are perks to glossing virgin hair, too. “A gloss can be clear or colored, depending on your desired result,” says Mondo. “You do not have to color your hair to use a gloss. If you use a clear gloss, it will not color your hair. It will only add shine and benefit the overall health of your hair.”
Can glosses be an alternative to dye?
“Yes for sure!” Javier says. “If you don’t have much grey, there are ways to blend in your color. Blondes can get away with glossing their hair in different tones, even if it’s just the ends. Also, if your hair is light enough, you can just deposit tone [to color correct].”
Can glosses help with handling brassiness or discoloration?
A gloss can help “fine-tune” a shade to be more even, dark, or even brighten the existing color. When done in a salon, “It’s mixed specifically for a client and their needs,” she adds. “I have clients who enjoy coming in for a gloss more frequently because of the high shine and the subtle difference in the hair.”
Though she advises you to ask your salon for the best recommendations, Javier broke down the following suggestions for dyed hair:
Red/strawberry blonde: “Red is one of the colors that fade very fast. Glosses [should be] more frequent depending on how saturated the color is. Dark red or auburn hair tends to need less color, while strawberry blondes need more upkeep.”
For dark/ light blonde: “Depending on the tone of hair—think of silver-blondes or very pale white—glosses tend to be done more frequently.”
For Darker hair: Javier says dark tones “can get away with coloring hair less often.”
To figure out which gloss is best for you, “You must first understand what your priorities are,” says Mondo. “Are you trying to cancel the warmth in your hair and make it ashier? Trying to go darker? If so, then you’re going to want to go for a colored gloss that has the desired result you’re looking for. However, if your only desire is to add shine and make hair look healthier, then a clear gloss is great for you.”
How often should you gloss?
Javier says that your glossing cadence depends on how complicated the color is, but every four to six weeks is a good rule of thumb. “The more you gloss, I believe you hold a higher standard to the color,” Javier claims.
How long does a hair gloss last?
“[The treatments] last about a month, using color safe-conditioner and using cooler temperature water keeps the color in longer,” says Javier. Generally, salon glosses will last a little longer. “When it comes to doing a clear gloss at home, typically they’re semi-permanent while in the salon they’re typically demi-permanent and mixed with a developer. Demi-permanent glosses or glazes can last longer because they penetrate slightly into the hair whereas an at home gloss lays on top of the hair,” says Mondo.
Are hair glosses treatments damaging?
Quite the opposite! Hair glosses not only improve the appearance of hair health through improved shine and hydration, but most also include ingredients that nourish weak or damaged hair.
Can you gloss your hair at home?
Yes! “You can definitely get a great glossing treatment at home,” says Mondo. “This is a fairly simple process, especially when using a clear gloss. All it takes is a quick wash of your hair, then apply the gloss and rinse it after about 20 minutes or as directed. It’s foolproof and as easy as using traditional hair conditioner. I recommend our XMONDO Super Gloss because it has incredibly beneficial ingredients.”
“When it comes to doing a colored gloss, the main difference is that at a salon you’re going to get a mixed formula custom to you and applied by an expert. You do not get that kind of customization at-home and you will end up with a more generic color.” But, when you use the right at-home product, “You’ll notice a massive increase in shine and strength in your hair post-treatment.”
Meet the Experts
Brad Mondo is a celebrity hairstylist, influencer, and founder of the haircare line XMONDO.
Lucille Javier is a New York-based colorist at the Mark Ryan Salon.
Why trust ELLE Beauty?
Tatjana Freund is ELLE’s Beauty E-Commerce Writer. She has interviewed countless haircare professionals, and is always testing out new and trending hair treatments.
Kristina Rodulfo is the Beauty Director of Women’s Health—she oversees beauty coverage across print and digital and is an expert in product testing, identifying trends, and exploring the intersections of beauty, wellness, and culture. Prior to Women’s Health, the Filipino-American, NYC native and NYU alumna was at ELLE.com for four years. As Senior Beauty Editor, she reported and co-produced the Webby Award-nominated documentary Beat: How Drag Queens Shaped the Beauty Industry and hosted the millions-viewed video series “Beauty Haul.” She can never decide whether or not to get bangs, feels naked without winged eyeliner, and will never shut up about running the NYC Marathon.
Beauty Commerce Writer
Tatjana Freund is a Beauty Commerce Writer, covering makeup, skincare, and haircare products and trends. She’s a fan of vodka tonics and creepy Wikipedia pages.