Hair glosses may have once been reserved for salon use only, but now we have multiple DIY options available, and in less than 20 minutes in the comfort of our own bathroom, we can transform our hair. “Think of gloss for your hair like gloss for your lips: it’s a more translucent, but tinted overlay of shine,” says Shvonne Perkins, lead educator at Madison Reed. “We use glosses to either add in tones we want to see more of or use ash glosses to cancel out tones we want to see less of, like using an ash brunette gloss to get rid of redness. Glosses are great because they are easy to use at home, don’t raise the cuticle of the hair—causing damage—and do double duty to provide tone and shine.”
Glosses are trending because they work on all hair types, as well as both color-treated or natural (non color-treated) hair. However, they’re not meant to cover grays, so don’t count on that benefit. They’re also pretty foolproof, unless you use a dark gloss on light hair, which may create a funky result. If this were to happen, or if you just generally don’t like the results of your gloss, you can typically use a clarifying shampoo to remove the color.
“The best way I can explain at-home hair glossing is this: It’s like a less-intense version of what your colorist would use,” says celebrity colorist Kristin Ess, founder of her eponymous hair brand. “Depending on which gloss you choose, these treatments are incredible for keeping unwanted tones out, the right tones in, or simply boosting shine in a major way. And as a professional colorist, I can tell you that what we use in-salon is much more powerful and should be left to a pro!”
These are five at-home hair glosses that bring color back to life between salon appointments and add luster to natural hair.
Kristin Ess Hair Signature Hair Gloss ($15)
“I always recommend that my clients come to get glossed and toned between salon visits to extend the life of their color,” says Ess. “I’m finally able to give them, and you, something that is easy to use at home. This in-shower treatment [it comes in nine shades] is formulated to instantly boost vibrancy and shine. It will help you keep your color looking fresh, shiny and healthy between appointments.”
How to use it: Pour bottle 2 into bottle 1, shake it up and apply it all over wet hair in the shower. Wait 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the result you want, and then rinse really well. Then shampoo and condition per usual.
L’Oréal Paris Le Color Gloss ($15)
Available in 16 shades, this vegan, in-shower toning gloss helps correct brassy, faded color, and give hair glass-like shine. The coconut-oil base is super conditioning, so it also makes hair feel super smooth. There’s up to three applications in every tube, and the color will last up to 10 days.
How to use it: Shampoo your hair, squeeze out excess water, then detangle your hair (I like to use a wide tooth comb). Distribute the gloss evenly all over your hair, from root to tip (I like to use the same comb for this step too). Leave it on for five to 15 minutes (refer to the included instructions for specifics on the optimal development time for your shade and desired result) and then rinse it out thoroughly.
Madison Reed Color Reviving Gloss ($30)
Infused with keratin, argan oil and ginseng root extract for a major boost of shine and softness, this cult-classic formula comes in seven semi-permanent shades and one universal clear shade. Whether you want to warm up your hair or cool it down (when brassiness becomes too much to bear), it gives faded strands a noticeable pick-me-up.
How to use it: On dry, detangled hair (brush it through beforehand, especially if you have styling products in your hair). Put on the gloves that come with the gloss, and then apply the gloss from roots to ends. Leave it on for 20 to 35 minutes, depending on the result you’re after. Rinse very well to remove all product, and then shampoo and condition.
dpHUE Gloss+ ($37)
In addition to the rich, pigmented shades (there are 11 and one clear one), one thing I love about this color-rejuvenating gloss is that it comes in a pump bottle, so it’s easy to use in the shower—no dropping caps or mixing bottles. The temporary color boost generally lasts four weeks if you wash a couple times a week (not every day), but the brand recommends using it weekly to “maintain healthy shine.”
How to use it: After shampooing and rinsing, apply to damp hair. Leave on for three to 20 minutes and then rinse thoroughly. Note: If you’re using a darker shade, wash your hands with soapy water right after applying to avoid staining your hands (or wear gloves).
Pureology Color Fanatic Top Coat + Tone ($35)
This gloss is the go-to for gorgeous, reflective shine, and it only takes five minutes to process, which means you can exfoliate and shave your legs, and then your hair is done. Key ingredients include smoothing vegan oat milk and conditioning camellia oil, and the warm floral scent with notes of rose, ginger and cedarwood will linger in your hair. It comes in five shades (plus clear), and it lasts up to eight washes!
How to use it: Shampoo and rinse, wringing out excess water. Twist open the nozzle applicator and gently squeeze product onto your hair in sections from the front to the back of your head. Comb the product into your hair to distribute the gloss evenly from roots to ends, let it sit for five minutes, and then rinse it out well. You may not need to use conditioner because the gloss contains nourishing benefits, so choose according to your hair type and level of damage.