1. Stimulate the scalp
Getting shiny hair is impossible without a healthy scalp. Your hair grows out of the scalp, so any dryness, itchiness, and product buildup will prevent your hair from growing strong. One of the easiest (and most pleasant) ways to promote scalp health is through a scalp massage.
A scalp massage loosens any buildup and stimulates the blood flow in the scalp. One 2016 article even found that a scalp massage can promote hair growth.
You can learn to massage your scalp on your own either with your fingertips or with the help of a scalp massaging brush - it only takes 5 minutes every day. To massage your scalp, simply press your fingertips against the scalp and make small circular motions, moving from one part of the head to another until you cover the entire scalp. Avoid scratching the scalp with your nails - this can damage the scalp.
2. Rinse your hair with rice water
Never throw away the water you use to wash rice. Instead, pour it into a bottle and save it for later. This starchy rice water is actually really good for the hair - a trick Japanese, Chinese, and Southeast Asian women have been using for centuries. Rice water contains vitamins and minerals essential for hair strength and growth, namely folic acid, magnesium, allantoin, niacin, inositol, and selenium. Inositol and amino acids, in particular, increase the shine, volume, and elasticity of the hair.
Use rice water once or twice a week as the last step of your in-shower hair-washing routine. Pour the rice water over the hair and scalp, and gently massage the hair and scalp to make sure it gets absorbed. Let the rice water absorb for about 10 minutes while you’re washing your body or just soaking in the bathtub, and then rinse with water as usual.
3. Use hair oil
If you need instant shine, a drop or two of hair oil is your best bet. Applying hair oil is the fastest way to moisturize your hair and seal in those cuticles. There are many hair oils available at drugstores and beauty supply stores today, but you can even give any lightweight natural oil a go - both jojoba oil and rosehip oil are good options that will not make your hair greasy.
When applying hair oil, it’s important to start with a small amount and focus the oil only on the ends. Using too much or putting hair oil on the hair roots can quickly make your hair look too oily. You don’t need to use hair oil daily - just apply it when the ends of your hair look dull or dry.
4. Sleep in a protective hairstyle
A protective hairstyle is a way to reduce friction and damage to your hair when it’s in contact with your pillows and blankets. Bedding can damage the hair over time and suck out the natural moisture from your strands - both of which will make it look dull.
A protective hairstyle looks different depending on the type and length of your hair. People with long and straight or wavy hair can loosely braid their hair before going to sleep. Those whose hair is shorter or curly benefit from wearing a satin bonnet or wrapping their hair in a scarf before bed. Make sure to pick a smooth and shiny fabric like satin or silk for this purpose - it reduces friction and static the best.
One last alternative for those who don’t feel like braiding or wrapping up their hair is sleeping on a pillowcase made of silk or satin. Apart from protecting the hair, a satin pillowcase is also beneficial for preventing wrinkles on the face.
5. Reduce the heat
Do you use a lot of hot tools, such as curling irons, hair straighteners, and blow dryers on your hair? Heat damages the hair cuticles. It is one of the biggest enemies of shine and healthy hair, so using these tools daily isn’t a good idea if you want your hair to be shiny.
Heat-styling or blow-drying your hair from time to time is fine, but make sure to never crank the heat up to the highest setting. One research paper also found that using your blow-dryer by holding it at least 15 centimeters (6 inches) away from the head and continuously moving the blow-dryer in circular motions is the least damaging method of drying your hair. Extra tip: flip the hair and blow-dry it upside-down. This reduces the damage to the top layers of the hair that already get the most damage.
6. Clarify the scalp weekly
Clarifying shampoos and rinses work to remove product buildup from the scalp and hair. Hair products, mineral buildup from hard water, dust, and dead skin cells can all pile up and matte down the hair. Scalp buildup also contributes to scalp issues like itchiness and dandruff.
Picking up and clarifying shampoo at the nearest drugstore or using a simple apple cider vinegar rinse once a week can clear away any buildup and keep your strands shiny and squeaky clean.
To make your homemade apple cider vinegar rinse, simply combine 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with 2 cups of water. After washing and conditioning your hair, rinse the hair thoroughly with the mixture, and you’re done. You will notice the extra shine and volume in your hair almost immediately!
7. Get frequent trims
You may have noticed that the roots of the hair are always much healthier than the ends. There’s a simple reason why that happens - the ends are exposed to more pollution and damage than the roots, so they’re weaker, thinner, and less shiny. A haircut can trim off those old and fragile ends, giving your hair both a more well-kempt and healthier appearance.
To keep your hair in tip-top shape, trim short and fine hair at least once every 1 to 2 months and long or thick hair every 3 to 4 months.
8. Wash hair with lukewarm water
The hair is in its most fragile state when it’s wet. During this time, the hair cuticles are more pliable and stripped of their natural oils at the same time, which makes them more likely to split or fall off the hair strands, especially if you’re exposing them to high heat.
Washing your hair in hot water will only promote damage and frizz, which is the opposite of what you want to achieve shiny hair. For this reason, hairstylists recommend rinsing and washing your hair with lukewarm water instead of hot water.
9. Brush hair daily
Let’s be clear - daily brushing isn’t the best tactic for every hair type out there. People with curly locks don’t need to brush their hair every day or even every other day. Still, daily brushing is a very useful technique for those who have straight or slightly wavy hair, as it pulls all the natural oils from the scalp down to the ends of the hair.
By redistributing the natural hair oils from the scalp to the hair length, you will make your hair look healthier and shinier over time. Make sure to use a soft and dense brush for this task, such as a boar bristle brush. The softness of the bristle will prevent scalp damage, whereas the high bristle density will do the job of redistributing the oils more quickly and effectively.
10. Add intense shine with this flaxseed treatment
Rice water isn’t the only natural hair treatment capable of enhancing the shine of your hair. Flaxseeds are also filled with nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and vitamin E that help seal the hair cuticle, making your hair less frizzy, stronger, and glossier.
Needless to say, eating flaxseeds can help nourish your hair from within, but there’s also an effective flaxseed hair mask we want to share with you. To prepare the mask, you’ll need to combine ¼ cup flaxseeds with 2 cups of water in a small pot and heat the mixture over low/medium while continuously stirring. When the mixture thickens to the consistency of an egg white, take it off the heat and continue stirring.
The last step is pouring the mixture through a cheesecloth or strainer and collecting the gelatinous clear mixture in a container. Apply the clear gel on dry hair and leave it on for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Lastly, wash with shampoo and condition the hair as usual. The result is visibly shinier and healthier-looking hair. You can reserve any leftover flaxseed gel mask in the fridge for up to a week.
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