When clients ask about a diet for shiny hair, Bethesda health counselor Chris Weintrob recommends foods rich in biotin, a form of vitamin B (found in egg yolks, almonds, and Swiss chard); silica, a trace mineral associated with healthy hair (in leeks, garbanzo beans, strawberries, and cucumbers); and omega-3 fatty acids, which prevent dry scalp and dull hair (in walnuts, ground flaxseed, chia seeds, and fatty fish such as salmon).
Take a Pill
B-complex vitamins like biotin can be an antidote to lackluster hair, as can iron supplements, says DC dermatologist Tina Alster. Sometimes there’s an underlying cause such as anemia, so if your hair is lifeless and you’re losing strands, it’s best to see a doctor. Pregnancy vitamins, which contain biotin and iron, have gotten buzz as shiny-hair promoters, but pregnant women have another thing going, says Alster—estrogen, which makes hair gleam.
More often than not, dull hair needs deep conditioning, says Tina Alster, who advises investing in a good conditioner such as Kérastase. Even better—a leave-in conditioning mask: “You want to moisturize. Light will be reflected and you’ll end up with a lustrous sheen.” She also advocates a hat to protect hair from ultraviolet light—the sun is a real shine-zapper.
A clear, semi-permanent glaze can seal the hair cuticle and add shine in about 20 minutes, says Kerry Durbin, head colorist at DC’s Immortal Beloved. Or you can opt for a glaze with a bit of color to add depth as well as a boost of shine between trips to the colorist. Redheads, blonds, and those coloring gray strands see the most benefit. Glazes last four to six weeks.
Straight hair reflects light more easily, one reason why salon services such as Brazilian Keratin Treatment and Japanese straightening deliver hair with sheen. But there are other routes. Karina Costantino of Salon Daniel swears by the Thermafuse F450 Amino Fusion Smoothing Treatment, which defrizzes, smooths, and adds shine. It lasts three to four months, is formaldehyde-free, and starts at $350 at Salon Daniel.
For a quick fix, shine sprays and serums work wonders. Kerry Durbin suggests using them on the lower half of your strands to avoid a greasy scalp. She’s partial to Oribe Supershine Moisturizing Cream ($49 at bluemercury.com) and John Frieda Frizz-Ease serum ($8.99 at drugstore.com). For a natural approach, Chris Weintrob suggests the same coconut oil used in cooking: “Rub some on your hands and run it over your hair.”