Hair Gloss vs. Hair Glaze: What's the Difference?

Spoiler: Both treatments will make your hair unbelievably shiny.

Hair Gloss

Getty Images

When your hair colorist asks you whether you want a gloss or a glaze, they're not offering you a doughnut. They're referring to your hair, and given that you're in their chair at the salon, that makes the most sense – although a mid-appointment treat would be nice.

In the beauty world, hair glosses and hair glazes are treatments that add shine back to your hair, among other benefits, but they do have some small differences that are important to consider. Below, find out what both treatments entail, how long they last, as well as at-home products you can try at home.

The Difference Between Hair Glaze and Hair Gloss
Getty Images

What Is a Hair Gloss?

Hair glosses and hair glazes sound the same, but they have some pretty big differences. For starters, a hair gloss treatment is usually a service done by a hair professional at a salon. "This treatment adds noticeable shine to the hair, and can also dip into the cuticle to deposit color and prevent your newly-added hair dye from falling dull," explains Goldwell Stylist, Steven Picciano. Most of the time, hair glosses take the form of a treatment or a mask that's applied to the hair for a certain amount of minutes and then rinsed out.

"With a color gloss, we can customize and enhance natural tones, softly blend gray hair, neutralize unwanted warmth, or create the most perfect shades of blonde," he explains. "Most color lines also have a clear as well, so if you love your natural color and just want to build in shine that's possible, too."

Results of salon glosses should stick around for about four weeks. Picciano prefers to use Goldwell Colorance's gloss system, which lasts about four to six weeks, or for about 20 shampoos.

Redken Shades EQ Gloss is another popular gloss product used by colorists at the salons. Since the gloss fades gradually over time, it's a good way to try a new color without making a full commitment or doing damage on your hair. Redken's formula is also ammonia-free, so it's gentle on strands.

If you're rocking natural or textured strands, Jennifer Lord, hair designer and author of Natural Hollywood, tells us that a gloss will add shine for a polished and finished look. "The benefit of a gloss is that it brings out the shine on natural hair which otherwise absorbs rather than reflects light," she tells InStyle.

What Is a Hair Glaze?

A hair glaze is a non-permanent treatment color treatment that adds shine to hair and can help with flyaways and frizz. Think of it as a deep conditioning treatment that seals in color and tones it.

When it comes to natural or textured hair, Lord says the service is typically applied through a rinse. Basically, the glaze is a deposit of color that will sit on top of the hair. "The benefit of glaze is that it has no harmful chemicals and fills in gaps of the potentially damaged hair shaft allowing the hair to feel conditioned and moisturized," says Lord.

Hair Gloss vs. Hair Glaze: What's The Difference?

While hair glosses and hair glazes are extremely similar, there are a few key differences. A gloss is great for shifting colors, neutralizing brassiness, and blending grown-out roots, plus boosting shine. On the flip side, a glaze is ideal for adding shine to the hair and making frizzy hair more manageable, with a hint of toning.

The other factor is the lifespan of the treatments. Leland Hirsch, hair colorist and founder of Celeb Luxury, says glazes typically don't last as long as a gloss. "They are both temporary non-committal treatments that will fade on their own," says Hirsch. "The biggest differentiation between a gloss and a glaze is its lifespan. Glazes have no ammonia or peroxide, so will last in the hair up to one week, whereas a gloss can last up to four weeks."

The Best At-Home Hair Gloss Treatments

There are a few at-home options that might not last as long, but have a more reasonable price-tag than something you'd find in a salon. Celebrity hairstylist Kristin Ess developed a Signature Gloss Treatment available in multiple shades, as well as clear, which neutralizes brass, adds shine to the hair, and deep conditions. Another option is DpHue's Color Boosting Gloss + Deep Conditioning Treatment, a multi-tasking treatment that adds color and conditions the hair.

Lord's favorite at-home gloss treatment for textured hair is Bread Beauty Supply Hair Oil "because it's light and smells amazing," and is enriched with kakadu plum to smooth and shine curls.

But if you're looking for an even cheaper and simpler at-home treatment, Lord suggests looking around your kitchen. Oils like coconut or olive can deliver a similar result as a gloss.

The Best At-Home Hair Glaze Treatments

Colorists can use different types of products to give you that glaze-like result — for example, Hirsch uses GemLites and Viral Colorditioner by Celeb Luxury. While Lord recommends seeing a professional for a glaze for an all-over and even application, there are also other at-home versions of this treatment, like the Living Proof Color Care Whipped Glaze and Oribe Glaze for Beautiful Color.

The Bottom Line:

A hair gloss or hair glaze can be a wonderful add-on treatment to your color service or one that's done in-between color sessions to maintain your color and boost shine. Which one you get depends on the current state of your hair and your desired results. Whichever one you choose, a color-safe shampoo and conditioner with bond repair technology, like Redken's Acidic Bonding Concentrate, will help keep hair strong and healthy.

Related Articles