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Is hair gloss the same as color?

What is Hair Gloss?

Hair gloss is a semi-permanent conditioning treatment that coats the hair shaft with a shiny finish to make hair appear smoother, softer and shinier. Hair gloss contains ingredients like silicone, dimethicone and polymers that help fill in gaps in damaged hair and smooth the cuticle.

The main benefits of hair gloss include:

– Adds shine and reduces frizz
– Smoothes damaged cuticles
– Seals the hair to lock in moisture
– Protects against environmental damage
– Prevents color fading

Hair gloss is available as clear glosses or colored glosses that can enhance or change the color of the hair slightly. Clear glosses simply coat the hair for added shine and do not affect the color. Colored glosses may deposit a sheer tint to make hair appear richer, brighter or shinier. The colors are temporary and will wash out over several shampoos.

Some key differences between hair gloss and permanent hair dye:

– Hair gloss is semi-permanent and washes out over time, while hair dye causes a lasting chemical change in the hair strand.

– Hair gloss sits on top of the hair cuticle, while permanent dye penetrates into the hair cortex.

– Hair gloss results in minimal to no color change, while permanent dye significantly alters hair color.

– Hair gloss fades out gradually and subtly over 4-6 weeks. Permanent hair dye does not fade out on its own.

– Hair gloss is usually ammonia-free while permanent hair dye contains ammonia to open the cuticle and allow the color to deposit inside the hair.

What is Hair Color?

Hair color refers to any product that makes long-lasting changes to the natural pigment of the hair. Permanent hair color uses a chemical process to penetrate into the hair cortex and alter the natural melanin pigments. This produces a lasting color change that does not fade or wash out over time.

There are three main categories of permanent hair color:

– Permanent dye – Uses ammonia and oxidation to fully penetrate the hair cortex and produce permanent color changes. Provides 100% gray coverage. Lasts 4-6 weeks before regrowth becomes visible.

– Demi-permanent dye – Uses lower levels of developer and ammonia for gentler processing. Deposits permanent color but washes out gradually over 24-26 shampoos. Blends gray hair.

– Semi-permanent dye – Contains no ammonia or peroxide. Coats the outside of the hair for a temporary color change that washes out in 4-8 shampoos. No gray coverage.

Permanent hair coloring is done in three stages:

1. Pre-treatment – The cuticle is opened with ammonia so color can penetrate into the cortex.

2. Coloring – The color is mixed with hydrogen peroxide which acts as the developer or oxidizing agent. This facilitates the color change inside the hair.

3. Post-treatment – The cuticle is closed and the hair is rinsed. Color is sealed with a conditioning product.

Permanent hair color provides longer lasting color change, 100% gray coverage and versatility to achieve natural looking tones, highlights and dimension. However, it requires more commitment as it cannot simply be washed out with shampoo. Re-growth is visible after 4-6 weeks.

Key Differences Between Hair Gloss and Hair Color

Hair Gloss Hair Color
Semi-permanent treatment Permanent chemical process
Sits on top of hair cuticle Penetrates into hair cortex
Subtle to no color change Significant color change
Washes out in 4-6 weeks Does not wash out
No ammonia Contains ammonia
Minimal damage Can cause damage if not done properly
Shiny, glossy finish Color finish
Prevents fading Requires touch-ups as color fades
Subtle color enhancement Dramatic color change

Can Hair Gloss be Used on Colored Hair?

Yes, hair gloss can be safely used on colored or highlighted hair. Since hair gloss coats the outside of the hair, it will not interfere with the permanent hair color.

Some benefits of using hair gloss on colored hair:

– Adds shine to color-treated hair, which can become dull over time

– Seals the cuticle over permanent hair color for longer lasting vibrancy

– Helps smooth damage from coloring services

– Prevents color fading caused by sun, chlorine, hard water, etc.

– Refreshes color between permanent touch-ups

– Blends regrowth by depositing sheer color around roots

– Enhances dimension of highlights and lowlights

When applying hair gloss to colored hair, it’s best to choose a formula that matches closely to your permanent shade. For example, brown hair would use a chocolate or espresso gloss. Blonde hair would use a pale gold or champagne gloss. This will prevent the gloss from altering the permanent color.

Always do a strand test before applying hair gloss to colored hair. Let the gloss process for 10 minutes then rinse and dry the strand to check the results before applying it all over.

Can Hair Gloss Cover Gray Hair?

Hair gloss provides minimal gray coverage compared to permanent hair color. Clear glosses will not cover gray hair at all. Colored hair glosses may help blend in gray hairs temporarily by staining the white hairs with sheer color, but results will be subtle.

The colored pigments in hair glosses are designed to deposit just on the outer cuticle of undamaged hair. Since gray hair has a rougher, more porous cuticle, glosses tend to have difficulty gripping the gray hair properly.

Additionally, gray hair lacks melanin pigment, so there is no underlying pigment for the gloss to grab onto. This makes the sheer color easily fade after just a couple washes.

While not the best option for significantly gray hair, gloss can help:

– Soften the line of demarcation if roots are just starting to gray

– Minimize the appearance of sparse gray hairs scattered throughout

– Add shine to gray hair to lessen the dull, matte appearance

– Provide temporary tonereffects between color appointments

For longer lasting gray coverage, it’s best to use demi-permanent or permanent hair color designed specifically for gray hair. The hair dye contains opaque color pigments and developers that can successfully penetrate and alter the gray hair from within for complete coverage.

How Long Does Hair Gloss Last?

On average, the results of a hair gloss treatment will last 4-6 weeks. Hair gloss is considered a semi-permanent treatment because the color and effects gradually fade over time with regular washing and environmental exposure.

Factors that influence the longevity of hair gloss:

– Hair condition – Gloss lasts longer on undamaged, smooth hair compared to porous, damaged hair.

– Chemical services – Frequent use of bleach, color, perms, relaxers cause gloss to fade faster.

– Hair type – Smoother hair types like straight and wavy hair hold onto gloss longer than very curly coils.

– Shampooing – Frequent shampooing will cause the gloss to fade out more quickly.

– Sun exposure – UV rays can cause oxidation and fading of the gloss.

– Heat styling – Excessive heat from tools like blow dryers and irons can accelerate gloss fading.

– Products – Oil treatments and volumizing products can loosen the gloss coating over time.

– Water – Swimming or washing in hard mineral water can dissolve and fade the gloss.

While most glosses last about a month, doing a gloss treatment weekly or bi-weekly can help prolong the results. Using a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo and limiting heat styling helps maintain gloss between applications.


In summary, hair gloss differs from permanent hair dye in that it simply coats the hair shaft without altering the internal structure of the hair. Hair gloss results are temporary, subtle and focus on adding shine and smoothing the cuticle. Permanent hair color causes lasting chemical changes to the natural pigment inside the hair for dramatic color transformation.

While hair gloss can enhance colored hair, it does not provide the same level of gray coverage as permanent color. However, gloss offers an option for low maintenance shine between permanent hair dye touch-ups. With proper application and aftercare, hair gloss can provide 4-6 weeks of frizz-free, luminous locks.