Unlike straight hair, which reflects light, our highly textured strands, with their glorious bends and turns, refract light, giving them a somewhat dull appearance. So, similar to those pesky single-strand knots and shrinkage, it kinda comes with the territory.  Some anecdotal evidence shared by sandy-brown divas on CurlyNikki.com speaks to this lack of shine as well as a proneness to dryness.  Check it out and weigh in!

While our highly textured tresses are not naturally shiny, we can turn to natural and commercial products to enhance what we do have and add a healthy sheen. Below, you’ll find some of the community’s best practices.

Aloe Vera Gel
Chemist Tonya Mckay shares: “Aloe vera gel has both emollient and moisturizing properties, meaning that it smoothes the cuticle surface and also attracts and seals in moisture. Despite having a relatively low amount of active ingredients on a molecular or weight basis (less than 1.0%), the specific combination and type of ingredients enable it to pack a significant punch. It imparts detangling and conditioning by forming a polymer film on the surface of the hair, thereby smoothing the cuticle. This film can also provide mild hold.”

Aloe vera gel’s ability to smooth the cuticle and seal in moisture may impart the healthy shine you seek.  This means that curlies should look for aloe vera in their products (especially their styling products) or even consider investing in a high-quality, pure aloe vera gel to experiment with in their future leave-in conditioner and gel recipes.

Cold-Water Rinsing
Many naturals turn down the heat and employ a chilly final rinse on wash day which can seal the cuticle for shinier, smoother results.

Juices and Berries
Natural oils such as coconut, olive and jojoba can enhance your hair’s natural radiance. Many natural divas turn to these oils to seal in moisture from wash day and to finish a style.  I also employ them throughout the week to keep my ends lubricated and breakage-free!

Air Dry
When possible, skip the diffuser and opt to air dry your styles.  Even indirect heat, such as a bonnet dryer, has the potential to rob your hair of moisture, leaving it dull and drab.

Cassia Treatments
Cassia is similar to henna; although it’s a different plant altogether, it has some of the same conditioning effects, sans the red color. Like henna, cassia can strengthen the hair shaft, improve overall hair health, and add lots of shine.

Serums
I’ve had personal success from several commercial oils and serums for shine — without the build-up, greasiness or weight I get from some natural oils.  Notables are Soft-Sheen Carson’s Miracle Oil, Ouidad’s Mongongo Oil and Mizani’s Supreme Oil. I use these less for nourishment and more to add some serious shine to dull wash-and-go’s and twist-outs.

What are you dolls using to add shine to your situation? Leave your comments below!

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