Curly Hair Routine

Shiny Curly Hair Tips: How to make curly hair shiny and silky

Are you bombarded with images of shiny curly hair online and wondering why your curls don’t have the same glow? You’re not alone! While curly hair and shine don’t always go hand in hand (especially if you have a tight curl pattern or damaged hair), there are some things you can do to make your curls appear more shiny.

If you want to know how to make your curly hair shiny and silky, this guide is for you! Keep reading to find out what determines shine level, as well as my top 7 tips for shiny curly hair.

What determines how shiny curly hair is?

So why is some curly hair naturally shinier than others? And why doesn’t shine last as well on certain hair types? Is it something you’re doing wrong, or is it just the way it is?

There are various factors that determine how shiny someone’s hair may be, which include:

  • Hair porosity
  • Curl pattern
  • Level of hydration
  • Lighting


Hair porosity is the hair’s ability to attract and maintain moisture. The less porous your hair is, the healthier it usually is. Hair that’s more porous is often dyed or has some level of damage (though not always).

So how does porosity affect the hair’s level of shine?

  • Low porosity hair is generally shinier because the cuticles lay flatter, and, once hydrated and healthy, low porosity hair generally holds onto moisture well.


  • High porosity hair is usually less shiny because the cuticles are slightly raised so it loses moisture more quickly, and therefore needs the help of certain products to help lock moisture in and enhance shine (more on this below).

Curl pattern

The curlier your hair, the less shiny it will likely be. Straight and wavy hair is usually more glossy and shiny because it has a greater reflective surface area. However, because curly hair twists and intertwines, it doesn’t have as much surface area and therefore can’t reflect as much light. You may also find that your hair appears more shiny when you have juicy defined curl clumps and less frizz.

Level of hydration

Have you ever noticed that your hair appears more shiny on wash day than on day four hair, for example? This is because your hair loses moisture as the days go by, and dehydrated curls are less shiny. Your curls will always appear shinier when they are well-hydrated! So if you want more shine, be sure to follow some of the tips below to hydrate your hair and lock moisture in.


Avoid comparing your hair to photos or videos on social media taken in front of a ring light, or in natural light against a window – lighting and cameras can make the hair appear shinier than it actually is in real life. This doesn’t mean the people you follow online are editing their images or lying about how shiny their hair is, it just means that lighting can play a part in how shiny hair looks.

How to make curly hair more shiny

While you can’t always determine how shiny your hair is naturally, here are my top tips for healthy shiny curls:

1. Remove buildup

Make sure your hair is free of buildup! Product buildup and hard water buildup can make your curls appear dull, so opt for a clarifying shampoo to give your hair a squeaky clean slate.

2. Hydrate

Shiny hair is healthy hair, so focus on hydration. Water is key for shiny curls, so use the squish-to-condish method when detangling to hydrate your hair from the inside out, and make sure your hair is dripping wet when applying styling products.

3. Add extra moisture

Apply curl cream or leave-in conditioner to soaking wet hair to add moisture, smooth frizz and create juicy curl clumps. Juicy curl clumps = shiny curl clumps.

4. Use humectants

Use products that contain humectants, which attract moisture to the hair. Humectants include ingredients such as aloe vera, glycerin, honey, panthenol, propylene glycol and hydrolyzed proteins.

5. Use emollients

Use products that contain emollients to seal moisture in. Common emollients include oils, butters and fatty alcohols, for example, shea butter and cetyl alcohol.

6. Finish with an oil or serum

Use an oil or serum as a last step on dry hair to enhance shine. This will help seal your cuticles and lock moisture into the hair, giving a soft, smooth finish. Oils also help add lubrication to the hair, which decreases friction and minimises knotty curly hair.

7. Protect your hair overnight

Looking after your curls while you sleep can play a part in keeping your hair shiny. Sleeping on a silk or satin pillowcase, or wearing a silk or satin bonnet will not only help keep your curls intact, but it can also help them stay hydrated and prevent friction and frizz!

While we can’t always determine or control the natural shine level of our hair, focusing on health, hydration and locking moisture in with some shine-enhancing products can help. Remember curly hair has texture! So don’t be disheartened if it’s not as glossy as the straight hair you see on TV. Rock your curls in all their texturised glory!

Have your curls become shinier the further you’ve gotten into your curly hair journey and as your hair has become more healthy? Let me know in the comments of this post, I’d love to know!

For even more shiny curly hair tips, watch my YouTube video on how to make curly hair more shiny: 

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