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Color Rinse Vs. Gloss: Which Salon Service Is Right For Your Hair?

photo of woman getting hair colored

The world of hair care is so vast that it has its own lingo. Sometimes it feels like you have to take a class on the hair industry just to keep up. There are basic haircuts, styles, and colors, but then things start to get a little more complicated. Between balayage and strobing, it’s hard to keep up! It’s no wonder you’re left trying to figure out the difference between a color rinse and a gloss.

We’re committed to keeping you up to date on all things hair, so we’ve enlisted the help of Stephanie Moss, L’Oreal Professionnel brand ambassador and artist, to break down everything you’ve ever wanted to know about a color rinses and glosses.

What is a color rinse?

A color rinse is exactly what it sounds like—a product that adds a light wash of color to your strands. Because a rinse is a semi-permanent color, Moss says most color rinses are perfectly safe for the health of your hair.

“A color rinse only contains the colorant. There is no developer. A color rinse is designed so the colorant coats the top layer of the hair shaft. It can only slightly adjust the tonality and depth of a color,” Moss explains.

Because a color rinse is a semi-permanent color, the hue will only last about two to six shampoos.

“This will also depend on the hair that it is being applied over. Porous hair will tend to fade faster,” the stylist says, naming factors like how often it’s washed, the temperature of the water, and at-home care routine.

What is a gloss?

While the name “gloss” sounds like it’s a hair service that merely makes your strands appear shiny, it’s actually a demi-permanent hair color.

“Which means it is a two-part system that contains a developer and a colorant,” Moss explains.

The stylist says there are many reasons to get a gloss including to change or enhance your hair color or tone, as well as to add shine. While making your hair appear shiny is not the primary purpose of a gloss, the name is inspired by the fact that the service is usually acid-based. It helps seal down the hair cuticle to create a reflective surface.

Because a gloss is a demi-permanent service, it can last anywhere from four to six weeks with proper care.

What is the difference between a gloss and a rinse?

The main difference between a gloss and a rinse is that one is demi-permanent and one is semi-permanent. While a color rinse will simply coat the outer layers of your locks with your chosen color, a gloss has the ability to lift or deposit hair color up to two levels. Because of this, a gloss should only be administered by a professional.

Meanwhile, it is perfectly safe to give yourself a color rinse at home to help maintain your tone and shine. Moss recommends L’Oréal Professionnel Color Corrector Blondes or Color Corrector Brunettes.

Can a gloss or rinse damage your hair?

According to Moss, neither a gloss or a rinse should cause damage.

“If anything, a gloss should help seal and condition the cuticle layer because of the acid-based technology,” she explains.

The stylist says the color services are so low risk, she recommends them to all of her clients.

“Anyone can benefit from and gloss or rinse,” she says. “I like to recommend that my guests come in between their regular appointments for a gloss and deep conditioning service to maintain their tone, shine, and health of their hair.”

What kind of maintenance does a gloss or rinse require?

Whether you opt for a color rinse or a gloss, you’ll want to switch up your hair care routine to ensure your hair feels its best and your color service lasts as long as possible.

Moss always recommends her clients swap out their regular shampoo and conditioner for a system that will protect your color.

Moss suggests L’Oréal Professionnel’s Vitamino Color A-Ox range or L’Oréal Professionnel’s Absolut Repair Lipidium range.

Even though you may have picked up a new fancy shampoo, the stylist warns against shampooing too frequently. Try washing your hair just two to three times a week to maintain your color.

“Another take-home product I like to recommend is L’Oreal Professionnel’s Color Corrector Blondes and Color Corrector Brunettes. This will help neutralize and unwanted warm tones in the hair,” Moss says. Whether you opt for a color rinse or a gloss, you’re now equipped with everything you need to make sure your hair color looks flawless all year long.

Armed with this knowledge, you’re ready to schedule a consultation with your stylist.