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Hair Glaze Vs. Hair Gloss: What’s The Difference?

photo of women with shiny hair

If you ever thought that a hair glaze and a gloss were interchangeable salon terms—you’re not alone. But, they’re actually not. Though they may sound the same, the color treatments have some significant differences and purposes, so it’s super important to know the difference before your next trip to the salon.

Here, we breakdown the two so you’ll be armed and ready with all of the gloss versus glaze knowledge at your next stylist appointment.

Good hair day by @hairmeroar.

What is a hair glaze?

When comparing a glaze versus gloss, a hair glaze is the simpler hair color technique of the two.

Belinda Gambuzza, a L’Oréal Professionnel partner from Visage Salon, Spa & Studio, explains, "Glaze can penetrate slightly deeper, creating longer-lasting benefits, whereas a gloss stays on the surface of the cuticle concentrating on shine and tone as its main objectives.”

A glaze, on the other hand, coats the hair with shine and semi-permanent color, unifying tones, and eliminating brassiness or uneven colors.

The stylist recommends a glaze as the final step in most hair color services. Though, if you've invested time and money in a particularly bright shade of blonde, you might want to consult with your stylist before making any decisions that may alter the tone of your mane.

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Hair Glaze Maintenance

Your hair color is only as good as your hair care routine between appointments. While a glaze should last for several weeks, harsh hair product formulas and overexposure to the sun can fade your color over time.

"Harsh detergents can strip the glaze right out, so expert shampoo and conditioner recommendations are always best to prolong the life of a glaze," Gambuzza says.

Stumped about where to start? The pro stylist recommends L'Oréal Professionnel Vitamino Color A-OX Shampoo, Conditioner, and Masque for color radiance protection.

When in doubt, consult your stylist. They have your best interest (and that of your hair) in mind.

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What is a hair gloss?

A gloss is more true to its name. Essentially, it’s like the topcoat you use in your manicures—but for your hair.

Stephanie Moss, L’Oreal Professionnel brand ambassador and artist, explains that though a gloss sounds like something that might simply add shine to your mane, it actually is a demi-permanent (versus semi-permanent) hair color service, and the formula is quite different than a glaze, too.

Moss 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. So, it helps seal down the hair cuticle to create a reflective surface.

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A gloss also has conditioning properties (because unlike a glaze, a gloss contains no ammonia) that will leave your hair feeling softer and more manageable than before. And, because of its demi-permanent nature, it can last anywhere from four to six weeks with proper care.

Perhaps the best attribute of a gloss? It’s good for quite literally everyone. Ryan Pearl, Redken artist and master colorist, says, “A gloss is good for anyone. It doesn’t matter if you have color-treated hair or not. It will brighten your color and add shine and softness to any hair type or hair color...Just make sure you talk to your colorist about what formula would suit you best.”

Hair Gloss Maintenance

Moss always recommends her clients swap out their regular shampoo and conditioner for a system that will protect your color. She suggests L’Oréal Professionnel’s Vitamino Color A-Ox range or L’Oréal Professionnel’s Absolut Repair Lipidium range.

You may be excited to try out your new fancy shampoo, but 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 any unwanted warm tones in the hair,” Moss says.

Whether you opt for a color glaze or a gloss, you’re now equipped with everything you need to make sure your hair color looks flawless all year long.

Ways To Try A Hair Gloss

To give your strands maximum shine.

If you’ve ever dreamed of having shiny, polished hair that looks like you just stepped off of a magazine cover, why not try a clear gloss? A clear gloss helps seal the hair cuticle to create a reflective surface, leaving your strands with a glossy, luminous appearance that can last for weeks.

To tone your salon color.

Whether you opt for a balayage, platinum blonde, or all-over red, there’s no better feeling than leaving the salon with a fresh new color. Fast forward a few weeks, however, and your once vibrant and toned mane may look a bit brassy and dull. This is where gloss comes in.

“Glosses have pigment in them that can richen your existing hair color. It can also be used to cancel out any unwanted tones,” Pearl explains. “As a gloss only deposits, it has no lifting capabilities.”

In short: A gloss won’t permanently change or lighten your hue in any way, but simply act as a temporary refresher for your current color. Blondes and redheads can benefit from the anti-brass effect, while brunettes can temporarily tweak their current color to play around with a darker hue.

To blend your color.

If you’re looking to conceal your greys, quickly touch up your roots, or cover up any uneven salon color, ask your colorist for a tinted gloss. Pearl explains it as a topcoat for the hair that helps blend your mane from roots to ends.

“A gloss adds tone without lifting natural color...the color washes out over time, which leaves a very natural and seamless fade,” Pearl says.

No matter which hair gloss effect you’re after, Pearl loves the Redken Shades EQ line, the gentle equalizing conditioning color features wheat amino acids for healthy shine and incredible coloring.

Now that you know the difference between glazes and glosses (oh my!) head to our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you.

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