Smooth, shiny locks a la Jennifer Aniston aren’t totally unattainable, even if you don’t have a celeb-level hairstylist (let alone a Hollywood-size beauty budget). There are plenty of easy tricks you can use at home, no salon trip necessary! If you want to get silky, glistening strands, try some (or all) of these smooth hair solutions. They’ll work whether you want beautifully defined curls or a shimmering mane of straight hair.
1. Rinse with cold water
Yes, it can be painful in winter, but this is a tried-and-true way to get smooth hair. The cold doesn’t just make you want to shrink up — it does the same thing to your hair. Warmth makes the hair cuticle (the outer layer of each individual hair) open, while cold makes it close up. Rinsing with cold water encourages your individual strands to stay flat.
2. Blot, don’t rub
When you step out of the shower, it’s tempting to wrap your hair in a towel and give your head a good rub to remove excess water. Don’t do it! Rubbing roughs up your hair and can cause breakage, and it also encourages frizz. Instead, use your towel to blot away on top of your head. Give the longer sections of your hair a gentle squeeze with the towel to get rid of extra H2O.
3. Use a protective serum
If you want shiny locks, chances are you blow dry your hair — and if it’s a straight style you’re after, a flat iron’s likely involved as well. Though these do create a shiny appearance right away, over time damage from regular heat styling will actually reduce the luster and degrade the smooth texture of your hair. When you can, step away from the heat stylers and give your hair a day off. And when you do turn up the heat, first protect your hair with a serum like Carol’s Daughter Macadamia Heat Protection Serum ($18,hsn.com).
4. Get regular trims
Even if you’re growing out your hair, keeping up with regular trims is key for smooth strands. Even if your roots look amazing and polished, damaged and split ends will ruin that illusion.
5. Do an aloe mask
Aloe vera doesn’t just help with burns — it also contains enzymes that encourage healthy hair growth. It also has a similar composition to keratin (the protein that’s the main building block of your hair), allowing it to easily penetrate hair. To do, dilute a small amount of aloe (the gel from a couple of pieces of the plant is key — if you’re using a prepared aloe vera gel, make sure it doesn’t contain alcohol) in a cup of warm water. Comb through hair, let it sit for 30 minutes, then rinse.
6. Make your hair a smoothie
For a truly indulgent mask that is unbelievably softening, mash together one ripe banana with 2 teaspoons of plain yogurt until you have a smooth paste. This combo is crazy moisturizing, and a treat for your scalp as well as your tresses. Rub it all through your hair, and put on a shower cap (or something else to keep banana from getting all over the place!). After 45 minutes, rinse and shampoo.
7. Create a clarifying rinse
Up softness and shine — and remove accumulated product built-up (yuck!) with an apple cider vinegar rinse. It helps to restore your tresses’ pH balance, gets rid of gunk, and closes up the cuticle. Best of all, it’s super-simple. Dilute a quarter-cup of cider vinegar in one cup of water. After your normal shower routine, pour it through your mane. Work it through from roots to ends, then rinse out (and yes, if you want even better results, rinse it out with cold water!).
8. Comb with care
Taking a brush straight to wet hair is a recipe for frizz and breakage. For smooth strands, use a wide-toothed comb on damp hair. Working in sections, start detangling at the ends and work vertically. Bothered by knots and/or a sensitive scalp? Spritz your hair with a product like It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product ($18, ulta.com) before you head into the fray.
9. Don’t wash more than needed
“Second-day hair” is everywhere, but not just because it’s super-easy. Unless you have hair that’s crazy-oily, you probably don’t need to shampoo every day. Over-shampooing can strip your hair of its natural oils, which help give it shine and prevent damage. Experiment with skipping a day to find a schedule that works for you. Not comfortable going totally au natural? Use a dry shampoo like Batiste Dry Shampoo ($8, drugstore.com), then simply style as usual.
10. Try an at-home straightening treatment
Those images of stylists wearing gas masks has pretty much put everyone off salon straightening treatments, which though effective are also chock full of creepy chemicals. The Keratin Earth system (keratinearth.com) is formaldehyde free and boasts natural ingredients — and rave reviews. With daily shampoo and conditioner and monthly treatments, it tames even the toughest frizz.
11. Give your hair some guac
If your hair is prone to dryness, it also likely tends toward dullness and breakage. Get your smooth on with an avocado mask. Avocados aren’t just yummy, they’re also full of vitamins and proteins that are great for your hair. To make, mash together an extremely ripe avocado, 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, and 2 tablespoons of honey. Keep on mixing ’til there aren’t any lumps, then use a wide-toothed comb to spread it through your dry tresses. Wait 10-30 minutes, then hop in the shower as per normal.
12. Get your gloss on
Regular gloss treatments are one way celebrities keep their hair so insanely shiny and gorgeous at all times. It’s what it sounds like — almost like putting a clear topcoat on each individual strand of your hair so it’s smooth and light-reflecting. The goods news is you can get the same effect at home by using a glossing treatment either as part of your regular shower routine or as a weekly treatment. John Frieda Clear Shine Luminous Hair Glaze ($11,walgreens.com) works on all hair colors.
13. Point your dryer down
Again, air-drying is best for your hair. But if you’re in a hurry or working on a serious style, be sure you’re blowdrying the right way. Use a diffuser so you aren’t scorching your strands, and point the nozzle down. That way, you’re encouraging the cuticle to stay smooth and flat (an updraft can make it open right up). Finish by giving your whole dome a once-over using the cool setting for the smoothest hair.
14. Sleep on satin
Want to avoid frizz and breakage, and make that blowout last longer? Rest your head (and your hair) on a satin pillowcase instead of the usual cotton to keep your strands smooth.
15. Finish it off with a shine spray
Perfect for sprucing up second-day hair or adding definition to curls, shine spray can be the finishing touch on your smooth style. Just don’t overdo it! A little goes a long way, and you want to be shiny, not greasy. For curly hair, spray it on your palms, then scrunch it through your curls. If you’ve got a straight style, spritz it on a paddle brush, then gently brush it through your tresses.