Japanese women have perfected and passed down haircare rituals that create beautifully glossy strands for centuries. Here's how you can try them for yourself.
There's good reason to turn to Japanese women for shiny hair secrets. Google the aristocratic women of the centuries-long Heian period, and you'll see ancient paintings depicting their black, glossy hair so long it often reached the floor. And geishas--elegant, resourceful women who devoted much of their days to their exacting beauty routine--have always valued and focused on maintaining incredibly shiny strands. In addition, the culture is steeped in centuries of ingredient knowledge and rituals passed down for thousands of years, and modern science confirms their efficacy. From scalp care to rice water, these Japanese haircare steps can make your strands look healthier and amazingly reflective.
Brush Hair Often
Those training to be geishas would brush their long hair many times a day to keep it smooth, tangle-free, and shiny. Doing so would also help remove the products they'd use to create their structured updo.
Brushing has more worthy benefits, too. It stimulates the scalp (which can help encourage new growth) and distributes the scalp's natural, hydrating oil down the length of the hair to give it a beautiful sheen. The traditional tool: a wooden comb, which is gentle, especially good at distributing oil, and tends to last. A great time to brush is before you get into the shower. Hair is at its weakest state when wet, so detangling before you shampoo or condition is best. Make sure to massage your scalp gently but thoroughly with the comb's blunt teeth as you go.
Treat Hair to Rice Water
It's said that those noble long-haired ladies of the Heian Period combed their hair with rice water. Later, Geisha bathed in it. The reasons: Rice water is the milky water that collects after you rinse rice, and it's full of starch, an emollient that softens hair and makes it shine. This is the key to peak shine: a strong, healthy strand has as cuticle layer (the outermost layer of hair) that's flat and smooth, reflecting light evenly--just like glass. Sure, you could hack your way to a rice water concoction of your own. But it's 2022, and there's a much easier, enriched, elegantly formulated version of the ancient practice: our Nourishing Shampoo and Conditioner
Blow Dry--But Protect it When You Do
It's known that Japanese women typically wash and blow-dry their hair every day. Doing so ups the hair's shine factor because when you aim the dryer's hot air down the hair shaft, it smoothes the hair's cuticles to reflect more light. Win! But the heat has a drawback; it can dry out and damage strands. Traditionally, Japanese women are famous for applying camellia oil to their hair to help hydrate and protect it. Applying a heat protectant spray before you blow-dry is also a great idea to keep strands at their glossiest.