This topic comes up a lot with someone telling me their hair is "dry" because it isn’t shiny and I have to assure them that moisture and shine are not the same thing! I hope this breakdown helps you better understand the difference.


Moisture comes with use of water-based products and is best installed in the shampooing and deep conditioning part of your routine. You should also be drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day. Signs that hair may lack moisture are profuse shedding leading to lowered density, breakage (thin ends), extreme frizz after washing and/or immediately after styling. 


Shine is based on light reflection in the prism as light passes through your strands and comes back out. Defined, clumped curls look shinier than less defined curls because of the way your eyes process light or “shine.” You may notice when you straighten your curls, your hair appears shiny as light is able to pass and reflect through the strand more easily because the obstructions to light (bends of your curl) have been smoothed out.

Texture and tone determines how your hair reflects light. Highly textured hair and/or naturally off-black/brown hair tends to LOOK dull after styling. Also, damaged hair (frayed cuticle, chemical/heat damaged) or hair that has lots of product buildup (from lack of proper cleansing) will reflect less light. Shine is achievable with hair color to deepen tone or formulated oil sheens, shine sprays, silk oils, and certain pomades. 

Lack of shine is not an indication of internal strand dryness. Saying your hair is “dry” because it’s not shiny is not necessarily true. Don’t get hung up on having super shiny hair. If your hair is not breaking off or shedding profusely, and holds style well, you’re probably fine! If you aren’t sure, evaluate your routine or see a stylist to assess the situation and receive guidance. 

Moisturizing Natural Hair: Is it dry or dull?

Learn the difference between dry and hair and what you can do to enhance shine and hydration.