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I’m a big sucker for buying things I see on Instagram — especially beauty products. I like having the co-sign from real people I know that something works, so much so that they want to talk about it on the internet without getting #paid. This was most recently the case with Kristin Ess, a really cute and miracle-working haircare line that’s only available at Target.
Ess, a celeb hairstylist and co-founder of The Beauty Department, launched the line last January. Given that the entire range rang in under $14 and was created by a literal famous hair person, it got people excited! But because I’m a professional skeptic and wildly overprotective of my thick curls, it took a flood of praise from some of my favorite beauty follows for me to actually give it a try. (It also didn’t hurt that the packaging is so! damn! good!) I’m on the other side now, and I truly can’t say enough about this stuff.
I started with the Frizz Management Cleansing Conditioner ($14), a low-sudsing co-wash specifically for coarse and curly hair. It claims to combat humidity, control frizz, and revive moisture — all the usual claims for curly products. I took them with a grain of salt but ended up so impressed. My hair feels clean, not stripped, when I use it, and my curls have a bounce that they haven’t had since I dyed it blonde two summers ago. Plus, it smells really good without being overbearing. My old fave, the fancy $46 tube from Oribe, truly has nothing on this line.
I also gave the Weightless Shine Working Serum ($14) a shot, and it’s become part of my everyday routine. It’s smoothing and thick, and it can be used on all kinds of hair. I use it to close up my dry ends, slick back the top of my hair for a tight bun, and touch up my curls when I need to put some life back into them throughout the day.
Just last week, the line expanded with 11 new products ranging from purple shampoo to recovery balm, so it’s not just me who’s buying in. Finding products on a budget that actually work and make for a cute picture (sorry folks, it matters to me!) feels like an unrealistic ask, but this line is the trifecta. I’m only upset that it took me a year to get on board.
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