What happened when I tried the new Kristin Ess Shampoo and Conditioner

Up your Sleepwear Game!

shampoo, conditioner

I first began hearing the name Kristin Ess through The Beauty Department blog, which used to have some affiliation with Lauren Conrad though I’m not sure if it still does. Then I found her on Instagram and learned she does a bit of celebrity hair while also contributing to The Beauty Department.

Beyond that, I don’t know too much about her. I didn’t even know she was launching a product line until a reader asked me if I knew about it!

It took me a few trips to Target to actually get my hands on it, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that each bottle was only $10.00 each!

The shampoo was nice, and I immediately noticed a strong floral smell. It wasn’t a bad smell, but compounded with the steam of the shower it made it a bit strong compared to what I’m used to. It lathered up fine though, and left my hair feeling clean!

The conditioner was really great as well. It wasn’t overly creamy or waxy, so I knew it wouldn’t feel too heavy on my hair but it certainly left my locks feeling conditioned and moisturized. I had to work through a few tangles, but I think that could have been solved by brushing my hair better prior to showering.

Ultimately, my hair styled great and I was pleased with the duo! It wasn’t a game changing shampoo and conditioner, but it’s a wonderful choice for a normal “straight forward does what it says it will do” shampoo and conditioner!

I didn’t wash my hair the next day and I still smelled the strong floral aroma on it. And ultimately it was that fact, the lingering fragrance, that caused me to not use it again.

I’m always happy to see people chasing their dreams and doing awesome things, so I’m still a fan! If she comes out with another version, perhaps with less fragrance, I’ll be sure to try that!

Have you tried it? What do you think?

More recent product reviews here and here!


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Allison Vizzo says · 03.02.17

Do you always shampoo twice when you wash your hair?

Kate says · 03.03.17

No, just sometimes if I feel like it needs it!

Holly Allen says · 03.02.17

I have naturally curly hair. I tried her curl defining cream and I LOVE it! It has taken the top spot away from Bumble and Bumble curl defining cream for me! I also love the curl texture spray (the name escapes me). Awesome stuff! This is a win for curly girls!

Lauryn says · 05.18.17

Same here! I used the bumble and bumble curl cream, but this stuff is cheaper and works much better in my opinion! Love it!

Elizabeth says · 03.02.17

I’ve been wanting to try this – thanks for sharing!
Xo, Elizabeth

Ash says · 03.02.17

I have tried the dry shampoo and the leave-in conditioner/detangling spray. The detangler is fantastic. I have fine hair that tangles very easily and this spray makes my comb glide through my hair like buttah, but does not weigh it down. The dry shampoo is ok. It has the same strong, lingering scent that you describe, and it does a decent job of absorbing oil. It’s not as good as the Living Proof dry shampoo, but it only costs half as much too.

Alyssa says · 03.02.17

I haven’t tried the shampoo or conditioner yet because I have my products I love and just don’t really feel like straying from them. I have her leave in conditioner, dry shampoo, setting spray, pomade and texturizing spray. The leave in conditioner is my absolute favorite, followed by the texture spray.

To me, the leave in conditioner is the biggest game changer. My hair has never felt better.

That’s so interesting that the smell was on of the biggest factors for you. In the reviews I noticed people either loved or hated the smell!

Kady Millard says · 03.02.17

I’m currently using and at first the scent of both shampoo and conditioner threw me off because it was strong . It doesn’t lather real well because my hair is extremely thick and kinda course because I do highlight it. The “one” conditioner isn’t enough for me so I probably won’t be buying again. Anyone have their best go to they’re willing to share ?

Crystal says · 03.02.17

What do you do with products you try once and don’t like? Seems like you would be accumulating quite the collection of “near miss” beauty products.

Kait says · 03.02.17

I previous posts she said she donates them 🙂

Honore says · 03.02.17

During high school my sister worked in the same salon as Kristin Ess and because of her stories about her diva behavior and ill treatment of the staff (my sister was a receptionist) I won’t be using her products.

Becky says · 03.02.17

Haha, the sub-head should read “and nothing happened” 😂 From your style of writing I wonder whether you were irritated and asked yourself why you don’t have your own hair care out there.

Kate says · 03.02.17

Certainly not irritated–I’m not sure how you got that impression! It just isn’t the right fit for me.

sherry says · 03.03.17

I hope you are proud of yourself for being so rude. I know it is so easy to criticize others behind a computer screen. Manners no longer exist in this new world of social media. “If you have nothing nice to say then you should say nothing at all”

Becky says · 03.06.17

Sherry, Kate, I’m sorry for posting a rude comment. Reading the review again, it read very differently.

Claire says · 03.02.17

I have never tried these!
I am always on a hunt for good shampoos that do not dry the hair and i really want to give these a go. The packaging is a little bit classic though.


KG says · 03.02.17

I am so glad this review came out so quickly. I was going to pick up the shampoo and conditioner that you tried when I was a Target on Saturday. But, I said – I will wait to see what Kate has to say. Glad I waited. Thanks for your honest review!

And Luke saying “CALL SIRI” was too dang hilarious! I kept playing it because he cracks me up. And David saying “I SAID I DON’T LIKE YOUR NECKLACE” was priceless! Your boys crack me up!

Alit says · 03.02.17

I heard you talk about it on social media and immediately looked it up and bought the Shampoo, Conditioner, Leave-In, Serum, Thickening Spray, and Dry Shampoo…. I was looking for a shakeup to my beauty routine so thought trying a whole line of new products could do the trick.

I love this line. Yes the fragrance is strong, but to me it feels like I’m coming out of the salon every day! I am absolutely loving the serum! I can blow dry my hair and barely have to use my straightener to get my hair looking great!

I will say that the thickening/volume spray has a strange smell to it as it goes on (alcohol maybe?), but still works great…

Sorry you didn’t like it as much as I do, but thanks for turning me on to my new favorite hair line!

Olivia says · 03.02.17

I have the thickening spray and it TOTALLY smells like alcohol! I thought it might just be my pregnancy nose but is definitely strong. However, I do still like to product!

Danielle says · 03.02.17

I tried her conditioning cleanser because my hair was overly dry. It left my roots very oily and dirty looking but definitely conditioned my hair. I will try the shampoo and conditioner for sure. I also really liked the thickening spray!

Julie says · 03.02.17

I would love for you to try Monat. It’s an all natural-chemical free hair care line.
Would love to send you samples. Your review would mean a lot to me. As I have tried a lot of make up etc through your reviews on your blog.

Leonhart says · 01.07.23

Was just reading these reviews and came across your comment, Monat is under a lot of scrutiny for their products containing harsh chems. They have quite a few lawsuits against them including one where they made false hair renewal claims. In case anyone was wondering about Monat, maybe read up.

Mallory says · 03.02.17

The styling products are by far my favorite of the line! I’m loving the texture spray and the powder!

Brooke says · 03.02.17

I’m so glad you tried these items and did a post about it! I’ve been debating trying the shampoo and conditioner after my stylist gave me samples of the cleansing creme and curl creme, both of which were too heavy for my fine curly hair. But the prices of the items and the fact that they are “safe everything” is a draw. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

Sara says · 03.02.17

I’ve tried the Instant Lift Thickening Spray and I think it’s great so far! My hair feels weightless and it helps to hold my waves longer after using the flat iron. My only complaint is that the smell is very strong when you spray it – almost like nail polish remover – but it does not linger on your hair after blow drying.

Rebecca says · 03.02.17

That is interesting that the lingering scent caused you not to use it again. I think most people want a product that makes their hair smell good, even the day after! I always try the products you talk about so I may have to make a trip to Target tonight to buy some 🙂

Katherine says · 03.02.17

Thanks for the honest review Kate. I can definitely relate to the fragrance issue. I have always felt the same way about Moroccanoil. It’s a good product and many people swear by it, but I intensely dislike the fragrance of it. Simply can’t stand smelling it on my hair, so it’s a deal breaker.

Kim S says · 03.02.17

I was thinking of trying this brand too. I’m glad to know about the fragrance, I am extremely sensitive to smells. Glad I didn’t waste my money!!!

Cait says · 03.02.17

I tried the shampoo and conditioner and was not impressed. The shampoo took forever to rinse out and once it finally was out, my hair felt like straw. The smell was horrible and my scalp itched the day after using it. I was quite disappointed considering I spent about $20 for the set. For just over half of that cost, I could have just stuck to Ogx.

Jessie says · 03.02.17

Can you post a pic of the back of your hair straightened. I love the front when you snapped it snap chat.

Courtney says · 03.02.17

I tried it as well and my hair felt really good, but the smell was just too much. Are there any other drugstore shampoos/conditioners that you think are worth trying?

Christy says · 03.02.17

I just saw blogger Natalie Borton raving about Kristen Ess’ depth defining water based pomade so I’m going to Target today to try this and the pomade! While I love my Davines, Living Proof and Kevin Murphy products, I need a less expensive alternative when I’m counting pennies.

Emily says · 03.02.17

I am interested in trying the styling products, but I did not have a good experience with these. 🙁 I agree about the strong scent, and I also found that my hair felt weighed down and much more static-y than usual, even after multiple trials. I was bummed, because I’m also a fan of her & the bottles are super cute/aesthetically pleasing – ha!

Kait says · 03.02.17

I’m the total opposite, I think. I love when the scent stays on my hair, because I go about 4 days between each washing, so I think the lingering scent would work to my advantage LOL. Thanks for the review!

Blush & Pearls says · 03.02.17

Sounds great! I was worried from the title that you used it and something horrible happened to your hair…lol.

Blush & Pearls by Angela

Kathleen says · 03.02.17

I bought both the frizz management conditioner and the beach wave spray. The conditioner did NOTHING for my hair and in fact, I felt like it was even frizzier than normal. I do like the beach wave spray though, and feel that it enhances my waves and adds bounce to my hair.

Madeline says · 03.02.17

I was so excited to try her products and took me a couple of trips to get my hands on them. I purchased the leave in conditioner, dry shampoo,. I returned these products the smell was too strong for my liking and it didn’t do a thing for my hair. I wish it would have

Amber says · 03.02.17

I got the shampoo, conditioner, and curl defining cream. One of the things I love most about these products is the fragrance! It is strong but I find it to be a pleasant scent. The curl cream is nice because it is a good mix of gel and cream. It doesn’t make my hair crunchy. I also like the styling tips on the bottles.

Melissa Malone says · 03.02.17

Why won’t you finish your story of how you met Justin and your new haircut that’s what everyone is asking for not your opinion of a shampoo that nobody has heard of from target…. Listen to your followers!!!

Anna says · 03.03.17

Any suggestions of hair products to use for post pregnancy hair that is dry like straw and unruly??

alexis says · 03.03.17

Hi Kate! I love your blog and have followed along since you first started it. I was reading through the comments to see how others felt about this shampoo and conditioner and I noticed some rude comments from other followers. I am thinking of starting a blog and I would have such a hard time dealing with people’s negative comments. I understand some people can take things differently, but I didn’t find your post to be rude at all and can’t see how others thought it was. How do you handle the negativity?

BayLee says · 03.03.17

Kate I love your blog!!! Your little family is so cute! Quick question to you know of any products that would possible give my heavy stiff straight hair done life and possibly allow me to curl it? If I do curl it now by the time I get done with a curl it is back to being straight before I can finish the next one, any advice?

Emily says · 03.03.17

I tried a few things from the line, as I follow and LOVE her instagram account. I, too, disliked the overwhelmingly strong scents. The texturizing spray and have wave spray both work awesome, but they drive me insane because the strong smell is not my taste and it lingers for days… I’m trying to power through and use them up. But unfortunately, I will not be repurchasing either.

Branna says · 03.04.17

Hi Kate! I love your honest reviews. Just curious, have you tried any of Drew Barrymore’s FLOWER products? Just wondering your thoughts on that line.

Melissa says · 03.13.17

When I saw you mention on Snapchat about this line I was excited to try it and looked at it on my last trip to Target but now not so sure. I really need a good recommendation on shampoo and conditioner for a very interesting head of hair like mine: dry scalp yet very oily roots and dry ends. I need some serious help!

jill says · 04.06.17

A few days back on Instagram you stated you’ve been doing some deep conditioning on your hair. Can you share the products you been using. Thank you.

C Berkley says · 04.12.17

This article makes me want to give this shampoo and conditioner a try.


This Blonde Business says · 06.14.17

I just bought this yesterday at Target! I agree! The smell is stronger than any shampoo and conditioner I have used before. I did feel I had to shampoo twice to get a more through clean feeling from the shampoo. Great price and hair feels and smells good after 🙂

Mellaws says · 03.29.18

Yes. I agree with Your opinionl. The formulation is perfect!! Unfortunately I can’t stand the smell :(((. Hope she comes out with different or less fragrance.

Katie says · 06.15.18

I was not super impressed with the shampoo and conditioner. The scent grew on me and now I don’t even notice. I also don’t *love* it but I haven’t found a shampoo and conditioner I love yet, and this line is super affordable.

I did invest in the leave in conditioner spray because of the comments on this post! 💕 I think I will try the purple shampoo next.

Amy Peterson says · 09.11.18

Contrary to all comments about scent, I have written the Kristen Ess company several times to see if they sell a perfume because the scent is divine. It is so hard for me to switch perfumes and this scent is so very lovely and delicate that in an instant, I would.

Carla Molino says · 09.12.18

I have tried a few of the products and really like them. I have not tried the shampoo/conditioner yet, but if you buy at Target you can always return. My question is …. is there any reason why some of the products bottles are black, peach and tan. Are the colors for dry hair, color treated hair, curly hair. I want to make sure I buy the right product for my thick, curly hair, and the sales lady didn’t know. Thank you anybody.

Crystal says · 04.05.19

This is hands down the best shampoo I’ve ever used. Ever.

Karla Pope says · 07.21.19

I just tried it for the first time and love it! My favorite is living proof but it’s so expensive, so I was so happy and pleased with Kristin Ess and the price! And I loved the fragrance! I will be trying her other products!

Karly says · 11.07.19

I realize this post is old but I wanted to give my 2 cents. I purchased this shampoo and conditioner a couple of months ago. I don’t feel like it does a super great job of getting my hair clean and by day 2 I feel like I need to wash again. It feels like there is a lot of build up. Normally I can go 3 or 4 days without my hair feeling gross, but not with this. At this point I’ve gone through approximately half of the bottles so I feel that I have a good idea of how it works in my hair. I won’t be repurchasing.

Callie says · 03.18.20

It’s been 2 years since this post, lol but i just purchased the Kristin Ess fragrance free shampoo and conditioner. I haven’t used it yet, but, I was wondering if you’ve tried this line?

Kristen says · 05.04.22

This shampoo’s floral scent started an immediate asthma flare up… for me but my daughter loves it

Millie says · 06.09.23

I have fine thin hair and I love the shampoo and conditioner. I always wash twice then conditioner and it leaves my hair full of body and shine and I have been using it well over a year and have no hair breakage. I love it.

Sav says · 04.03.24

I have coarse curly/wavy hair and I’m ready to confirm, after using the entire bottles, that I am not a fan! When using another brand, I was able to get 3-4 days out of a wash. Now, I’m having to wash my hair every day – no changes in my environment, water, or stress. I’ve tried the clarifying shampoo as well which kept washes for a couple days – but, I know it is unsafe to use a clarifying shampoo frequently. TL;DR not my fave.