Every Curly-Haired Person in My Life Loves This $10 Product

It works as well on my loose ringlets as it does my mom’s 3B strands.

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Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie
Photo: Courtesy/InStyle

For our 26th annual Best Beauty Buys, the InStyle team worked with leading dermatologists, makeup artists, hairstylists, wellness experts, fragrance connoisseurs, and manicurists to find out which products they can't get enough of. Now, the votes are in — and you'll want to get a hold of these 229 beauty game-changers.

Search the phrase "curl cream" on Amazon, and you'll come up with more results than JLo has Starbucks cups. I started to embrace my curls fairly recently, and in that time I've tried leave-ins, gels, and mousses at just about every price point, from celebrity-backed options to whatever TikTok tells me I can't live without. Through all the trial and error, a single product consistently outshines the rest — and InStyle just named it one of the Best Beauty Buys of 2021.

The SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie is the only product all my curl-conscious friends have in common. I first discovered the curl cream in my former roommate's side of the medicine cabinet, and when I asked her about it, she let me give it a try. I had little faith that her 4C curls and my loose ringlets could respond well to the same ingredients, but I'd soon be proven wrong in the best way possible. Ask anyone who's tried this cream, and they'll tell you its versatility is its greatest selling point.

"This product is so great because it defines your curls and removes frizz while still keeping them super soft and hydrated," Scott King, a celebrity hairstylist whose clients include Lisa Rinna, told InStyle. A little goes a long way, so he recommends using it sparingly, especially "if your hair is on the finer side."

Beyond its namesake shea butter, the Curl Enhancing Smoothie is made with silk protein, which creates a fibrous barrier around strands for added strength, elasticity, and shine. It also contains neem oil, a customer-loved secret sauce for making curly hair grow like a weed, and a hearty dose of coconut oil, which reduces hair's protein loss, thereby preventing breakage. The second you crack open the container, you're blasted with the aromas of naturally-derived coconut and hibiscus flower extract.

Best Beauty Buys 2021

Shop now: $10; amazon.com

After every wash day, I apply a quarter-sized drop of product to soaking wet hair using the prayer-hands method. Once it feels evenly distributed, I give my ends a gentle scrunch and let it all air-dry. Rather than weighing them down, the smoothie brings my curls back to life in a springier, more defined fashion. It preserves their shape and prevents frizz so well, I almost never use gel afterward.

As incredible as the results are, a hair product is only as good as my mom says it is. Thankfully, she happens to love this one. Her curls are tighter and more frizz-prone than mine, and the Curl Enhancing Smoothing gives them some much-needed moisture. Besides standard shampoo and conditioner, it's the only hair product she's managed to use consistently for more than a year.

You can grab the SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie for a measly $10. It'll save you from scouring the internet for the perfect styler — because, of course, it is the perfect styler.

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