When it comes to hair concerns, a dry, flaky scalp ranks pretty low on the list of sexy beauty topics. However, hairstylist Kristin Ess is on a mission to change that with her latest launches — a collection of five products designed to exfoliate and balance the scalp.
“I’ve started paying more attention to the scalp in particular within the last year because I put myself through trichology school,” Ess exclusively tells Allure. (Trichology is the scientific study of the hair and scalp.) “That really opened my eyes to how important the scalp is to encourage hair growth and healthy hair.” The first of her brand-new additions is a sugar scrub (encased in a user-friendly tube for direct application to the roots) followed by two masks — one, a hydrating formula intended for root-to-tip use, the second a foaming, bubbling mask to give a deep cleanse right where it’s needed. There’s also a micellar shampoo on tap, and lastly, a multipurpose milk-oil that features a unique bi-phase formula and shine-boosting properties. “You can actually use that before or after styling,” Ess explains. “I have some clients who have natural, textured hair that I will put that on as a leave-in conditioner and protective barrier. I’ve been blow-drying and styling hair with that in it.”
As always, Ess wanted to be sure that no one was left out in this launch. “My goal was to create enough options so that people with any hair type or any texture could find a couple of things that work really well,” she says. “This is more like an amendment to your [existing] hair routine; between these five products, I feel like everyone’s going to be able to find their favorite two or three for encouraging a healthy scalp.” As for the product formulations, she wasn’t afraid to take time to get it right: “Especially with things like scrubs, I was so particular about how it moved around in the hair,” she explains, revealing that her team went through roughly ten versions before settling on the finished product. Ingredients-wise, you’ll find lots of botanically-derived goodies (she’s a fan of mango and shea butters, plus rosemary, eucalyptus, and lemon peel oils, to name a few). There are also salicylic acid and micelles to gently exfoliate and lift dirt and product buildup. Oh, and did we mention that everything clocks in at under $15?
In addition to creating products that are both affordable and efficacious, Ess is passionate about one other thing: Making them fun to use on an experiential level. “I think that we’ve had this awesome movement for skin care, with K-beauty and all these masks and treatments that everyone is doing,” she says, adding that an innately enjoyable product makes for the best segue into education — her true passion as a hairstylist and entrepreneur. “That stuff is so fun, but then you find out what the benefits are.”
It’s been nearly two years since Ess launched her eponymous brand that’s all but revolutionized what we expect from affordably-priced hair care, but it’s clear that she’s just getting started. (In November 2018, she added a range of devastatingly chic styling tools to her offerings.) “It’s always an open conversation with people and I always appreciate hearing what they want next,” Ess says. “We’re currently exploring new things with the labs and asking them to work with us on innovations that we’ve started to develop on our own — and see how we can bring that forward.”