The thing about curly hair products, particularly in the styling category, is that not only are there a million and one options to choose from, but there’s a very real issue of styling for multiple curl patterns on one head. My curls are a lot tighter in the back of my head than they are in the front (thanks, heat damage!), so I tend to go more lightweight products in the front that won’t further stretch out my already compromised curls. The back of my hair takes to defining products a lot better, but then there’s also the issue of shrinkage, so I actually need products that are a little heavier to help lengthen those curls a bit.
In general, my texture overall is dense but fine. Heavy oils and creams can quickly weigh down my hair and leave it feeling greasy. Knowing this, I can usually tell from one look and feel of a product if it’s going to work on my hair or not. What I noticed about SheaMoisture’s Curl Enhancing Smoothie is that it is rich, but when I rubbed it in my hand it didn’t feel oily. This was a good sign. At first, I was slightly skeptical of the thickness. Although it’s thicker than my other curl-defining creams, it’s still really lightweight. It doesn’t leave any residue and it doesn’t make my hair feel heavy or greasy.
When trying a product for the first time, I usually try to stick as closely to the instructions as possible. However, when it comes to curls, I have a pretty good read on what works best to make my curls pop. So although the instructions said to apply this curl definer to towel-dried or damp hair, I knew that for the best results, I needed to apply to soaking wet hair. The definition just dries a lot better when I do it this way, and it’s easier to see how the curls are shaping up as I smooth the cream through. I also wanted to see how it held up alone, so while I’d typically apply a leave-in conditioner or some other type of moisturizing primer before my styler, I decided to skip that step this time.
I washed, conditioned, and detangled my hair, making sure that it was knot-free. I then sectioned it from ear to ear, starting from the back of my head and working forward, finger combing the cream through each section. In the back where I need more stretch, I pulled it out a bit as I spread the product through, and in the front I did the opposite, scrunching as I smoothed it in.
I can usually tell how the curls are going to dry from the look of it when wet. Compared to my usual curl cocktail the definition was definitely visible. The coils were a lot finer than usual (normally I end up with chunkier curls) — but the goal is always definition and smoothness, both of which was visible even at the wet stage.
I do a head flip forward and work more product through the back and tips, and then I let it air-dry. My hair usually takes forever to fully dry, so at bedtime I gathered it all into a scrunchie at the top of my head and threw on a bonnet. In the morning, I took down the curls — and although still slightly damp in the middle — had remained intact and were a little plumper than when wet.
There was zero crunch and overall, my curls were defined, smooth, and soft. The instructions say that the cream can also be used for twist-outs, which I’ll definitely try another time. I think it would do particularly well with protective styles. For an easy, one-product wash-and-go, I’m impressed with the 2020 Allure Readers’ Choice Award winner.