Test Lab: Kristen Ess Signature Gloss

Test Lab: Kristen Ess Signature Gloss

I thought it was time for another one of these posts, mainly because my hair has been looking really sad lately and I was in desperate need of a quick fix to bring it back to life until I’m able to fit in a real cut and color. When I saw Kristen Ess was coming out with a toning gloss, I was excited to give it a try.

Pregnancy hair is a beautiful thing. Pregnancy, in general, may not agree with me but my hair has never been as thick and as long as it was during pregnancy. Then comes postpartum hair loss, it’s the cruel counterpart to those glorious tresses and the result of hormones that tell your follicles to shed, shed, shed. Right around the same time, you are likely sporting a belly that still looks slightly pregnant, and the pregnancy glow has departed leaving you with less than clear skin and some serious under-eye circles.


So I got a quick trim when I had my daughters bangs cut to even things out then the next day I applied the Kristen Ess Signature Gloss. The results weren’t necessarily shampoo commercial dramatic (though they might be if my hair was in better shape, to begin with), but it did make my hair look and feel: So. Much. Better. For the price and foolproof application, you can’t beat it. Here’s the process along with what I loved about it and a few things I didn’t.


The process itself was very similar to applying an at-home hair color which I had to admit surprised me a bit after trying out the Rose Gold Tint, but it makes sense considering the longevity of this product. You wet your hair in the shower then simply pour the pre-measured bottle of gloss into the developer and shake it up while wearing the provided gloves. The instructions included images for either ombre or full application and I opted for the latter. The illustration was of a neat zig-zag down a head of hair which was… cute, but we all know applying color to yourself is a bit messier in reality. I ended up using a clip and a shower comb to make sure I saturated every strand them wrapped it up into a bun and let it process for the full twenty minutes while I finished my shower. (Side note to those with littles, make sure you carve out a full half hour at least for this process. My daughter was singing the soundtrack to Frozen, “Come out the door, it’s like you went awwwway!” to me while I was rinsing my hair out.)

Test Lab: Kristen Ess Signature Gloss | Design Confetti

Once the twenty minutes was up, I rinsed the product out then washed and conditioned my hair. My first impression was it felt smooth and a bit thicker coming out of the shower, and there was significantly less frizz once I blow dried it. I went through my usual lazy mom routine of blow-dry then twisting it into a bun to lock in a wave and intentionally skipped the hot tools as I wanted to see how it looked in the before and after without smoothing it with heat. I’m guessing it would really bring out the shine to heat style it. As far as the toning went, I used Winter Wheat based on my lightest shade and feel like it did a good job blending my grown out color. It’s been… a while, since I last colored my hair, so I loved that this product not only made my hair look way healthier, but it also evened things out and refreshed my color.

What I Loved

It’s virtually foolproof. There’s no guesswork involved or measuring, you simply mix the two bottles then apply for the allotted time.

It did what it promised. My grown out balayage was blended with my roots, and my ends were toned plus my hair looked so much healthier and substantially shiner.  

It’s been a little over a week and looks as good as the day I applied it.

It didn’t leave a mess, but I was careful to rinse down the shower after applying.

What I Didn’t Love

The application process and time required wasn’t much different than box color. 

It’s a chemical process and smelled as such, but there was no irritation or strong fumes.

It weighs my fine hair down a bit, but it also seems to thicken it up.  

My hair gets oily a little faster between washes.

It didn’t make my hair as dramatically glossy as I had hoped, but I also didn’t use any heat tools on it for the before or after and it was in bad shape, to begin with.  

Final Impression

Overall I think it’s a great product for under $15 and you can’t beat the convince of picking it up on your Target run. I can see myself keeping it up every four weeks but need to carve out at least half an hour for the application. I used Winter Wheat, but there’s a product for every shade.

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