By Mary Shannon Wells
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R + Co WATERFALL Moisture + Shine Lotion
Credit: Courtesy R+Co

If you're a beauty fanatic like me, you probably have a monthly subscription to Birchbox or Sephora's PLAY! box. It's fun to try samples without committing to buying a full-size that might not be right for you. Although I enjoy using up my Birchbox samples, I had yet to follow through and buy a product—until I tried R+Co's WATERFALL Moisture + Shine Lotion.

After just three uses from a sample size of this stuff, I could tell I had a good thing going. Naturally, I decided to take my research one step further, and invested in a full size to really put it to the test.

First of all, if you've ever bought an R+Co product, you can appreciate the gorgeous designs. Every product is like a mini piece of edgy pop art in your shower, and WATERFALL is no exception. It's described by the brand as "a light yet intensely hydrating lotion designed for fine to medium and extra long hair." I've tried hair oils, detanglers, masks, and leave-in conditioners, but never a hair lotion. If you're familiar with R+Co's HIGH DIVE Moisture + Shine Crème, the brand describes WATERFALL as a lighter version. I don't like the feeling of having a lot of product in my hair, and this lotion doesn't weigh me down at all. Just like your favorite body lotion, this weightless formula soaks right in. If you're picky about scents, WATERFALL shouldn't be a problem. The scent, called SERIOUS GAZE, is bright, fresh, and not overpowering.

Apply WATERFALL to clean, wet hair and simply air dry or blow dry before styling per your usual routine. I talked to celebrity stylist and co-founder of R+Co Garren via email about proper use of the product, and he doesn't suggest layering it over any other products post-shower. You can also use a bit of it on dry hair to smooth or tame frizz and flyaways, but Garren said it works best on hair that's a bit damp (note: it does not need to be soaking wet, either).

"I would evenly distribute through the hair with a quarter sized droplet, work it through hands then apply to roots and ends," Garren said. "Then if you have a lot of hair, you'll have to use more, roughly three-four applications to get through the entire head. Then comb through the hair with a wide-toothed comb."

Although the product description says it's formulated for fine to medium or long hair, it's gentle enough for any hair texture, and Garren said it works great on naturally wavy and curly hair. It's extremely moisturizing for damaged or dry hair of any texture because ingredients like glycerin, sunflower seed extract, and vitamin B5 help retain hydration and add shine. This lotion is vegan, paraben-free, sulfate-free, gluten-free, and certified cruelty-free, not to mention that it also serves as a heat protectant if you use heat tools often.

Another bonus tip from Garren that's perfect for summer: "If you're going swimming, you might want to coat your hair prior to going in the water or even if you're sunbathing, as having this in your hair makes sure it's protected and conditioned. It works for both the beach or at the pool."

I'm not exaggerating when I say that my hair has never felt softer or looked shinier than after using WATERFALL. I've achieved similar softness from leave-in products before, but never shine like this. The amazing thing is that my hair looks just as good air-dried as styled when I use WATERFALL. I'm lucky that I have easy, mostly straight texture that doesn't require much styling, but it always looks more put together after blow-drying. Since using WATERFALL, I've let my hair air-dry more days than not, and it's never looked better.

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If your hair is dry, damaged, or lackluster, WATERFALL would be an ideal product for you too. I was wary of trying out a hair lotion, and now I'm hooked. After a few weeks of using WATERFALL, I can confirm: It. Is. Amazing.