When I say I’ve tested more than 200 curl products, I think I’m actually low-balling that number. It’s probably closer to 300…maybe 400? Yeah, that sounds like bullshit, but not when you consider the fact that I’ve spent the last four years of my beauty-editing life testing at least one new curl product a week, in addition to the decade I spent throwing my allowance at every drugstore curl product I could find.
And despite the billions of dollars I’ve slathered on my hair at this point, nothing—and I truly mean nothing—has ever come close to the curl cream that I first fell in love with in high school, almost a decade ago. Yes, this is a love story, folks.
It’s important to first understand that my curls are confusing as hell. Not only are they baby-fine and super limp, but they’re also part-flat and wavy, and part-ringlet-y (that’s 2B/3A curls, for you curl-guide followers), which means that almost every curl product either weighs down my hair or leaves it feeling too soft and fuzzy. So over the years, I’ve filled my bathroom and bedroom with the newest serums, shampoos, creams, jellies, mousses, leave-ins, and every other curl “must-have” that I saw in message boards and articles, and still never came close to the AnnaLynee McCord curls of my dreams.
And then, in high school, I found it, the holy-grail curl cream that gave my curls almost weightless hold and definition, without ever looking greasy, shiny, or stiff: Beyond The Zone Noodle Head Curling Crème. Never heard of it? I’m not surprised. Unless you spend every waking minute at Sally Beauty, the only place Beyond The Zone is officially sold, and have an affinity for traffic-cone-orange packaging, you would probably never pick this sucker up. But after reading a billion praise-worthy comments on a random 2008 message board, I bought a tube, tried it out, and proceeded to fall in love.
Following all of the instructions the internet strangers gave me (instructions that I still follow to this day, by the way), I turned off the shower, gently squeezed the water from my hair with my hands, then raked a nickel-size dollop of curl cream through my sopping-wet hair, from root to tip, before plopping my curls (I won’t go into plopping, but if you don’t already plop your curls to dry them, it will truly, truly blow your mind). When my curls dried, they were smooth, totally frizz-free, defined, and voluminous. You know, all of the words that you rarely say in conjunction with “my curls.”
And despite having my first-ever “good” hair day, I pushed the curl crème to the back of my shower and continued to test new products, convinced I’d find something better. Flash-forward to 2017, and that orange bottle is the only beauty product that’s been consistently stocked in my shower for almost a decade, despite me having tested over 200 (maybe 400?) curl products along the way. I wish I could tell you there was some magical ingredient in it that explained its powers, but there really isn’t—it’s just the perfect combination of all wonderful things, without parabens, gluten, or silicones. And yes, it deserves all of the attention in the world. So even though I’ll continue testing curl products, hoping for one of them to finally replace this top contender, I won’t get my hopes up. Just please never discontinue this product, OK, Beyond The Zone? Thanks.