But playful IG posts aside, hair – highly textured, kinky, curly hair in particular – is something Ellis Ross takes seriously. So seriously that she’s launching Pattern, a haircare line for people with curls ranging from 3B to 4C textures.
“I was dreaming about doing this all through high school,” she tells Allure. “I had logged hours and hours in the trenches with my hair. Many of us can chronicle the journey of our self-acceptance through the journey of our hair. I think, in all honesty, the timing is perfect.”
Ask anyone in my circle of friends, and they’ll undoubtedly name Tracee Ellis Ross as one of their celebrity hair icons. A quick scroll down her Instagram feed will give you a clue as to why: Her larger-than-life curls fill the frames of her selfies, often tagged #hairlove.
In some posts, she wears her hair brushed-out and happily frizzy. In others, she showcases more defined, fluffy curls. Sometimes, she’s in the stylist’s chair goofing off while getting glammed. Her posts are celebratory, relatable, and yes, a little silly. One video she added to her feed shows her with her hair pulled back – save for the very wet and clumped together curly bangs and tendrils framing her face.
“What are you doing with your hair this holiday weekend? This is what I’m gonna do with mine,” she says, bursting into laughter.
It was difficult as little as 15 years ago to find hair-care products actually made for styling and maintaining Afro-textured hair in its natural state. Even as a child, Ellis Ross (who grew up with a superstar mom,) struggled to find affordable haircare options for her curls. It’s why it was so important for her to make sure the line was priced reasonably, especially at a time where more black women than ever are embracing their texture as it is.
“If we are in a time right now, where we have gone from our hair being about a revolution to a celebration, where we allow our crowns to flourish as electric, beautiful, and gravity-defying, then we need for everyone to have access to those products so that their hair can feel as beautiful and as hydrated as it should.” In addition to its affordability, Pattern also offers its shampoo and conditioners in different sizes – that means three, 13, and jumbo 29-ounce conditioners, y’all. Prices start at $9 for 3-ounce bottles of the shampoo, conditioners, and leave-in, and peak at $42 for a 29-ounce bottle.
Healthy, beautiful, hydrated, and clumped for the gods is the name of the game with Pattern. Ellis Ross’s first range includes a shampoo, three different kinds of conditioner (Medium, Heavy, and Intense), two hair oil serums ($25), a brush ($17), clip to hold your hair in place ($10), and a microfiber towel ($19) – basically, everything you need on wash day to ensure you have excellent third and hell, maybe fourth or fifth-day hair.
“The goal is to give people access to their best curls in the bathroom,” she explains. The shower is where the actress says she gets her best curls, so she made sure in playing with the formulations that the products could give the slip, hydration, and definition highly-textured hair needs before styling. “I don’t believe that people should have to be dependent on a professional to feel their most beautiful and for their hair to be healthy.”
I couldn’t wait to try Pattern, and spoiler, I didn’t. I recruited three other women whose textures range from 3B to 4C to try it for themselves, too.
Jihan Forbes, digital hair editor, Allure: 3C/4A
I’m always excited to try new curly-hair products, especially when there is absolutely no ambiguity as to whose curls exactly they’re made for. (Saves me the inconvenience of having to re-wash my hair when a product can’t hold these tight curls.) So of course, I was eager to try Pattern. My hair is a kinky-curly 3C/4A texture that needs a ton of moisture and definition in order for my curls to look great.
I started by using a pre-poo I was testing, then, I washed it all out with the Pattern moisturising shampoo. I paid close attention to what my hair was doing after I rinsed it out. I noticed my curls looked super curly. Excellent. I then continued with the Medium conditioner, which was moisturising as expected.
I can’t say my hair felt more moisturised than it does with many of the other conditioners I used, but keep in mind there are three different ones in the collection. After washing that out, I went on to the intense conditioner, keeping that on for about 20 minutes.
Deep conditioning is my favorite part of the hair-care process. It feels the most indulgent, and so does this intense conditioner. It’s heavy for sure, and I felt as if it did a great job of further softening my curls while keeping that definition. The leave-in conditioner is wonderful – it feels light, but not so light that your hair dries up at the end of the day. Plus, it melted away any tangles I had with the quickness, creating the perfect base for me to style my hair as you see above. After applying my stylers, I ran a bit of the jojoba oil through my hair to bring it all together.
After a few hours, my hair did get a little frizzy at the crown, but it was a bit humid that day. The rest of my hair looked shiny, defined, and healthy.
Faith Cummings, freelance writer: 4B/4C
“Tracee Ellis Ross is forever hair goals, so I was hyped when I found out she was launching a haircare line. Right off the bat, I loved the product selection. I recently got my hair highlighted by George Papanikolas, so it was all about figuring out how these products work with my other ones geared towards colour care. When I finally got in the shower to wash my hair, I was surprised at how much the Hydration Shampoo lathered, but also left my hair feeling clean and strong.
I was a bit on the fence about which conditioner to use: Heavy or Intense? I decided on the Intense to maximise hydration in the shower. I made the right choice. It made my hair so soft, I haven’t stopped using it since. Next time, I’ll test it out as a deep conditioning mask. For this wash, I wanted a treatment geared towards preserving my colour, so I deep conditioned with the Brass Off mask from Matrix.
I applied the leave-in and then styled my hair with the Creme of Nature Pure Honey Shrinkage Defense Curl Activator for my twist-out. To seal my ends, I used the Pattern jojoba oil. I really appreciate Pattern for adding an oil to its initial lineup – most brands do not offer that at first, and it’s a crucial element in my haircare stash year-round. After my hair completely dried, I took out my twists to find that they were poppin’ and my curls were super moisturised. I can’t wait to see the rollout of the products and where the line goes.”
Akili King, Vogue beauty assistant: 3B/3C
“I loved the products on my wash-and-go. They smell really great and they defined and moisturised my hair really well. The Intensive Conditioner was my favorite. I used it before I washed my hair with the Hydration Shampoo and Medium Conditioner. I applied the Intensive Conditioner beforehand because I like how a pre-wash mask keeps my hair extra moisturised after I rinse with shampoo.
My hair felt soft, even after it was cleansed. The conditioner made it really easy to detangle my hair as well. After showering, I topped it off with the leave-in, which gave my hair definition without a crunchy feel.
I need to use a lot of product to really see the results. I’m not a fan of how a wash-and-go looks on me at first – I prefer day two and three hair. These products passed the test. I was so happy with how my hair looked as the week went on. I used the leave-in to freshen up my curls during the week, which worked beautifully. Oh, and the oils? Well, those were just a blessing on my scalp and ends.”
Gabi Thorne, editorial assistant 3C/4A
“Like most folks with kinky-curly hair, I have several textures on my head. There are 3C strands, 4A parts, and even parts that skew 4B. My tighter coils can be a bit difficult to moisturise at times – especially with a scalp like mine that gets irritated easily. I used the Pattern products to do a wash-and-go after taking out my box braids. The Hydrating Shampoo was great for clarifying my post-braids scalp without stripping my hair of moisture.
I left the Heavy Conditioner in my hair as a deep treatment for a few minutes before detangling. To complete my wash-and-go, I used the jojoba oil and leave-in conditioner to coat my strands, which kept my hair moisturised throughout the day without feeling greasy. My styling was pretty low-maintenance other than a little edge control and a barrette so I could feel extra cute.”