Tracee Ellis Ross’ Pattern Beauty Line Expands With More Than Her Roots In Mind

Tracee Ellis Ross is the woman we have come to love not only for her infectious personality, poise, and grace — but her gorgeous tresses and versatile style. The saavy business woman and actress has dug deep into her own roots to now expand her Pattern Beauty line with new hot tools and more. Amongst the many brands out there with the sole goal of creating airtight coils, waves, and spirals — Ross has taken it a step further, carefully crafting tools and products that are Black hair friendly and infused with safe materials.

Although many have identified Ross by her larger-than-life crown, she’s actually credited a heat session-gone-wrong that motivated her to start her own line.

“When Girlfriends finished, I looked in the mirror and I was like, ‘I feel like Joan, and I want to look like Tracee,” she recalled after getting her hair styled years ago. “I decided to go to a stylist that I had worked with and have her straighten my hair and she used a stove iron. I asked her, ‘Will my hair curl back up?’ She said yes, but my instinct was ‘no.’ My hair looked great, it was bone straight. But my hair did not curl back up and I lost my natural curl pattern.”

“And so, from the beginning of launching Pattern, I have wanted to reintroduce heat in a way that our customer could have access to possibilities, explore new styles, cut style time down, and still keep the health of their hair up to par,” Ross added.

Tracee Ellis Ross

Tracee Ellis Ross poses with the “Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series” award for “Girlfriends” poses in the press room during the 38th annual NAACP Image Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on March 2, 2007 in Los Angeles, California.

Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

The award-winning Pattern beauty line already offers an array of products for kinkier textures, but now it introduces the 3-in-1 Pattern Interchangeable Curling Iron. The all-new styling tool has eight heat settings ranging from 250-degrees to 425 and uniquely includes a quick 30-second heat up time. Solving the many of the issues that comes with traditional heating tools, the iron has a twist unlock/lock interchangeable mechanism and built-in auto shut-off feature after 60 minutes.

Available in the warm color of “caramella,” the set includes a 3/8” barrel to enhance natural corkscrew patterns or create tight curls, a 3/4” barrel for defined curls, and a 1” barrel for classic curls. The ceramic material also emits natural ions for enhanced shine and ensures even heat distribution; minimizing heat damage and maintaining consistent styling results. To make traveling easier and also serve as a multipurpose product, the Interchangeable Curling Iron includes a Heat-Protective Glove and luxe Storage Pouch that doubles as a heat-resistant mat.

Pattern’s newest heat tool “further redefines our relationship with our textures and heat styling,” according to the 51-year-old. “It’s not just a curling iron; it’s an expression of our commitment to providing endless possibilities for diverse curl patterns.”

3-in-1 Pattern Interchangeable Curling Iron

Pattern Beauty

In an exclusive conversation with VIBE, the Black-ish star spoke about her business “baby,” developing a loving relationship with her hair, and also essential hair care tips that she’s learned over the years.

VIBE: I just love the color of the heat tools. It just so warm and inviting. How did you just decide that’s what you wanted it to look like?

Tracee Ellis Ross: It took us time to actually develop something that was safely done, within our price point, and was beautiful. When we launched the blow-dryer, my dream was to create heat tools that looked beautiful in your bathroom and looked like something I had never seen. Something that was aspirational and yet accessible, something that was beautiful and matched who we are as people — so, we came up with the caramel color and extended that into the curling iron tools.

I’ve definitely been a victim of heat damage and using heat settings on curling irons that I shouldn’t have used. Was heat damage one of the earliest lessons you remember learning about when it comes to haircare?

I managed heat damage or damaged hair multiple times in my journey as a hair-wearing person. It started when I was young because I used to relax my hair and go to the salon every Saturday at Joseph’s and get my blowout. I would sit under the dryer, do the curl set, the roller set, and then get blown out. I didn’t know how to care for my hair and that much heat on relaxer, and it didn’t go well. I would take my non-professional self at 15, 16, 17, 18 and just add more heat to it. I was using that blow-dryer where you would hook the comb onto it. I just would straighten it within an inch of its life to the point it looked like there was snow on it because it was so burned and damaged.

Oh yeah, I still use that kind of blow-dryer sometimes.

I spent all those years between modeling and Girlfriends, nursing my hair back to health, not putting any heat on my hair, and learning my hair and which products worked. That was honestly when I started dreaming of Pattern. I brought all of that discovery and all of that experience into it. We solved for a lot of those issues with the blow-dryer, and we did the same thing with the curling iron.

Have you ever felt like your hair took over your identity?

For many years, I had a small crew of friends and we were the “lampshades” because of the mushroom shape of our hair at the time. I do think for many years my hair preceded me. It’s one of the ways that I honor my legacy. It’s one of the ways that I honor myself. Our texture tells the story of what we come from and our history. So, I was really okay with my hair being a huge part of my identity. For many years, I think my hair and my style were two of the ways that people knew me.

I’m 51 now. I’m going through menopause and the texture of my hair changes. The gray grows out really quickly. I could be coloring my hair every three weeks, but recently, I was like, ‘Maybe that’s a bit much and I need to give these beautiful locks of mine some rest.’ I love a snatched slick-back. It just gives me a little tightness. I haven’t done any Botox or anything to my face, so a little tight snatch really helps me. Sometimes I love wearing it out, sometimes I love wearing it back. I don’t mind being defined by my hair. I think my hair is a really good expression of me. I think it is filled with endless possibility.

Speaking to the history behind your hair and just how you’ve learned to care for it, how big of an influence has your mom, Diana Ross, been on the way you style and take care of your hair?

I come from a family of big hair, not just my mother. My sister Rhonda’s got a lot of hair, my nephew’s got a lot of hair. I mean, we are a hair family. I used to joke when I was in high school, I was like, ‘You do not want to go to the movies and sit behind the Ross family. We are just a family of huge hair.’ Growing up, my mom loved big hair and supported my hair the way it naturally grew out of my head. I was the one that wanted to go and get straighter styles and lean into what culture was showing me, because there were so few people that were wearing their hair naturally. Luckily, I had my mom to mirror back my natural hair, but when you’re a teenager, your mother — I don’t care if she’s Diana Ross — is not who you think is cool. You’re trying to look like other people in music and the people on TV.

I think I discovered my natural hair because I was an athlete in high school. I was a track runner and I was on the swim team. I couldn’t maintain my hair. I would wake up at 5:00 in the morning and the first thing I would do is dial 1-212-777-1212, and you would hear, ‘The time is 5:05 AM and the temperature is 79 degrees.’ Then they would say the percentage of humidity and if the percentage was anything over 72, I would not wash my hair.

Smokey Robinson (2nd L), Berry Gordy (3rd L), host Tracee Ellis Ross (center R) stand onstage as Rhonda Ross Kendrick (L) presents the Lifetime Achievement award to honoree Diana Ross (center L)

Smokey Robinson (2nd L), Berry Gordy (3rd L), host Tracee Ellis Ross (center R) stand onstage as Rhonda Ross Kendrick (L) presents the Lifetime Achievement award to honoree Diana Ross (center L) during the 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

What are some fantasy styles that you’d like to try, but maybe you’re just a little too timid to do?

I do think I’ve tried every style. I’ve done the faux locks. That was fantastic and I love that. I even went red. It looked awful. I looked like Ronald McDonald. I wouldn’t mind a 90’s pixie-cut but I don’t think y’all are ever going to see that. I’ve done it in a wig. I don’t think I will ever cut my hair off.

What has been your most memorable bad hair day, and good hair day?

Let me tell you something, there is a BET Comedy Awards where I’m wearing a gray suede dress and I looked like a grown up Shirley Temple. Literally, I was like, ‘Whoa, that was different.’ I felt so cute. My favorite hair moments are right after I wash my hair, and I’m not doing anything with it — it’s just doing what it does. Since Pattern has been born, I now have access to my best hair on any given day, because of the way I care for it with our products.

Tracee Ellis Ross

Tracee Ellis Ross arrives at the 2005 BET Comedy Icon Awards at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on September 25, 2005 in Pasadena, California.

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

How comfortable are you styling your own hair now?

Now, I can do my hair because the thing is, now my hair is in great health and it has endless possibilities. The truth is, my natural styles — like my ’70s porn hair and my wash-and-go hair like the ‘Tracee hair’ that you know — I do best. Sometimes I have to document it, I’m like, ‘Oh my God,’ somebody needs to see this other than just me in the mirror. Can I cornrow my hair? ‘Yeah.’ Am I my great at it? ‘No.’ So box braids and all those fabulous styles that the beautiful artists that I work with create, that’s their magic. I offer inspiration. I know my hair better than anyone else, but I’m not that artist, I don’t try and do those kinds of things.

The Pattern Interchangeable Curling Iron will be available on March 20 for $249 on Pattern Beauty’s official website and at Ulta Beauty starting April 2024.

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