“Twenty years of dreaming and ten years in the making,” is how Tracee Ellis Ross describes her journey creating her natural hair care line Pattern Beauty. Much like Rihanna’s FENTY, Tracee is staking her claim in the beauty industry by focusing on people the marketers usually take for granted. Ross is unabashed about knocking down barriers put up by gatekeepers and executives. It was a mode of survival, as she recounts “the beauty industry was actually specifically leaving me out.” Since these marketing hacks were only are hesitant to create products for 3 and 4 hair types, which is rich considering how the natural hair community proved to be a large market. But they also told her she couldn’t create anything without first partnering with “a professional.” Her reply, “…for most of us curly girls, we are our best experts. We know our hair better than anyone else.”
“Meet your hair, heart, self, and soul exactly where you are.”
In this interview, Ross details her childhood experience with haircare, and how the media representations and societal expectations were to have straight and controlled hair, in of itself a lie forced by white supremacy. And how as much as she tried to have “bouncy and behaved,” it never worked out. Forcing it was a miserable experience. That’s when she realized that conformity is not the answer. She says, “True beauty is a manifestation of your becoming… it’s about knowing yourself, loving yourself, understanding yourself, and nourishing yourself, which is the message of the brand: Meet your hair, heart, self, and soul exactly where you are.”
Pattern’s Mission Statement: Diversity and Affordability
Pattern Beauty is haircare designed mostly for 3b-4c patterns. Its most popular items include shampoos, conditioners, serums, creams, mists, masks, brushes, and gels. The Girlfriends and Black-ish actress is not just creating products for profit. She’s created a line that took the time to assess and address the needs of a community who wants to love their naturally curly and kinky patterns. She says of Pattern, “This is my heart in all of its bareness and rawness. This is my authentic self.”
“I believe that everyone should have access to their most beautiful hair, in their own bathroom.”
Ross could have easily created an expensive high-end brand for Hollywood starlets, that we may have tried to keep up with but inevitably couldn’t. But no, this is an egalitarian brand for everyone, with many products in the $25-$40 price range, and with great bundles in the $60-$140 area. This seems to fall in line with Pattern’s modus operandi. She wants as many people as possible to look at her products with hope, rather than longing. She says, “It was important for me not to design some high-end line that was $85 for a product you could co-wash your hair with twice.”
The Science Behind The Style
Despite what cosmetic elitists may have claimed, Ross is her own expert. She isn’t just concerned about creating products for people with her 3-type hair. Her focus is on all hair types, whether they curl, coil, or tighten. And she has a tight understanding on the science behind haircare. Much more so than those unaware of the racial biases within the mainstream. To the point where even on her tv shows, she’s done her own hair for years. As the alleged hair professionals on Girlfriends had no idea how to do it properly. What a damning statement.
“How water and hydration penetrates our cuticles are completely different. How water penetrates my hair is different from how it penetrates your hair,” Ross says while speaking with her team. Amen. She reminds us that hair care effectiveness research is based on white, straight hair. So, when it comes to working with chemists, black hair is like a new frontier. It wasn’t easy to prove this, since this is an inherently political subject, and the privileged are blind to even the most obvious discrepancies. This even made her cry at her first business pitch for Pattern. But she didn’t give up.
And Ross refused to back down from putting in the groundwork. She tested over 70 samples with her panel, ensuring the ingredients were safe and successful. And that’s important considering how many Black hair products are disproportionately littered with harmful chemicals. The fact that Ross worked to ensure a quality and safe product speaks miles for her and Pattern.
Tracee Ellis Ross’ Hair Line is for women with curls and kinks, by a woman with curls and kinks
Nothing’s more frustrating than seeing mainstream hair brands try to monetize on hair texture outside of their original target audience: straight hair. And though some of these mainstream products seem to hit the mark — and they even try to do the due diligence by hiring scientists of color — their lines are never filled with the same amount of care or attention to detail. Ross is aware of this, saying “The gatekeepers of the industry have not had an understanding of the power and the beauty of this community of people.”
Which is why it matters to support brands like Pattern Beauty. Tracee Ellis Ross’ hair line is by women with curls and kinks, for women with curls and kinks. As much as the major labels want to cash in on the demographic, we all know it’s not their focus, and would abandon them at the drop of a hat. While Ross genuinely committed and heartfelt to the group.
Ross’ line includes three conditioners, varying in slip. The conditioner comes in larger bottles than the shampoo because Ross understands curly hair care needs. Our hair needs more moisture than a dime-sized amount of product can offer. The inclusion of a microfiber towel and strong hair clip reminds us that this line is the creation of someone who has first-hand experience with the small details of natural hair woe. Ross declares that Pattern Beauty is “just for us.” And, the one thing left to say after that is: Finally!