In the natural hair community, there’s no one right way to maintain our various locks. For as long as we’ve all been growing out our hair, we’ve been debating the best way to maintain its health. Are oils actually harmful to our hair? Do we prefer tape-ins over traditional weaves? Maybe creamy crack isn’t all that bad after all? Even with all of the discourse, one thing that most of us can agree on — besides the fact that we need to gatekeep our hair products and that getting your hair done in a salon has become a hassle — is that heat damage is not a good look, and as such, most of the natural hair girlies avoid regular heat usage outside of our annual silk press. Just in time, Tracee Ellis Ross and PATTERN Beauty have entered the chat, and with the company’s latest launch, they’re looking to change your mind about using heat on your hair.
After years of holding on to heat-damaged strands and sporting three different textures on my head, I officially went natural in 2012. Learning about what to do with my natural hair was an extensive, sometimes exasperating process, and even a decade in, I’m still pretty basic with my approach to my hair; when I’m not sporting a protective style like knotless braids or wigs, my go-to look includes a fro, a puff, or two-strand twists. Styles that include heat have never been part of the equation. Blowouts, wand curls, silk presses — none of my 4C (4Z? Who knows??) business, thank you.
Admittedly, I still have a little bit of trauma from my relaxer days. I’m 10 years removed, but I can still hear the sizzle of a flat iron, smell the powerful odor of burnt hair, feel the heat of a hot comb dangerously close to my ears. Even worse, my hair always looked so…lifeless when I used heat on it, nothing like the springy kinks and curls I’m rocking these days. How could I ever go back to that?
Tracee Ellis Ross is here to help. She may be natural hair goals for a lot of us, but Ross has no shortage of her own heat horror stories. “As a pre-teen, heat on hair was the name of the game,” she told Unbothered. “It was a tool used to remove texture to beat my hair into submission, combined with relaxers and texturizers that weren’t designed to support my curl pattern. Like so many of us in the community, I have that relationship to heat. In about 10th grade I left heat behind and started learning about my pattern and loving it. Then, during my Girlfriends years, I had someone using heat on my hair in a bad way, and my curl pattern was ruined yet again. There was no bounce back, so I had to figure out, while still on camera, how to wear my hair and nurse it back to health.”
Ross found that heat was the key to learning how to love her hair again. She started using heat tools like blow dryers and diffusers in a bevy of interesting new ways (always on a lower setting) and gained confidence in her newfound ability to shapeshift while still maintaining her hair’s health. That same excitement about her hair is exactly what Ellis is looking to share with PATTERN’s customers. She’s trying to heal our hair trauma.
With the reveal of PATTERN’s latest product, the PATTERN blow dryer, the Black-ish actress is hoping to show that heat can absolutely be part of our natural hair routines — with minimal damage, at that. The blow dryer, which is the haircare company’s first-ever heat tool since its launch in 2019, promises to “unlock endless possibilities” for people with textured locks. Those hairstyles that you’ve been saving on Pinterest and TikTok or trying to achieve with wigs? Ross wants you to finally try them on your own hair.
Unlike so many other heat tools in the market, the PATTERN blow dryer was made with textured hair in mind, a result of thorough consumer research and testing that explored the many ways people with natural hair utilize heat on a daily basis. What Ross and the PATTERN team ended up with was a chic-looking, professional-grade blow dryer that comes with four attachments, streamlining the styling process from beginning to end: a diffuser that provides volume and definition, a heavy-duty wide-tooth comb (that won’t break, no matter your kink!) and brush for easy detangling, and a concentrator nozzle to evenly distribute the heat around your head. To go with the blow dryer, PATTERN is also offering a Heat Protectant and a Shine Spray with a light Crambe Abyssinica Seed, Sunflower, and Jojoba Oil formula that’s all shine, no grease.
“A heat tool was always part of my original PATTERN dream,” Ross shared. “Heat actually unlocked possibility and supported me in finding new and fun choices when my hair was damaged. When my natural pattern was temporarily lost, the use of gentle heat allowed me to work with my hair to discover different styles safely and still be on camera.”
“I‘ve wanted to do this from the beginning, but little did I know you can’t just say you want to make a blow dryer with diffusers and attachments and get it the next week — it's taken almost two years,” she continued. “But that’s what happens when you’re making something that plugs into a wall. There are a lot of very real things that have to be considered and it takes a lot of time. It is the perfect time now and I am so excited. I think it is the perfect evolution of where we are as a brand.”
The blow dryer was designed to address the textured hair community, and Ross made sure to pay special attention to the concerns of 4B and 4C naturals who have long been wary of the industry blatantly ignoring our hair’s unique needs. In conjunction with the rest of PATTERN’s extensive hair care line, Ross hopes that her customers will feel empowered while doing their hair knowing that they have options because everything was made with them in mind.
I can count the number of times that I’ve applied heat on my hair since going natural, and most of those instances ended in disaster; most recently, my first (and perhaps last) ever silk press lasted for exactly one downtown train ride to happy hour, and I spent several days trying to revive my natural texture. But as nervous I am about my hair pattern bouncing back after a run-through with a heating tool, PATTERN’s blow dryer actually feels like it’s right up my alley. The more creative I get with my natural hair, the more I fall in love with it. Black hair can literally do anything — and PATTERN can help.
“It’s been a long road to knowing, understanding, and eventually, loving my curls,” Ross said. “Growing up, society told me there was a right way to wear my hair and a right way to look. So I tried to beat my curls into submission — putting body lotion in my hair, sleeping in rollers, and spending entire Saturdays at the salon waiting for a blowout. I even whipped out an iron (the kind you use for clothes) in an attempt to straighten my hair that way. The result was damaged, broken strands. Then, I began the restorative journey towards loving my hair and embracing my natural texture as it recovered. Today, my hair is healthy and does anything and everything with the support of great products and tools.”
“Our community deserves the best,” she reiterated. “Our community deserves beautiful. I created PATTERN to exceed the beauty needs of the curly, coily & tight texture community. I am thrilled to be able to offer a curl conscious and chic, professional-grade blow dryer with four attachments for $189. It's a great product, at an excellent price point, that offers endless hair styling possibilities.”