I should start by telling you that my relationship with my hair has always been a strained one. From weaves to the tightest buns I could manage with just my two little human hands to many failed wash-and-go attempts and more heat styling than I care to admit, I've spent my entire life just trying to keep my hair under control. It's true that over the last few years, the social narrative surrounding natural hair has taken on an almost overwhelmingly positive tone, and while that's helped me to confront my utter miseducation about my natural-hair needs, it hasn't solved all my problems. My 4B hair texture has been the source of more stress than just about anything else in my life. I've found myself yanking on, fighting against, and crying over my coils. What's more? I know for a fact I'm not alone.
All this to say, I (along with every other curly girl out there, I'm sure) have tried just about every product under the sun that promises "manageable," "soft," and "insert condescending adjective here" hair—shampoos, conditioners, pre-poos, after-poos, serums, milks, and a misguided mayonnaise-and–egg yolk mixture I read about online that one time. So when I got wind that actor, producer, and all-around badass Tracee Ellis Ross was formulating a haircare line specifically for the textured-haired goddesses among us, I knew it would be something special. I'd idolized her since watching her play everyone's BFF Joan on Girlfriends with my mom in the '90s, but since then, she's solidified herself as a bona fide icon who is at once impossibly cool, unapologetically herself, and totally at peace with her big ol' mane. I mean, she's goals.
Early on Saturday morning, after spending hours taking down the box braids I'd be wearing for most of the summer the night prior, I buckled down for a comprehensive wash day to put the new system to the ultimate test. Just in time for its launch at Ulta stores across the U.S. and online, read on for my honest thoughts on Pattern haircare.
I'm not going to lie: It took me a couple of glasses of wine to find the courage to share photos of my hair in its natural state here. I've talked about the post-braids hair woes I sometimes face when I'm fresh out of the protective style, and my hair was living in struggle city. My strands were dull, brittle, and lifeless. Help me, Auntie Tracee!
I started by detangling my hair with a wide-toothed comb before concentrating a quarter-size amount of the Hydration Shampoo into my scalp. My first thought was how nice and fresh it smelled—a characteristic you don't always find in hair products formulated for textured hair. The formula felt thick in my hand but lathered and rinsed away with no issues.
Next, I filled my entire palm with the Heavy Conditioner and worked it onto my head, paying extra attention to my broken ends. Once my hair was sufficiently coated, I used the Shower Brush to keep my hair detangled and simultaneously spread the product more evenly throughout my mane. Then, something amazing happened: When I pulled the sturdy brush through my saturated hair, the strands bounced back into most perfect little corkscrews. This might not seem like a big deal, but considering the state my hair had been in just minutes prior, it felt like cause for celebration.
I then fastened my hair using the Hair Clip, covered the whole setup in a plastic shower cap, and went about the rest of my shower while my hair marinated a bit.
After rinsing my hair free of all the conditioner I'd applied, I added a generous heap of the Leave-In Conditioner, with three drops of the Jojoba Oil Hair Serum mixed in. As I spread it through my hair (which was still sopping wet), I could feel the products sealing in moisture. I went in with the Shower Brush one more time (a step I might skip in the future because I feel like it was a little too much tension on my hair) before towel-drying.
After the full routine, my hair felt squeaky-clean but also super soft and hydrated. I'll admit that my hair was drier than it normally is after having had it braided up for weeks, but the Pattern products helped bring it back to life from this vulnerable state. Pro tip: the Shower Brush is called that for a reason. It might be best to only use it on wet hair that's coated in conditioner.