Tracee Ellis Ross Convinced Me to Curl My Naturally Curly Hair for the First Time in a Decade

Her new Pattern curling iron is a hairstyling game changer.

side profile of a model with curly hair
(Image credit: PATTERN Beauty)

Confession time: I barely know how to use a curling iron. The last time I curled my hair was senior year of high school. These days, I fully embrace my type 3 curls in all their volume and inconsistency, simply applying leave-in conditioner and diffusing before running out the door. Why would I need a wand when I already have a head full of spirals?

But when Tracee Ellis Ross' haircare brand Pattern, which makes products specifically for curls, came out with a curling iron, I was intrigued. I got my hands on the iron—and spoke to Ross herself—to find out why I, someone with naturally curly hair, should add it to my routine.

"It gives me my perfect hair even when I'm not having a perfect hair day," Ross tells me during our sit-down. "The top layer of my hair does not curl as much as the underlayer. Even with a haircut that keeps the top layer shorter, I still don't have a continuity of curl pattern throughout my hair."

After a little coaching from the Pattern founder herself, I was ready to try Ross's "secret weapon" on my own. My full review, ahead.

Tracee Ellis Ross with the Pattern Beauty curling iron and its three attachments

Tracee Ellis Ross developed Pattern's newest launch as a result of her own experiences—and challenges—with a curling iron.

(Image credit: PATTERN Beauty)

What Makes Pattern's Curling Iron Different?

The nuances of this curling iron were born out of Ross' personal experience. When her curls failed to recover from a relaxer, she began using three different curling iron barrels (a 3/8-inch, a one-inch, and a 3/4-inch) to create a voluminous style that she cheekily calls her "70s porn hair." In the process, she became familiar with the trials and tribulations of an iron devotee: blowing out fuses while traveling in Europe, accidentally turning the iron off while using it, getting tangled in a cord that won't swivel, and encountering tools too hot for her delicate textured hair. She called multiple haircare companies and begged them to make a curling iron that met all of her needs, to no avail. Thus, Pattern's Curling Iron Bundle was born.

"What we did was create a triplet iron that allows you three different barrel sizes, which gives you access to all the different possibilities in your hair," she explains. "[The design] addresses many of my pet peeves, difficulties, and concerns about using an iron." The heat goes as low as 250 and reaches above 400 degrees. It's accompanied by a chic traveling case for women on the go and includes extra compartments to withstand the heat of the iron.

My Hair Routine

three models with different curl patterns

The curling iron has three interchangeable barrels so you can replicate any curl pattern, from loose waves to tight coils.

(Image credit: PATTERN Beauty)

After discussing the specifics of the iron, I revealed to Ross my shameful truth: I don't know how to use a curling iron. To my delight, Ross showed me and gave me a customized regimen.

Because my hair is thin, long, and prone to buildup, my curls often look weighed down at the top of my head. Ross recommended I wash my hair with Pattern's cleansing shampoo, which she says is ideal for thin hair, and the scalp detox, which is great for an occasional detox. Then, she said to follow up with the medium conditioner; the treatment mask that curbs shedding; or the transition mask, made for people in transitional curl phases; Palo Santo Leave-In Conditioner; and heat protectant.

My Review

After following Ross' prep recommendations, I blow-dried my curls with my head upside down using the diffuser attachment and scrunched my curls to create maximum volume. Finally, it was time for the iron.

It took some experimentation to get the settings right, but Pattern's curling iron gave me a boost of volume at the scalp. I got the best results when using the thinnest barrel (3/8 inch) on small sections, focusing exclusively on the areas near the roots. Because I had to experiment to find the best width, I appreciated how easy it was to switch between barrels. I also loved that the tool's entire carrying case was heat resistant because it enabled me to use it as a working mat, dropping tools on it without worrying about starting fires.

Although the videos on Pattern's website make using the barrel and clamp look like a breeze, my hair sometimes got tangled or stuck to the barrel. (This could, in part, be due to my lack of experience with the tool.)

I also discovered using 250 degrees isn't hot enough for my curls, instead, I used 300 degrees (the iron reaches up to 425). The temperature adjuster on the barrel is handy, located at the base of the tool, and has an intuitive spinning design. I inadvertently changed the temperature of the barrel a few times while moving around. Still, I appreciated the cool tip at the end of each barrel, which allowed me to maneuver the iron more easily without burning my fingers. The set comes with a glove, but it has elastic at the end that was too tight to fit over my hand.

photos of Gabrielle Ulubay before (left) and after (right) using the Pattern curling iron

Before and after my Pattern-induced hair transformation. Peep the volume at my part line!

(Image credit: Gabrielle Ulubay)

Despite these challenges, I liked the results, and once I got the hang of the settings, I found the curler worked quickly and effectively. Ultimately, my hair looked more voluminous and my curl pattern had more root-to-tip consistency. It also gave me a natural-looking finish and didn't fry my hair. I can see myself using it on mornings when my hair looks a little lackluster or at night when I want some extra volume. In fact, right after I filmed myself using the iron, I made plans to hang with friends because my hair looked too good to waste on a night in.

While I won't be using heat tools every day, it certainly won't be another decade before I try curling my hair again.

Shop My Tracee-Approved Routine

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, politics, culture, and fashion at Marie Claire and at publications including The New York Times, HuffPost Personal, Bustle, Alma, Muskrat Magazine, O'Bheal, and elsewhere. Her personal essay in The New York Times' Modern Love column kickstarted her professional writing career in 2018, and that piece has since been printed in the 2019 revised edition of the Modern Love book. Having studied history, international relations, and film, she has made films on politics and gender equity in addition to writing about cinema for Film Ireland, University College Cork, and on her personal blog, Before working with Marie Claire, Gabrielle worked in local government, higher education, and sales, and has resided in four countries and counting. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, and spent two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy.

Deeply political, she believes that skincare, haircare, and sexual wellness are central tenets to one's overall health and fights for them to be taken seriously, especially for people of color. She also loves studying makeup as a means of artistic expression, drawing on her experience as an artist in her analysis of beauty trends. She's based in New York City, where she can be found watching movies or running her art business when she isn't writing. Find her on Twitter at @GabrielleUlubay or on Instagram at @gabrielle.ulubay, or follow her art at