Rolling Out

Natural hair product pioneer Mahisha Dellinger shares tips for ‘CURListas’

Photo courtesy of Shelby Larkins

Mahisha Dellinger’s mantra is simple. Curly hair should be healthy, frizz-free, defined, and effortlessly fabulous. Consequently, as a beauty advocate and product innovator, Dellinger worked passionately to produce an award-winning line of organic hair care products for women and girls with natural waves, curls and kinks. Frustrated with the lack of effective products for her newly natural, curly hair, Dellinger left her post as marketing manager at Intel Corporation to pursue her passion to giving consumers with naturally curly hair effective and eco-conscious products that are natural and safe for all ages to use. In 2002, Dellinger pioneered the newly natural market when she launched CURLS, a family of organic hair care products targeted for women embracing their natural textures … a market previously unanswered by the beauty industry. Dellinger’s astute business acumen and natural talent for delivering market-driven products gave way to an instant demand for her product line. Soon thereafter, CURLS was available all over the United States, Canada, Brazil, Africa and the U.K.. As CEO and founder of CURLS, Dellinger singlehandedly built a strong demand for her brand and products. Soon Target, Sally Beauty, Wal-Mart and CVS came knocking at her door. CURLS has partnered with these national retailers and is currently in negotiations with Boots in the United Kingdom.

Dellinger, who was recently honored by rolling out as one of the Top 25 Women of Dallas, shared her journey and valuable tips on hair and haircare maintenance for “CURListas.”

Were you always interested in hair/hair care? If not at what point in your life did you develop an interest?

As long as I remember, I’ve always had a fascination with hair. I started to comb and maintain my hair from the age of 5 on. … I taught myself how to French braid by the age of 6. My mom didn’t have to do my hair for picture day, I preferred to do it myself! Taking great care of it and always looking my best was important. CURLS is just an extension of that fascination.

There on so many natural hair care brands and products in the market right now. You entered the category early, how do you continue to grow and sustain the CURLS brand and differentiate yourself from the others?

Very true! My motto is “you must innovate or you will evaporate.” We have been in the industry for 15 years. Keeping the brand fresh, customers excited and sales high don’t happen by sheer luck, it is all hard work, innovation, and being authentic. This is why CURLS, a pioneer in the natural hair care category is not only still relevant, we are still thriving and growing.

Best tip/tips for women transitioning from processed to natural hair?

I created my Blueberry Bliss Curl Collection for natural and transitioning CURListas. Blueberry Extract, the key ingredient in the entire collection, is clinically proven to repair damage, prevent breakage, AND encourage hair growth!

Very important note: the point where your natural and your relaxed hair meet is the most vulnerable — therefore is more likely to break if not properly handled and taken care of. You want to keep your hair well conditioned and hydrated to ensure a smooth, breakage free transition.

Here are a few key steps that you must commit to:
1. You definitely want to start by giving yourself a weekly deep treatment with heat for the next few months.
2. It is imperative that you moisturize your hair daily with a rich leave-in conditioner to soften the hair, ease combability, moisturize and condition.
3. Over shampooing (with traditional shampoos) and under conditioning are common culprits for dry, breakage-prone hair. Therefore, shampooing more than [once] a week is not recommended. On the other “shampoo-less” days do a conditioning rinse — rinse hair to remove styling products (this is where using the right products that are water soluble come in), apply an ample amount of conditioner, comb through, rinse and proceed with styling. Doing so will pump much-needed moisture back into your hair without stripping away essential nutrients, rinse away unnecessary dirt and oil and give yourself a fresh, clean start.
4. Using the right products, with quality ingredients is absolutely necessary. Avoid products with mineral and/or petrolatum oil in them…as both of these synthetic oils coat and suffocate the hair shaft, blocking moisture out thus drying out the hair. Remember, dryness leads to breakage. If applied directly to the scalp, mineral and petrolatum oil can actually retard growth. If your hair requires oil, always opt for a natural oil such as olive, jojoba, coconut, almond oil, etc. These natural oils actually penetrate and moisturize the hair.
5. Avoid drying products such as gel, hairspray and mousse with drying alcohol. If you need curl enhancement, opt for curl enhancers, lotions and creams.
6. Reduce the number of times per month you heat process your hair. If you currently are doing so three times a month, cut back to two times a month with a goal of [once] a month max! This will ensure the health and integrity of your hair.
7. Make sure you get regular trims … starting off with an inch or two is a great idea!

photo provided by Xavier Jordan Photography
Dellinger (right) with her Mom, Mrs. Turner at FSF Top 25 Women of Dallas. Photo provided by Xavier Jordan Photography

CURLS has been featured in a host of beauty publications, including lnStyle, Essence, Glamour, Ebony, Modern Salon, and various other hair and salon trade publications. Additionally, Dellinger made an appearance on The Real daytime talk show. Discerning celebrity consumers like Halle Berry, Alicia Keys, Nia Long, Tia Mowry, Chili of TLC, Blair Underwood, Ashanti, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Echo Kellum seek out the superior quality and natural components of CURLS products.

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