Curls Founder Mahisha Dellinger

CURLS founder Mahisha Dellinger

Growing up multi-ethnic with thick curls, Mahisha Dellinger felt no products were available for people like her.

In the ethnic market, the products were heavy and greasy, designed for women who wanted to fight their kinks and curls. In the traditional haircare market, products were aimed toward finer, looser curls that looked nothing like hers. She was forced to create her own kitchen concoctions, at one point using grease and water to control her mane. She knew others must be dealing with the same frustrations.

“I was extremely frustrated,” Dellinger recalls. “I had a ton of products under my sink, but nothing worked. I didn’t have any options for natural maintenance of hair like mine.”

So she set about to create her own products, hiring a cosmetic chemist and developing the products she always wanted — products designed to meet the unique needs of multi-ethnic women and girls with naturally curly hair.

In 2003, she launched her company with four CURLS and four Curly Q’s products for kids. Now the line has grown to 11 CURLS products, seven Curly Q’s products and three in her new baby line, It’s a Curl!. These include a full range of cleansers, moisturizers, conditioners and styling products. The products contain natural ingredients such as Monoi de Tahiti, green tea extract, pomegranate seed oil and soy protein to hydrate, strengthen and nourish curls and kinks.

Curls products

CURLS products

Curls products

Curly Q’s products

Curls products

It’s a Curl! products

“We’re going strong,” Dellinger says. “I’d like CURLS to be the Paul Mitchell of curly hair.”

She’s well on her way. In 2007 and 2008, CURLS was named one of the Top 5 Finalists for “Favorite MultiCultural Company” in’s 7th Annual Stylist Choice Awards. The Stylist Choice Awards are among the most coveted awards in the professional salon industry as winners are chosen by salon professionals. Other finalists included some of the giants in the industry, such as Paul Mitchell, Redken and Farouk Systems.

Her products have also become a favorite of celebrities such as Ashanti, Nia Long and Halle Berry.

Much of Dellinger’s success has come from her innovation as well as her ability to listen to what her customers are asking for. In 2006, she teamed up with NaturallyCurly to develop a “Holy Grail” product for her CURLS line.

Her goal was to develop a must-have product for women with a variety of curl types. She received hundreds of applications from NaturallyCurly members who wanted to help. Ten were selected for the CURLS “Dream Team.” Participants represented a wide range of ethnicities and curl types — from kinky curly to looser, fine curls. And they hail from a variety of locations and climates, including Toronto, Canada, Oklahoma City, OK, San Jose, Calif. and China Grove, N.C.

The result was CURLS Whipped Cream, a 4-in-1 product that provides curl definition and frizz protection while providing moisture, sheen and protection from the elements. That project also netted Curly Q’s Custard for kids and Curl Souffle, a lighter version of the Whipped Cream, containing Monoi de Tahiti, pure aloe leaf juice, natural oils (meadowfoam, grapeseed, avocado, soybean”>, rich butters (shea, mango”> and hair-strengthening ingredients (panthenol, lecithin”>.

“The Holy Grail Project was great!” Dellinger says. “I learned at lot from my customers and truly enjoyed the interaction. As a result, CURLS is going to continue to employ virtual product developers/testers for all new product research, development and testing. I am convinced there isn’t a better way!”

Dellinger’s interests extends well beyond growing her hair-care company. She has found an altruistic way to use her products and experience to help others. She works with adoption agencies across the country, donating products and teaching multi-ethnic hair care to parents who adopt across racial lines.

To find out more, go to

Check out this video on how to use CURLS products, which are available in CurlMart.

Check out other Spotlight stories here.

Michelle Breyer

Michelle Breyer

As co-founder of, a website for curly hair she began with her business partner and friend, Gretchen Heber, Michelle Breyer helped create the leading community and resource for people with curly hair. Frustrated by the lack of information on curly hair and the limited products available in the marketplace, the duo launched the site in 1998 with the help of a 14-year-old web designer. When Procter & Gamble called three years later to advertise to the® audience, Breyer knew they had indeed created a force in the industry, providing helpful information and unparalleled expertise for what was then considered a niche market.

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