IN THE LAB 14.02.2024
Honoring Black Inventors: Pioneers in Hair Care Products and Tools
Honoring Black Inventors: Pioneers in Hair Care Products and Tools

Honoring Black Inventors: Pioneers in Hair Care Products and Tools

At Helix Hair Labs, we’re never not celebrating all things Black, but February is an opportunity to shine our spotlight extra bright, so today we’re celebrating the Black inventors and innovators who’ve made a meaningful impact on our personal fave topic: hair. From groundbreaking inventions in hair care products to innovative tools that have revolutionized styling techniques, we celebrate the ingenuity and creativity of these pioneers who have shaped the way we care for and style our hair. Let’s dig in.

Annie Malone

At only 20 years old, Annie Malone developed a line of haircare products focused on minimizing damage and promoting growth (sounds like we’d be friends). She was also an early Direct Sales pioneer, recruiting and training women all across the US to sell her products. Her hero product, Wonderful Hair Grower, became incredibly popular and later inspired a similar product by Madam C. J. Walker, who actually sold Annie Malone products before developing her own.

Madam C.J. Walker

Often referred to as the "first self-made female millionaire in America," Madam C.J. Walker is renowned for her groundbreaking work in hair care. Born Sarah Breedlove, she developed a line of hair care products specifically designed for Black hair. Her most famous creation was the "Walker System," a hair care regimen that included a shampoo, pomade, and hot comb. Walker's entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to empowering Black women have left an enduring legacy in the beauty industry.

Garrett Morgan

While Garrett Morgan is best known for inventing the traffic signal and the gas mask, he also made significant contributions to hair care. In 1913, Morgan patented the "Hair Straightening Comb," also known as the "Straightening Comb." This innovative tool made it easier for individuals with curly or tight textured hair to straighten their locks, revolutionizing the way people styled their hair.

Lyda Newman

Another prodigy, at only 13 years old, Lyda Newman patented a hairbrush design that is still widely used today. At the time, most brushes used bristles made from animal hair. Newman’s brush used firm, synthetic bristles that worked better with textured hair, and were more cost effective to produce and sell. Newman’s design included ventilation for faster drying and easier cleaning. 

Marjorie Joyner

Marjorie was a Chicago based hairstylist who invented the rod system used in heatless curls, hot rollers, and modern day perms. And… her patent was inspired by pot roast. While cooking her pot roast, Joyner used a system of hot rods inserted into the roast to cook the meat from the inside. She then envisioned a system in which one could wrap their hair around similar rods and let the hair sit on the rod, hands-free. She patented The Permanent Waving Machine in 1928 and went on to co-found the United Beauty School Owners and Teachers Association and also partnered with Eleanor Roosevelt, advising New Deal agencies on their outreach to Black women. 

These are just a few examples of the many Black inventors who have made significant contributions to the world of hair care products and tools. Their ingenuity, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit have not only transformed the beauty industry but have also empowered generations of individuals to embrace and celebrate their natural hair textures. As we honor their legacies, let's continue to recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion in driving innovation and progress in all aspects of society. And let's celebrate it all the time!