October marks Black History Month in the UK and as a Black Woman-owned company, we want to celebrate through a 4-part blog series exploring topics on black hair. Kicking it off with this post on 5 Black women inventors who changed the world with their incredible haircare inventions. Let's get into it.
Image | Christina Jenkins
If at some point in your life you've enjoyed wearing a weave, you've got Christina Jenkins to thank for that. Whilst working at a wig-making company and having customers regularly experience their wigs falling off, Christina set out to find a more secure way to attach hair extensions and landed on the art of first braiding the natural hair into cornrows as a foundation and then sewing wefts of hair onto them.
By perfecting her technique, patenting it in 1951 and travelling worldwide to teach it to others, Christina changed the hair game forever and even to this day, weaves are still a popular style for protection, to add length, different colour, volume or all of the above to natural hair!
Although not the one to invent the hairbrush, Lyda Newman's improved version of the classic hair tool signalled a new era for it. Not only was her new design the first that opted for evenly spaced out synthetic bristles as opposed to animal hair but it also included slots in the brush that allowed for hair impurities to pass through and into a small chamber which could be emptied for easy cleaning.
Image | Lyda Newman Hairbrush Design
Madam C.J. Walker
Image | Madam C.J. Walker via Biography
Next on our list of Black women inventors is Madam CJ Walker. Like many other entrepreneurs, Madam CJ Walker (Born Sarah Breedlove) came up with the product that would garner her widespread success through problems she experienced first hand. Having suffered from a scalp disorder that resulted in hair loss, Ms Walker worked hard to create the 'Walker System'; a thorough hair care regimen focused around handmade products that promote hair health.
Thanks to hard work and care for her products and customers, she managed to find success and became most known for her 'Wonderful Hair Grower' she sold directly to her customers. This led her to become the first Black woman millionaire in America. Talk about self-made! If you're interested in learning more about this pioneering mogul, give Netflix's miniseries based around Madam C.J. Walker's life a watch.
Image | Newspaper Ad for Madam C.J. Walker's Preparations via Biography
Image | Instagram
Gwen Jimmere created her haircare brand Naturalicious Beauty as a way to help promote hair health and help people embrace their natural coils, kinks and curls. Through her Moroccan Rhassoul 5-In-1 Clay Treatment, Gwen made history by becoming the first black woman to own a patent for a natural hair product.
Although getting her patent wasn't an easy process, Gwen preserved and has not only made history but inspired many other Black inventors and entrepreneurs to own the beauty products they created for people like them.
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Image | HypeHair
Another history-maker when it comes to patents, Ceata Lash is the first Black Woman to hold two patents for natural hair accessories. Like the other inventors we've mentioned in this post, Ceata's idea for her PuffCuff® Hair Clamp came from personal frustrations with hair accessories.
With most readily available products catered for straight hair textures, they just didn't work for Ceata so she set out to create her own and launched the PuffCuff specifically designed for thick and textured hair in 2013 and gained her two patents in 2017.
Image | Aasiyah Abdulsalam
As much as she loved wigs, when Aasiyah Abdulsalam found herself struggling with traction alopecia due to traditional wig attachment methods like clips, combs and difficult velvet bands, she sought a solution. What started as a University project ended up resulting in the creation of the Wig Fix.
The Wig Fix is a cleverly designed silicone gripper made to wear comfortably around your head like a headband to keep any wig (yes, full lace fronts included) secure all day long. Now the CEO of her own company, The Renatural, Aasiyah has set out to revolutionise the wig care industry one product at a time all whilst building a community of educated, connected and empowered people in the digital age.
Have you heard of and tried any of these incredible products? Let us know in the comments below!