African American Female Inventors Who Created The Beauty Products That We Love

Although Black History Month has come to a close, I thought it would be fun to highlight some of our everyday beauty products that were not only invented by African Americans, but women as well! All too often we go through our daily routines without realizing that someone had to invent every single thing we use. Imagine a world without your hair brush, curling iron or maxi pads! Pretty insane, right?

Without the works of women like Theora Stephens or Lyda Newman, we would certainly be lost. It is so important that we learn the history of those who came before us, otherwise we will never be able to improve on our future. Awareness of the efforts that African Americans contributed to not only the United States but to the world at large is necessary in the movement towards erasing prejudices and racism.

I have seen my share of anonymous hate mail on Tumblr asking black bloggers, "What did blacks ever do for this country?" And the answer is, "A whole lot." Not only did African Americans contributed to the beauty products in this slide show, but they have also created cool things like the air conditioner, refrigerator and the elevator — just to name a few. Black History Month is not a historical month exclusive to the black community in America, nor should it be a celebration left only to February — it's a chance for us all to learn something new and respect our past. 

Images: Flikr; Fotolia

Lyda Newman, Synthetic Hairbrush

Variations of hairbrushes have definitely been around for a while, but the synthetic bristle brush we still used today was created by none other than women’s rights activist Lyda Newman. When she wasn’t working in her hair salon, she was serving as an important part of the Suffrage movement in the early 1900s.

Majorie Joyner, Permanent Wave Designer

Though Karl Nessler is the inventor of the hair perm we all got in fourth grade, Majorie Joyner’s wave making machine was used throughout salons to create the same effect without the chemical processing. Plus, she came up with the invention by using pot roast cooking pins and supplies circa 1939.

Mary Kenner, Sanitary Belt

Thank goodness for Ms. Kenner for changing the game of women’s hygiene with her invention the sanitary belt in 1956 (otherwise known as the great grandmother of the maxi pad). Though they weren’t the most comfortable thing in the world, and definitely didn’t have wings, without this invention we wouldn’t be sitting pretty now. And let’s not forget that Mary also invented the tissue paper holders that are in every grandmother’s bathroom across the globe.

Theora Stephens, Curling Iron

Majorie Joyner may have invented the wave machine, but Theora Stephens’ 1980 curling iron made doing hair a lot easier than all those hours in the dressing room chair waiting to get your curls set.

Madam C.J. Walker, Hair Relaxing Method

Madam C.J. Walker is truly the pioneer for women’s beauty. She created several different beauty products under her brand, the most infamous one being the modernization of the women’s relaxer. Though it’s still not the method used today, her method of relaxing women’s curly patterns was a lot less harmful than applying lye soap directly onto the scalp.