A definitive timeline of the Black hair journey: 8 historic moments to remember
Written by Sagal Mohammed
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From the birth of ‘good hair vs. bad hair’ in the s through to Michelle Obama wearing her hair natural, here are eight standout moments in Black hair history to remember.
There’s a reason why hair is such an integral part of Black history and heritage. Though complex, the evolution of afro hair and its impact on society through time tells a story within itself, a story that speaks volumes about the Black experience and identity.
Established in the early years of African civilisation, many famous styles like braids, twists and dreadlocks were used to symbolise a person’s tribe, social status and family background. Though it’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment of creation, they were celebrated and worn with pride on both men and women for centuries, becoming the ultimate way to identify someone upon first glance.
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It wasn’t until the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade in the 15th century – which stripped the continent of its valuables, its rich cultures and enslaved its people – that afro hair, from kinks and coils to curly textures, as well as Black features and the Black body were ridiculed, dehumanized and ‘othered’ in comparison to European beauty standards. Much like many other aspects of the Black experience, the impact of the violent white gaze was significant to the Black hair journey. However, much has been done by Black communities around the world to not only reclaim and champion traditional afro hair styles and create many new ones along the way, but also influence the world with the power of Black hair styles whilst at it.
Here are just a few of the many historic moments within the journey of Black hair in all its beautiful forms…
s: The birth of ‘Good Hair’ vs. ‘Bad Hair’
As the slave trade began and millions of African slaves were sold to help colonise America, Black hair was dehumanised and described as ‘wool’ by white people. According to several readings, this is when the term ‘good hair’ was first established, creating a damaging narrative that would shape the way Black hair was viewed for centuries to come. ‘Good hair’ was associated with caucasian textures: softer, smoother, lighter, longer. Meanwhile Black hair textures were considered ‘bad’.
s: The ‘Hot Comb’ was created
Despite slavery ‘officially’ coming to an end in the United States in following the birth of the 13th Amendment in America, stigmas surrounding Black people and their hair continued to grow. So much so that the first ‘hot comb’, or electric straightening comb as we’d call it today, was invented by French hair stylist Francois Marcel Grateau in
At the time, it was simply a heated metal comb that was designed to straighten and smooth kinky and coarse afro hair textures, starting from the roots upwards. While many women, including white women, used hot combs to straighten their hair for various reasons, the tool gave Black women the chance to have the so-called ‘good hair’ they were taught they didn’t have. Straight hair was not only deemed more attractive, but it elevated a woman’s personal, social and economic status and could even result in more opportunities for success.
s: The Annie Malone and Madame CJ Walker era
Madam CJ Walker is not only a historic figure for her contribution to Black hair care, but for being the first American woman to become a self-made millionaire. However, as anyone who has watched Netflix’s TV adaptation of her life, starring Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer will know, Walker’s road to success was controversial.
She started off working for a fellow African American woman named Annie Turnbo Malone, who was the original pioneer of the hair product Walker would go on to receive fame and fortune from. Malone, who was born and raised in Metropolis, Illinois, spent years witnessing the detrimental impact of slave labour, weather conditions and the lack of hair care products for afro textures had on Black women in the south. Many suffered with scalp conditions such as heavy dandruff and alopecia, among other diseases as a result, which inspired Malone to create an afro hair care range to help Black women improve their grooming habits to achieve healthier hair. Malone launched a successful hair care range after experimenting with different chemicals and ultimately created a formula for her most famous product, the ‘Hair Grower’, a product that was designed to improve scalp health and promote hair growth.
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In the s, Malone moved from Illinois to Missouri where she founded the Poro College – a cosmetics school that became a training hub for nurturing and styling Black hair. Malone hired a group of women across the US as her ‘Poro agents’ who were all taught to not only sell her products, but let in on her special methods for nourishing the scalp. Madam CJ Walker was one of the first Poro agents, and after Malone’s business went into decline, she decided to launch her own hair care range in According to Walker’s biography, On Her Own: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker, she came up with the formula for her own hair grower through a dream. In , she moved from Denver, Colorado (where she had relocated from St. Louis a few years prior) to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she opened a factory and hair school named Leila College. Her beauty empire grew rapidly, revolutionising the press and curl hairstyle and in , she was recognised as American’s first female self-made millionaire in The Guinness Book of World Records.
Garret A. Morgan creates the relaxer
While Madam CJ Walker revolutionised Black hair care with many of her products, Garrett A. Morgan, an African American sewing machine repairman from Kentucky, is credited for creating the first chemical relaxer – a hair treatment that permanently straightens afro hair. His invention came in , inspired by a method used to reduce needle friction on wool. It was then developed further by George E. Johnson in , who aimed the product at men before creating a version for women. It was a huge success, with the relaxer constantly in demand.
Late s: The impact of the Black Power Movement
The Civil Rights movements sparked a new lease of hope and unity among African Americans as they fought for social justice in America from the mids to the s. However, after a decade of protesting and demanding equal rights under the law, many young Black men and women grew frustrated with the lack of results by the late s, with many believing that the protests failed to address not only the poverty, but also the powerlessness that generations of systemic discrimination and racism had imposed on African Americans.
As an alternative, they launched the Black Power Movement. Inspired by the teachings of Malcom X, whose ideals grew even more popular following his assassination in , the Black Power Movement was rooted in racial pride, autonomy and self-determination. It brought a new era in the fight for social justice as it encouraged Black people to reclaim their erased heritage and celebrate their identity and beauty whilst focusing on building their own Black economy, social and political power. Many members of movement wore their natural hair out in an afro, embracing their natural textures for the first time. The hairstyle quickly became known as a symbol of Black power and defiance with activists like Angela Davis, Nina Simone, and Nikki Giovanni at the forefront, wearing it as a radical statement of pride.
s: Black hair is celebrated in mainstream media for the first time
In , Black model and Actress Cicely Tyson (who some of us will know recognise as Annalise’s mother in Viola Davis’ hit ABC drama How To Get Away With Murder) wore cornrows on a magazine cover, as well on US TV series East Side/West Side. It was a huge cultural moment as it marked the start of celebrating Black beauty and traditional African hairstyles in the mainstream. This was emphasised on a wider scale two years later when model Beverly Johnson became the first Black woman to appear on the cover of Vogue in
The late ‘70s also brought about a new Black hair trend, the jheri curl – a style promoting curly hair with defined ringlets rather than kinks. It created a new way for both Black men and women to style their hair, making a huge mark on pop culture with many celebrities and prominent figures making the jheri curl their signature look. Its popularity continued well into the ‘80s with Michael Jackson sporting jheri curls on the cover of his album Thriller and Eddie Murphy wearing the style in cult movie, Coming to America.
s: The rise of Black pop culture influences beauty standards
The 90s were a golden era for Black culture with the launch of many iconic sitcoms like The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Martin, Moesha and Sister Sister to name a few. The shows made waves in not only the representation of Black people, but created positive narratives around Black families, whilst celebrating their beauty both internally and externally. Black women on the shows would confidently wear a variety of hairstyles, from cornrows, braids and twists, to perms and wigs. They made Black hair ‘cool’ to their mainstream audience whilst inspiring young Black women to wear their hair with pride.
Long box braids became the trendiest hairstyle after Janet Jackson wore them in her movie, Poetic Justice. Meanwhile, the music industry was another force for change thanks to the growing Hip Hop scene. In the late 90s, Lauryn Hill graced the cover of Time magazine in dreadlocks and was voted one of People magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People in
s: Michelle Obama and the revival of embracing natural hair
After two decades of Black women sporting a multitude of hairstyles and the growth of wigs, weaves, keratin treatments and other chemical hair procedures, a new natural hair movement is revived in with Michelle Obama at the helm. The former First Lady wore her hair straight for the eight years she was in office, but a few months after leaving the White House in January , Michelle was spotted wearing her natural hair out in public for the first time. The moment sparked a wider conversation about the ongoing stigmas around Black hair not only in the US but the UK, and reaffirmed previous comments by author Chimamanda Ngzoi Adichie, who had explained to Channel 4 News in , that the First lady wearing her natural hair during her husband Barack Obama’s election would have cost him the presidency.
Many were inspired by Michelle, expressing the importance of seeing a high profile Black figure wearing their hair naturally. Soon after, a worldwide #naturalhair journey trend started on social media with many women making the decision to embrace their natural hair textures and make a habit of wearing their hair in its natural state, unapologetically. Black British influencers like Laila Amakye Mensah (known as @neffyfrofro), who documented her natural hair journey whilst providing advice and product recommendation for Afro hair textures on YouTube and Instagram, paved the way for many more to come.
Late s - The launch of World Afro Day in the UK
As celebrities and Black influencers in both the US and the UK continued to champion natural hair, Black Brit Michelle De Leon created World Afro Day in - an annual celebration of afro hair. Described as a “global day of change, celebration and education of afro hair,” the initiative was endorsed by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human rights with many mainstream outlets supporting the annual day.
This new era also welcomed a whole host of Black hair products designed to nourish, nurture and style afro hair textures, with hair care brands like Cantu and Shea Moisture finally being stocked in major retailers like Boots and Superdrug. Plenty of other independent and sustainable Black hair care brands then launched including Afrocenchix, Charlotte Mensah, BOUCLÈME and Dizziak among others.
3 Cheap Old School Products That Can Help Create Healthy Natural Hair
Blue Magic. Scurl. Queen Helene. Cholesterol. Do these names ring a bell? I know for me these were common products (along with Pink Lotion) that were used on my hair as a child, and you know what? My hair thrived!
For most of us, once we were exposed to the healthy hair care world, most of the products that we used on our hair way back when are huge no no’s now.
For most ladies, “natural” products or products without mineral oil* are the way to go for healthy hair care, and grease and anything looking remotely like Jherri Curl Juice is considered harmful.
Well guys, I’m here to tell you that this is not always the truth. While we agree that we can probably do without parabens and toxic ingredients, with some products the problem is how they are used rather than what is in them. In this post, we attempt to crush the myths by sharing with you three inexpensive “old school” hair products that can aid in creating healthier hair.
1. Petroleum Based Grease (Blue Magic, Dax, Dixie Peach, etc.)
I had to start off with what seems to be the biggest no-no’s in the healthy hair world: grease! Now, I’m not talking about Shea butter* creams or beeswax* pomades – I am talking about good ole’ petroleum laden hair grease.
Although many people may think that grease is a bad product for out hair – period – you can find ways to incorporate it in your hair care regimen, taking advantage of some of the good things it has to offer.
How is grease beneficial in creating healthy hair?
Grease is the ultimate sealant when it comes to holding in moisture. The reason why most of us think grease is or was not beneficial was because when most of us used grease, it was applied to dry hair or to the scalp in an effort to hydrate and not to seal. This left many of us with dry, breaking hair and bad memories of grease spots.
Let me tell y’all it can be the total opposite when you apply it to your strands correctly. Here’s how: To have a positive experience with grease, it is a good idea to apply a hydrating leave-in or a good hair spritz and THEN apply the grease over all that goodness. Girl let me tell you….you will have moisturized hair for days. Just try it once if you are leery. Since most greases cost between $ , you will not be losing much in terms of investment.
On the flip side of the coin, if your hair is fine or tends to be low in density, then you may only want to apply a dab of grease to each section. It’s very easy to over apply grease. Additionally, you will have to use a clarifying shampoo* more often to get rid of buildup when you use alot of grease on your strands. We would suggest using small amounts and focus on your ends.
Afro Sheen and The Representation of Black Hair in s Advertising
The s represented a new era which put the progress of Black people in America into question. Coming off the heels of the Voting Rights Act, Civil Rights Act, and Fair Housing Act in the s, Black Americans began to make strides personally, professionally, and politically. With this gained ground came a newfound pride in Blackness and desire to reconnect to African roots, which led to the “Black is Beautiful” and “I’m Black and I’m proud” campaigns (Mitchell). In addition, fashion and hair was used to express that Black pride. Natural hair, especially big, picked-out afros, became a political statement that illustrated one rejected European beauty standards. This inevitably led to an influx of natural hair care products, and the first advertisement for said products launched in The one company that remained ahead of this trend throughout the s and ‘70s was Afro Sheen, created by Johnson Products. The advertisements for Afro Sheen products alone have gone down in history as the most memorable advertisements by, for and about Black people.
Johnson Products was founded in by married couple George and Joan Johnson in Chicago. In an obituary for Joan Johnson, who passed away in , The Undefeated wrote “They created, packaged, and distributed hair care products from their basement before opening a production plant on the South Side in the mids that employed around people at its height. According to Black Enterprise magazine, the company controlled roughly a third of the Black hair care market by the late s.”
To add context to the playing field the Johnsons were stepping into, chapter seven of Racism, Sexism, and the Media on marketing and advertising describes the industry as thriving on mainstream narratives about people of color that were largely, if not totally, determined by white people. “These portrayals in the media largely sharpened the focus of the lens through which many in the White majority saw non-Whites. Advertisers used familiar racial images and symbols that triggered stereotypes in the minds of the readers, viewers, and listeners to manufacture images of people of color featured in advertising that paralleled and reinforced their entertainment and news images” (Wilson et al. Chapter 7).
Black people were categorized as what the textbook calls “the friendly servants.” Notable characters included Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben. These characterizations did not promote an aspirational image for Black people fighting for racial equality. These conditions - specifically motivated by negative stereotypes during the Civil Rights era in advertising - inspired illustrator and ad salesman Vince Cullers to start his own agency, Vince Cullers Group, becoming the first full-service advertising agency owned by a Black American (WCIA.com). Vince Cullers Group solely created Afro Sheen’s ads in the s and s (Black Enterprise ).
One advertisement for the Afro Sheen Blowout Kit, depicted Black people in the workplace wearing their natural hair. Juxtaposed with he first-ever hair discrimination lawsuit taking place in , this advertisement represented an image of Black professionalism and, more importantly, Black pride while navigating corporate America that was beginning to be normalized. JSTOR Daily reported, “In the case of Jenkins v. Blue Cross Mutual Hospital Insurance, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld a race discrimination lawsuit against an employer for bias against afros. The appeals court agreed that workers were entitled to wear afros under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act” (Griffin).
Afro Sheen ads also added a cultural flare with callbacks to African history and culture, including to the Queen of Sheba - a prominent figure in the Bible as well as in Ethiopian, Islamic, and Jewish culture - in an ad targeted to Black women (Stewart). They also used Swahili words and phrases in their print ads and depicted models in ways that promoted love and belonging among community, romantic relationships and family. Some of these include an ad targeted towards mothers that featured a mother and daughter with the phrase, “Kama mama, kama binti,” which in Swahili means “like mother, like daughter.” Another print ad depicted a Black couple with the Swahili phrase “Upendo ni pamoja” or “Love is together.”
As previously mentioned, Afro Sheen dominated the Black hair care market throughout the s. Once the afro was no longer a political statement - being replaced with styles from perms and relaxers - the style faded in popularity and Afro Sheen as a brand halted entirely by the s, coming back in the s. This timeline also coincided with the parent company, Johnson Products, being sold to Ixam Corporation - which was not Black owned but marketed mostly skincare products to Black people - in , sold a few more times to other white-owned companies; and ultimately bought back by Black investors by to be reestablished as a Black-owned company for the Black community (Genzlinger).
Genzlinger, Neil. “Joan Johnson, Whose Company Broke a Racial Barrier, Dies at ” The New York Times, 10 Sept. , www.nytimes.com//09/10/business/joan-johnson.html.
“George & Joan Johnson.” EveryDayBlackHistory, Medium, 21 Feb. , medium.com/@everydayblackhistory/george-joan-johnson-1eb
Griffin, Chanté. “How Natural Black Hair at Work Became a Civil Rights Issue.” JSTOR Daily, 3 July , daily.jstor.org/how-natural-black-hair-at-work-became-a-civil-rights-issue/.
Mitchell, Sheeri. “The Afro-Americans of the s: Black History from the Pages of EBONY.” EBONY, 4 Feb. , www.ebony.com/life/bhm-ebony-afro-americanss/17/.
“The New Black Cosmetics Magnate.” Black Enterprise, June , pp. 71–
The Official Campaign of the CROWN Act, www.thecrownact.com/.
O'Neal, Lonnae. “Hair Care Pioneer Joan Johnson Made 'Ultra Sheen, Afro Sheen and Ultra Sheen Cosmetics' a Feature of Black Identity.” The Undefeated, 10 Sept. , theundefeated.com/features/hair-care-pioneer-joan-johnson-made-ultra-sheen-afro-sheen-and-ultra-sheen-cosmetics-a-feature-of-black-identity/.
“Our Legacy.” Afro Sheen™, www.afrosheen.com/our-legacy.
Stewart, Stanley. “In Search of the Real Queen of Sheba.” Discover Ethiopia's Sacred Sites on a Search for the Real Queen of Sheba, 11 Nov. , www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/africa/ethiopia/mysterious-queen-sheba-legend-church-archaeology/?awc=__ff31bbc6beaff4faa.
Utroske, Deanna. “Afro Sheen: the Return of an Iconic Hair Care and Styling Brand.” Cosmetics Design, 1 June , www.cosmeticsdesign.com/Article//01/21/Afro-Sheen-the-return-of-an-iconic-hair-care-styling-brand.
“Vince Cullers Group: First Black Owned Advertising Agency.” WCIA.com, WCIA.com, 27 Feb. , www.wcia.com/morning-show-features/morning-show/vince-cullers-group-first-black-owned-advertising-agency/.
Walker, Susannah. “Black Is Profitable: The Commodification of the Afro, –” Enterprise & Society (): – Web. https://exhibits.library.duke.edu/exhibits/show/-black-is-beautiful-/the-afrohttps://exhibits.library.duke.edu/exhibits/show/-black-is-beautiful-/the-afro
Wilson, Clint C., et al. Racism, Sexism, and the Media: Multicultural Issues into the New Communications Age. SAGE,
Multicultural Media Hist.Kesi Felton
10 Black Hair-Care Products Every Black Person Has Ever Used
Before the days of our enlightened knowledge about black hair, we thought we needed two things to take care of our strands—perms and grease. Grease seemed to be a catchall phrase for anything that wasn’t shampoo or oil. Brands liked to call them hairdressing or conditioner, but we don’t remember them being called anything but grease in our house.
Black hair is magical, and beautiful and labor intensive—we scooped up anything that promised to help with the process of keeping it looking good. We may not agree on everything, but we can all unite under this list of products that definitely touched our scalps (or the scalp of someone we love) at some point in our lives.
Shayna Watson is a freelance style and beauty writer who can be heard saying “Natural hair is a lifestyle” at least once a day. A Pittsburgh native, she currently lives in a shoe-box apartment in Brooklyn, N.Y.—which is fitting, since she really loves shoes. You can check out her personal style musings on A Nu Creature and follow her on Instagram.
1. Sta-Sof-Fro Hair & Scalp Spray
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This was the go-to comb-out product from SoftSheen-Carson for ’fros large and small back in the day. Apparently, it’s still pretty popular since most major retailers have it in stock. Between the spray for extra-dry strands and the rub-on conditioner cream, there was really no excuse for your Afro to look dusty.
2. Liv Creme Hairdressing and Conditioner
We know we weren’t the only ones sent out of the house with streaks of white in our twisted ponytails from the large amounts of Liv slapped on in the mornings. We can still hear our mom rebutting our whining with the promise that the sun would melt it, which never came true until way after recess. Almost the whole school day, we were looking like Penelope Pussycat while squinting from grease in our eyes and shiny foreheads as the sun slid the cream right down our faces. Thanks, Mom.
3. Dax Pomade
Made with vegetable oils, bergamot, olive oil, castor oil and lanolin (a wax secreted from the glands of wool-bearing animals; makes sense why we would think to use it on our magical manes), Dax pomade was not playing around when it came to slicking down our strands and whipping those edges into place. They also made a petroleum-based wave pomade that we used to steal from our brother’s room during that period when he was obsessed with getting waves.
4. Blue Magic Conditioner
Between this blue anti-breakage formula, the green bergamot hair-and-scalp conditioner, and the clear coconut oil formula, we don’t think we ever stepped outside without some version of Blue Magic on our hair. And even though the green version had us smelling like a tea bag, we were sure our hair would be a dry, broken mess without it. We have since learned that it doesn’t take so much product to hydrate our hair, but the memories of this product will stick with us.
5. Motions Shampoo
Motions transports us right back to the hair salon. From the relaxer to the wash and shampoo, to the holding foam used for our wraps, to the fine oil-sheen spray, Motions was with us every single step of the way. Its products were known for feeling less oily than others while still providing a moisturized feel to our hair. We can’t remember if they did all of that, but we do remember the scent that made the whole salon smell like fruity body spray while we spent hours under the dryer.
6. Luster’s Pink Oil Moisturizer Hair Lotion
Pink lotion was everything to black hair when we were growing up. When your hair felt dry, you just knew that Luster’s Pink lotion would whip it right back into shape. You didn’t even have to ask if your friends had any when staying over at their house—if they were black and had hair, they were using Luster’s.
7. Dudley’s Scalp Special
We always loved that this was called “scalp special”—made us feel like we were using the top shelf of greases. When we saw this white-and-blue plastic jar come out, we knew the hot comb was not far behind. Dudley’s was put on our strands right after the blow dry so the mix of scent and hair smoke would be stuck in our nostrils all night. Man, the things we went through for this hair.
8. Razac Perfect for Perms Finishing Crème
We are surprised that we have any hair left with all the products we slapped on back in the day. After the whole perm, rinse, condition, rinse, blow-dry process, we would reach for Razac (I mean, it says it’s perfect for perms) and slather that on our freshly washed hair to start the product fortress that our follicles were used to. We really were a sucker for these hairdressings that promised to be lightweight and make our perms last. That was the dream.
9. Isoplus Oil Sheen Spray
Oil-sheen sprays were aplenty in our product cabinets. Ors Olive Oil, Motions, Dudley’s—everyone made a version of this aerosol can with slick spray oil on the inside. Isoplus called this one a “hair doctor in a can,” which is hilarious considering that we aren’t quite sure what hair health benefit it actually had. We used it on top of all the other products we used, so it was less about real moisturizing and more about getting that fresh oily shine that we all wanted. Apparently it wasn’t a good hair day until we could see the glimmer of oil off our tresses.
Royal Crown Hair Dressing
We used a lot of pomades, y'all. Royal Crown Hair Dressing pomade promised to soothe split ends, included a blend of ingredients you loved and made a special formula exclusively for men. Unless you were a Murray’s family, you had (and probably still have) a few canisters of this in your bathrooms. Bust out that wooden brush, slather on some Royal Crown and smooth down those edges.
Black hair products 70s
A look back at 4 decades of black hair and beauty ads
Vintage beauty ads are telling: You can learn a lot about past fashion and hair trends, and track the shift beauty standards.
In , Ebony was founded by John H. Johnson as the go-to lifestyle magazine for black people, and it remains an important resource and asset for black culture. Before other mainstream magazines included people of color in their featured advertisements, ads for brands like Gillette, Lucky Strike, Sears, Revlon, and Avon were featured exclusively in Ebony—with black models. The publication was also where black people could find ads for products made specifically for them, from hair products like Ultra Sheen to makeup lines like Fashion Fair.
We flipped through vintage Ebony magazines from four decades (, , , , and ) and took note of the hair through the years (voluminous curls, big Afros, clip-on wigs and Jheri curls) and the shift from promoting bleaching creams and straight hair to representing a host of skin tones and hair textures.
(the dawn of the Fifties)
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Published four years after Ebony's first issue, and this June cover features Joe Louis and his family four months after he retired as an undefeated heavyweight boxer. The late 40s, style- and beauty-wise, were all about practical, ladylike glamour: Floral cinched-waist full skirts and tightly pinned-back hair. The beauty ads in this issue feature fair-skinned black models with a heavy focus on wigs, silky curls and waves in "Page Boy," "Glamourous Bobs," and "Feather Curls" styles. Skin treatments include bleaching cream advertisements from companies like Black & White Bleaching Cream and Nadinola.
Diahann Carroll graced the cover of the July issue of Ebony, the same year she became the first black actress to a Tony award for her performance in the musical "No Strings." The early s carried over many of the hair and fashion trends from the '50s: A heavy presence of wigs—as well as chemically straightening relaxers, creams and greases that supposedly made hair (for both men and women) as soft and straight as a wig. In this issue of Ebony, the beauty advertising was from brands like Super Groom, Madame CJ Walker's Glossine, Dixie Peach, Ultra Sheen, and Lustrasilk—all claiming to make your hair straight and smooth.
The content of the August issue of Ebony shone a spotlight on "The Black Child," with everything from teaching your kids about sex to saving for college. The August issue focused on "The Black Woman," with stories on her relationship with the black man and profiles of successful black women in various industries. There was a shift in beauty standards: Instead of trying to fit in with mainstream hair and fashion trends, the look was more about pride and versatility. No longer was just one hairstyle or one skin-tone a representation of black beauty. In the ads in both of these issues, there's a huge focus on Afros and how to manage them—from hot picks and blow-out combs to shampoos and conditioners. There were still ads for relaxers and wigs, but they weren't the only options offered, as in previous decades. We also saw a lot more ads for women's makeup (Maybelline and Fashion Fair) and men's grooming (Gillette).
The February issue of Ebony featured Stephanie Mills—the Grammy-winning R&B singer who played the first Dorothy in the Broadway musical The Wiz—at the height of her career and right before she released her 6th album, Tantalizingly Hot. The style and beauty of the early '80s (before hip hop influenced everything) involved brighter colors, black supermodels (Grace and Beverly Johnson) and new, beloved hair trend: The Jheri curl. A lot of the beauty ads in this issue of Ebony were featured both men and women, using the same product to obtain similar hairstyles.
It's worth noting that there were lots of grooming ads specifically tailored for black men in the '60s, '70s, and '80s—something you don't see much of today. And while there were years in which we felt it was important to change our hair and skin, another thing is certain: Black people are trailblazers when it comes to creating a style—and making an existing trend better. Looking at decades of beauty advertisements is to look at the complexities of blackness on display.
Tahirah Hairston is a style writer from Detroit who likes Susan Miller, Rihanna's friend's Instagram accounts, ramen and ugly-but cute shoes.
|Hair product ad from the 70"s|
New Black Hair Products
New black hair productsare popping up everyday, and I laugh at some of our 'so-called hair product junkies". It will take there drive and dissatisfaction to keep everyone getting paid! Companies like Pantene's "Relaxed and Natural"are cashing in the the 'curl pattern specific' marketing and there many 'ethnic' hair lines cropping up as these big companies do buy-outs with our mom-and-pop operations. I remember the ole stuff like VO5 hot oil treatments, Infusium Leave in Treatment, Ultra Sheen Hair Food
The best moisturizers for Black Hair
The best moisturizer were the ones for jerri curlsWorld of Curls oil moisturizer was my favorite. It wasn't really a guessing game back then, the did what they claimed to do, wash, condition, easy comb-out.
Current products are making claims of rapid hair growth, altering curl patterns without chemicals, adding human-like proteins to the hair etc. Its no wonder we are all blinded by the celebrity endorsements, classy advertising and innovative packaging.
***I wish we could go back to when I was a kid, when shampoos didn't dry outthe hair, when a little hair pomade and 2 scrunchies where all you needed to style your hair.
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Len, how are you. Okay, - the girl stood up and looked at me in surprise. We were left to remove the last one and the stage.