The Evolution Of The Black Hair & Beauty Industry

We couldn't let Black History Month end without addressing the evolution of the Black Hair and Beauty industry. So let's start!


Historically, the West's hair and beauty industry have neglected women of colour. However, there have been some trailblazers who've stood against this...


Pre 1960s


In 1898, African American, Anthony Overton created cosmetics for black women. Department stores back then refused to sell black products like Overton's, meaning he sold door to door.


In the 1920s, short flapperesque hairstyles and straight wigs were popular. Straight hair remained fashionable in the 1950s, but black nationalism began to rise.


Josephine Baker 1920s

The late Joan Johnson founded the major black-owned haircare company, Johnson Products, with her husband in 1954.


1960s -1970s


The Black Panthers' afros became a symbol of rebellion against eurocentric beauty standards surrounding the civil rights movement in the 60s. Following this era, stars like Diana Ross wore afros as more of a choice in the 70s.


Diana Ross Afro 1970s


By 1973, Fashion Fair Cosmetics, another black-owned beauty brand, was born.



1980s - 1990s


Afros became less common with the gravitation towards Jheri curls in the 80s. The 90s saw many black women with braids like Janet Jackson's in Poetic Justice.



Girl with Braids


2000- 2010


Communities like YouTube facilitated the rise of the natural hair movement and YouTubers highlighting the lack of diversity in the beauty industry.



2010 - 2019


Relaxer sales dropped significantly and natural hairstyles are more popular than ever! Black hair and beauty brands are now in high street stores and brands like Super Food Lx prioritise natural ingredients. Fenty Beauty offers 50 shades and caused major brands to take note, as darker tones sold out in several stores!



Rihanna Fenty

The evolution of the black hair and beauty industry encourages us to continue this work.

To support black hair and beauty brands, browse here. Happy Black History Month!









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