Then and Now: Hair & Beauty pioneers

Madam C J WalkerOctober in the UK is Black History Month, which is a chance to celebrate and show respect for people like Garrett A. Morgan who invented the traffic light; Charles Drew, whose blood storage system is what we now know as blood banks;  Harriet Tubman, the slave who went on her hands and knees and dug rail roads to release other slaves, and many, many more brave and fantastic people of African descent.

However, I believe it is now time to celebrate the change makers in modern day life.

My “Then” and “Now” series will highlight just how far we’ve come, where we’re going, and what I believe we should be celebrating not just in October, but daily.

Then and Now: Hair and Beauty pioneers

The hair and beauty industry in the UK, USA and Europe turns over millions on an annual basis and today we are blessed to have a multitude of choices of hair products, hair extensions, skincare ranges, and make-up brands.

Many members of the black community have contributed to this and so this month I want to showcase three ladies who have worked hard to make us feel beautiful: Madam C J Walker, Shirley McDonald, and Parees Taylor.

Sarah Breedlove was an emancipated slave who suffered hair loss through stress and unfavourable hair products. Refusing to accept the situation she created her own hair and skincare range under the brand Madam C J Walker.  By 1906 she was selling self created products door to door to colleagues who noticed her hair growth.  By 1910 she had her own factory.  Today she is considered the world’s first female self-made millionaire.

Periodically, we may have some hair disasters, or like Madame C J Walker, we may suffer hair loss. Tricologist Shirley McDonald, owner of The Hair and Scalp Clinic in London, is there to lend a caring hand when catastrophe strikes and has been treating hair for many years, regardless of the sufferer’s origin.

Another fabulous lady is Parees Taylor, Hairdresser of Excellence. Taylor beautifies not only my hair but also the hair of singer Rita Ora, rapper Eve, and tennis pro Serena Williams. Not only does Taylor style the stars, she’s also launched her own incredible range of hair care products. Now that’s what I call fabulous!