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When it comes to women who changed the haircare industry, Madam C.J. Walker is somewhere at the top of the list. And her name and products have recently resurfaced in a major way thanks to a new Netflix original series featuring actress Octavia Spencer.
The series — called “Self-Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker” — explores the incredible business career of Walker, her revolutionizing hair care products and how she became the first self-made African American woman millionaire.
As a Black woman, I’ve long known about Walker because she popularized the use of the hot comb — a tool that is still used in the Black community to this day. In fact, growing up, I can remember seeing her black-and-white picture hanging in salons as a subtle homage to her influence.
Not only was Walker an iconic businesswoman, but she also truly understood the needs of women when it comes to their hair. During her life, Walker struggled with a scalp condition that caused her hair to fall out, and this is what inspired her to create her own line of hair care products.
Walker is widely known for developing The Walker System, which was a healthier way to treat women’s hair during the early 20th century. It involved scalp preparation, lotions and iron combs. Among her competitors, Walker stood out because her products were made to improve the health of Black women’s hair.
In 1911, she incorporated the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company and employed thousands of Black women to help her sell products door to door. Although she died in 1919, her memory and vision live on today.
The Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture is a beauty line inspired by Walker’s legacy. The beauty brand launched last year and has an exclusive line of hair care items at Sephora to honor Walker’s career and unique impact in the hair industry.
Below, you can check out some of those items.
If you enjoyed this story, you might like reading these tips from hairstylists on how to cut your hair at home.
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