Can’t discuss Black History on a Hair blog without discussing where most of us started. Relaxers or the dreaded hair straightener that so many of us know all too well.
Hair Relaxers: Hair Discovers Lye
His name was Garrett Augustus Morgan and he was born the seventh of eleven children of former slaves. He is best known for his invention of the automatic traffic signal and gas mask. But it was around 1910 that he stumbled upon what would become his contribution to the hair care products industry and what would pave the way for several other entrepreneurs and manufacturers over the next hundred years.
While working in a sewing machine repair shop attempting to invent a new lubricating liquid for the machine needle, it is widely believed that Morgan wiped his hands on a wool cloth, returned the next day, found the woolly texture of the cloth had “smoothed out”, and set out to find how the liquid chemical had changed the texture as it had. He experimented on an Airedale dog, known for their curly textured hair, and the effect was successfully duplicated.
Morgan then tried his lubricating liquid invention on himself, called it a “hair refining cream”, and thus patented the first chemical hair straightener. He founded a personal grooming products company which included hair dying ointments, curved-tooth pressing combs, shampoo, hair pressing gloss, and the one that started it all: the “G.A. Morgan’s Hair Refiner Cream” (advertised to “Positively Straighten Hair in 15 Minutes”).
SOURCE: The Truth About Hair Relaxers
In recent years we have heard just how dangerous relaxers are and the link between hair straightener chemicals and uterine cancer. Several studies have show the links and how they are disproportionally affecting black women. Scientists followed more than 23,000 pre-menopausal Black American women from 1997 to 2009 and found that the two- to three-times higher rate of fibroids among black women may be linked to chemical exposure through scalp lesions and burns resulting from relaxers.
You can learn more from another post here: BD – New Study Links Relaxers To Fibroids