Hair History


For hair care updates, join A’Lelia Bundles on Facebook at Black Hair Historian.



Lots of women write to me asking advice about hair care. Sometimes people are looking for miracles and the “magic bullet” to cure their hair problems. Unfortunately there are no magic potions or secret formulas.

As my friend, Leila Noelliste of Black Girl with Long Hair ( says, “You have to spend time getting to know your hair.” She is so right! Many sisters have spent most of their lives alienated from their hair and doing everything to alter it. As a result they’ve never learned how to care for their natural hair or discover the array of possible styles. Even if you choose to perm or straighten your hair–which is fine with me, if that’s your choice–you might find that exploring and experimenting with your hair without straighteners can be an affirming exercise.

I’m a writer and not a hair care professional–but I grew up in a household with parents who both were hair care industry executives and I’ve spent a lot of time studying the history of the black women and hair–so I have absorbed some knowledge along the way. I know enough to know that no one product can overcome all the other things you may be doing to abuse and damage your hair. What you eat and drink, whether you exercise and how much stress you have in your life all affect the health of your hair and scalp.

Just as Madam Walker focused on the importance of healthy, well-groomed hair, so do I. Conditioning, mosturizing and cleansing are the keys to beautiful hair whether you choose a style that is natural or permed. There are hundreds of great products available. Like most women I have some tried and true products, but I stay open to all the new innovations and product lines. I love to see modern day success stories like Lisa Price of Carole’s Daughter, Nadine Thompson of Soul Purpose, and Miko and Titi Branch of Miss Jessie’s Originals. In the spirit of Madam Walker, they are taking what she helped start to an entirely new level and answering the needs of 21st century women. I urge you to choose your hair care professional as carefully as you would choose your physician and to think about where you are spending your money.

With the release of Chris Rock’s movie, “Good Hair,” the spotlight has been focused on how black women care for and feel about our hair. Bloggers–especially black women bloggers–have had a lot to say about the movie, and we urge you to google the topic to learn more.

Every day I come across a new blog or website or article with tips for healthier hair. Below are a few that I have found especially interesting (and I’ll be adding more as I discover them).
Oh, and by the way, Madam Walker DID NOT invent the perm, the hot comb or the straightening comb. Click here to read Linda Jones’s article about that myth and click here to read about Francois Marcel Grateau, a Frenchman who developed curling irons and other heated hair care implements in 1872 when Madam Walker was only five years old.

If you are experiencing severe hair loss or scalp problems, I urge you to speak with your physician and to make an appointment with a dermatologist who specializes in scalp ailments that affect black women. One of the best articles I’ve ever read on hair loss appeared in the New York Times on January 15, 2010.
“When Hair Loss Strikes, a Doctor is a Girl’s Best Friend”

Other Interesting Blogs and Articles:
Chescaleigh’s YouTube Channel and  I love these sites!

NaturalSelectionBlog: Interesting and timely updates on hair care and the hair care industry

Video: Sunkissed Girlz Interviews A’Lelia February 19, 2010

February 8, 2011: A’Lelia talks about the Walker family and hair Walker Descendant Keeps Legacy Alive
February 10, 2010

Texture Playground: Fleurzty Interviews A’Lelia about Walker and Hair
Part I: January 1, 2010
Part II: January 2, 2010

  Black Girl with Long Hair
Part I: BGLH’s Leila Noelliste Interviews A’Lelia

Part II: BGLH’s Leila Noelliste Interviews A’Lelia

Kimmay’s Washing and De-tangling Routine

HappyGirlHair: Hair Care for Little Girls

A’Lelia Talks about Hair
“Tell Me More’s” Michel Martin Interviews A’Lelia, March 27, 2009

DC Commission for Women January 27, 2010 Interview with Natalie Cofield

Smithsonian Institution’s Lemelson Center Interviews A’Lelia Feb 13, 2009
Free iTunes download/See Podcasts#10 and #11 “Madam Walker” with Will Eastman

Grant ScissorsBoy’s article about A’Lelia’s book “Trip in Time”

University of Maryland Black Hair Panel March 23, 2010


A’Lelia on Natural Hair:

Other voices on Natural Hair Natural Hair Photos

Chris-Tia Donaldson on Natural Hair

Chris-Tia’s website: Thank God I’m Natural

LifelinesProverbs/Yolanda McCalla Sobers Blog Natural vs. Permed Debate




       CEO TV Interview (July 2011)


See A’Lelia Bundles’s brief appearance!

What others are saying about “Good Hair”
Rebecca Fortune’s Blog compares “My Nappy Roots” and “Good Hair”

Black Enterprise “Our World” Interview with Chris Rock and Nia Long

   A’Lelia’s thoughts on “Good Hair”

A’Lelia and “Good Hair” in Heart and Soul

INC Magazine



Click here for Black Hair History Timeline
Essence Magazine’s Black Hair History

Harvard Working Knowledge Review of Geoffrey Jones’s
Beauty Imagined

Library of Congress Sources on Hair Care History 2010

Lisa Price’s Carol’s Daughter

Nadine Thompson’s Soul Purpose

Yanique Redwood’s Sunkissed Girlz Hair Page

Titi and Miko Branch’s Miss Jessie’s Original

Linda Jones’s Nappy Hair Affair

The Beauty Pot/London-based hair care for women of color
Helpful Hints: “10 Things to Avoid Putting on Your Hair”

Turning Heads Salon and Day Spa/Harlem

Cornrows & Company/Washington, DC

 Sisterlocks/Dr. JoAnne Cornwell

Barry Fletcher/ Washington, DC

Dr. Linda Amerson’s Hair and Scalp Clinic

International Hair Care for Women of Color                                                                                                                                                     

More articles and blogs about Madam Walker
Dr. David’s Blog 2/26/08

Learn more about the Madam Walker Theatre Center, a National Historic Landmark and former home of the Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company:

Click here to learn more about how Madam Walker founded her company and developed Walker hair care products.


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