- Netflix premiered its new mini-series, Self Made, on March 20.
- The series follows the extraordinary life of Madam C.J. Walker, and how her invention of revolutionary hair care products made her a millionaire.
- Fun fact? Those products are still available today.
Madam C.J. Walker’s remarkable story has been brought to the masses thanks to Netflix’s new mini-series, Self Made, starring Octavia Spencer.
Set against an empowering soundtrack, audiences are now able to learn more about the first female self-made millionaire. And while details about her real-life relationship with beauty pioneer Annie Turnbo Malone and her daughter A’lelia Walker stole the spotlight, the story boils down to what catapulted Walker’s success: her hair care products.
Searching to find an answer to her own hair loss and inspired by the work of Malone— who she worked for as a sales agent in the early 1900s—Walker developed her first product, Madam C. J. Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower, in 1906. Biography.com lists the original ingredients as “precipitated sulfur, copper sulfate, beeswax, petrolatum (like petroleum jelly), coconut oil and a violet extract perfume.”
As we know now, that one salve was the beginning of four other signature products (Temple Salve, Tetter Salve, Vegetable Shampoo, and Glossine), a bustling beauty school, an Indianapolis factory, and 25,000 Walker sales agents—all by the time of her death in 1919. But since the 20th century, those products have evolved.
Do the products still use the same formula?
Since Walker’s initial creations were introduced in the early 1900s, significant advancements and discoveries have been made in the world of Black hair care. So no, the formulas are not the same, including her original “Madam C. J. Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower.”
However, the company’s ethos still aligns with Madam Walker’s initial goal of providing high quality products to promote the health and growth of African American women’s natural hair.
“This launch represents another step forward in our rich history and continues Madam C.J. Walkers’ legacy to help every woman feel confident to embark on the life she desires,” Sundial CEO Richelieu Dennis told Business Enterprise in 2016. “We’ve focused on a re-imagination of the brand as Madam Walker may have done in the 21st century, with products created to focus on all hair textures/needs—whether coily, curly, wavy or straight—and a brand that still represents both community and women’s empowerment.”