Celebrate Good Times!

I can’t believe that October is nearly coming to an end… time is certainly flying.

I couldn’t let the month end without writing a post in celebration of Black History Month – which is in October here on the British Isles!

There are so many inspirational people of colour that I could mention – the free newspaper ‘The Metro’,  compiled a very comprehensive list as part of a nationwide poll, however I would like to celebrate some of the men and women who have contributed to the global hair and beauty industry – providing jobs and careers for thousands, enriching the lives of millions of women (and men) and making the founders of the following companies very rich indeed!!

The hair and beauty industry catering to the needs of black men and women is a flourishing sector.  The US black haircare market is worth $185 million, up 4% versus the 2010 sales value,  according to a recent Mintel report,  and although a primarily Caucasian standard of beauty dominated the popular press and the department store counters for much of the last century – the black hair and beauty industry is not a recent phenomenon….

Madam Walker in a photograph ca. 1914 by Addison Scurlock

….Madam C.J. Walker (December 23, 1867 – May 25, 1919), born Sarah Breedlove, was an African-American businesswoman, hair care entrepreneur and philanthropist who made her fortune by developing and marketing a hugely successful line of beauty and hair products for black women under the company she founded in 1910 the Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company.  She is also credited for developing the ‘hot comb’ (the forerunner of your GHDs!). According to the Guinness Book of Records, Madame Walker was the first woman to become a millionaire by her own achievements.

Other Americans who have transformed the tresses of black women worldwide include:

Drs. Joe and Eunice Dudley – Dudley Beauty Corp

Eunice Dudley

Joe Dudley Snr.

Drs. Joe and Eunice Dudley probably didn’t have any idea that their small family owned operation would become one of the longest standing black-owned hair care companies  when they were mixing products in their kitchen 43 years ago.

Story has it that while the husband and wife team were creating formulas, their two oldest children would help package the products at night. The rest, as they say, is history. Their oldest daughter, Ursula Dudley Oglesby, runs the North Carolina based company as President.  The pioneering couple were also featured in Chris Rock’s enlightening and enjoyable 1999 docu-tainment film,  Good Hair.

Fred Luster Sr. – Luster Products Inc.   

Back in the day...

When you think of Luster, you think of Luster’s Pink Oil Moisturizer, the ubiquitous hair lotion that was a staple of  bathroom cabinets in black households throughout the 80’s and 90’s.  The company behind the iconic brand was founded by the late Fred Luster Snr, in 1957 and is now headed by his children Jory Luster, Fred Luster II and Sonja Luster-Munis. The Chicago-based company is one of the largest black owned companies in the African-American hair care market.

Last year  the ‘Pink’ line of  haircare products was launched in  Boots.

Lisa Price – Carol’s Daughter

Lisa Price - Founder and President of Carol's Daughter

Lisa Price is an entrepreneur whose 15 year old venture was started by happenstance. The products were born through an experiment with fragrances and moisturisers, intended to be given as crafted gifts to friends and family. Price named the products after her mother, Carol Price.  As word of these homemade products quickly spread, Price was in business.  In 1999, she opened the doors to Carol’s Daughter’s first brick-and-mortar retail location in her native Brooklyn, NY.  Since then, the brand has matured forcefully with major media endorsements and high profile business partnerships –  investors include Jay-Z , Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith.  Price’s home-grown experiment has grown into one of the most popular ethnic beauty brands in the world.

Loving the Skin you’re In

No ode to the black hair and beauty industry would be complete without a mention of the venerable cosmetics brand Fashion Fair.

38 years young - Fashion Fair Cosmetics

Fashion Fair  was created for women of colour by the late John H. Johnson, publisher of  the famous Ebony and Jet magazines.  As a pioneering businessman, Johnson took the risk that most major cosmetic companies refused to take by entering the untapped market of makeup for women with deeper skin tones.

Johnson ( and his wife Eunice W. Johnson) produced the Capsule Collection, a mail-order package in 1969.   Based on the overwhelming response, it was clear there was a demand for a Black cosmetics line.  

Fine by Name....Fine by Nature

Fashion Fair Cosmetics was born in 1973 .  Ten years after the company opened its first U.S. counter, the company expanded its global reach with the first European initiative in London. In conjunction with the Ebony Fashion Fair, Fashion Fair cosmetics took Great Britain by storm by hosting a signature luncheon highlighting an array of products and extravagant fashions from the show.  The brand recently appointed the (oh so fine!) celebrity make-up artist Sam Fine as its Creative Make-up Director.

Fashion Fair is available at Debenhams, House of Fraser, Morley’s of Brixton  and of course…. Boots.

So, what about us Brits?

It is SO exciting to see a number of  Black British entrepreneurs taking the beauty industry storm – such as:

Michael Boadi – Boadicea The Victorious and Illuminum fragrances

Boadicea The Victorious was launched in 2009 by British  former celebrity hairstylist Michael Boadi.  He previously styled the stars including Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell, before launching his first line of fragrances, Boadicea The Victorious  exclusively at Selfridges.

Stylist turned Perfumer - Micheal Boadi

The Illuminum brand followed in  2007 and shot to fame earlier this year when it was reported that the Duchess of Cambridge (yes Queen Kate!) wore one of his fragrances on her big day!  The Daily Mail and fragrance bloggers soon revealed that the bride wore White Gardenia Petals.  Every one of the 50ml bottles in stock was sold within moments of the news breaking, and an extensive waiting list accumulated  soon after.  Price – a very reasonable £70 for 50 ml

Fit for a Queen

Pat McGrath – Celebrity Make Up Artist

Changing faces – Pat McGrath

Hailing from Northampton,  Pat is one of the top make-up artists in the world.  She currently reigns supreme as the Global Cosmetics Creative Design Director for Procter and Gamble – the conglomerate behind some of the world’s most glamorous and powerful make up brand names- such as Max Factor, CoverGirl, SK-II and the more recently launched Dolce and Gabanna range.  Constantly in demand by top celebrities such as Madonna, Oprah and Scarlett Johansson, Pat McGrath’s editorial work with top photographers like Steven Meisel for Italian and American Vogue continually breaks new ground.

Daniel Vauud – the future of Fragrance creation

St Lucian born Daniel Vaudd is an inspirational young man.  A certified Cosmetic Scientist,  Daniel trained under evaluative perfumer John Ayres, the Director of the UK Fragrance Foundation, who taught him about the clarity and structure of perfume and how to refine his abilities.  Soon, he was asked to become the Global Colour Cosmetic Researcher for a major multinational, developing new and individual colours, as well as fragrances, for their cosmetic ranges.

Fragrance maestro - Daniel Vaudd

A chance encounter with the  world’s sole ‘ Professeur de parfum’, Roja Dove, led Dove to ask Daniel to be his personal researcher on the project ‘Essence of Perfume’ by Roja Dove. With his instincts and talents and his ever-broadening abilities and experience, Daniel soon began receiving requests to craft bespoke perfumes himself.

In 2010 Daniel launched his own line of fragrance – The House of Daniel Vaudd.

Just a few names of the movers and shakers  in the UK beauty industry… I am sure I will  be celebrating their talent for many  years to come.

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What’s the Alternative?

On Sunday evening I attended the 28th annual Alternative Hair Show at the grandiose Royal Albert Hall in London.

This spectacular extravaganza attracts stylists from the four corners of the world – all eager to experience the very best in avant-garde styling.

Tony Rizzo - founder of Alternative Hair

Following the death of his son from a rare form of leukaemia, Tony Rizzo, the  event’s founder (who is described as one of the most influential hairdressers in the world),  launched the show in 1983, to help raise funds for research into this debilitating disease.   At the time, leukaemia was still a poorly understood illness that affected both children and adults, often with tragic consequences.

From humble beginnings, the Alternative Hair Show has grown into a prestigious hairdressing event, hosting leading teams and inspirational hair artists from all over the globe.

To date the  Alternative Hair Show has raised over £8 million and is a key supporter of the charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, the only UK charity solely dedicated to research into blood cancers, including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

The show was a sensory explosion! The lighting,  choreography and styling were AMAZING!!

It was great to see the maestros of British hairdressing take to the stage, including  Anthony Mascalo (of the mighty Toni and Guy empire) and  Anne Veck – an award winning avant-garde stylist.  I was also enamoured by the creations of leading artistic teams from names that are synonymous with the British hairdressing industry – the likes of  Collinge, Sassoon and TIGI.

The turnout for the event was phenomenal – so many stylists came out in full force to support this worthy cause and to celebrate their chosen art – and it was certainly a pleasure to behold!


In the Mix

I am really looking forward to the 3-part BBC series Mixed Britannia, which will unveil the untold history of Britain’s mixed race community.

A mixed couple on their wedding day in the 1940's (Image: BBC)

Race relations have not always been rosy here in the UK – riotsmarches and even murder leave an indelible blemish on the history of the nation – but as a young, black woman, who was born and bred in the UK, I am proud to call myself British.  I am proud to be British because I know that fundamentally the core values of tolerance and acceptance are weaved into the very fabric of society and are upheld by the vast majority of citizens.

According to the BBC News website, the mixed-race (or multiracial) demographic is the fastest growing ethnic minority in the UK and the number of mixed-race people in Britain is expected to double between 2001 and 2020, when demographers predict it will reach 1.3 million people.

I thought that it would be fitting to pay tribute to some of the leading British women of mixed heritage, who are making an impact in our nation and around the world.

Jade Thompson for Revlon - The winner of Britain and Ireland's Next Top Model 2011

Thandie Newton - Cambridge educated, A-list actress

Zadie Smith - award winning novelist, essayist and Professor of Creative Writing at the University of New York

Oona Tamsyn King, Baroness of Bow and former Labour MP

Dame Kelly Holmes, DBE, MBE - Double Olympic Gold medallist

Dame Linda Penelope Dobbs, DBE, styled The Honourable Mrs Justice Dobbs - the first non-white person to be appointed to the senior judiciary of England and Wales, being appointed a high court judge in 2004

Leona Lewis - Hackney born, mega songstress

Mixed Britannia will begin tomorrow (6th October) on BBC 2 at 9pm.


Saturday Night Belles – Week 1

And we’re off!

12 weeks of fantastic TV are in store as season 9 of  Strictly Come Dancing kicked off at the weekend with the expected glitter and glamour and the thousands of hopefuls that applied, auditioned and sang their hearts out for the 2011 X-Factor judges have been whittled down to the final 16!

OK, OK… so we’ve seen it all before…but I have to admit that this is pure entertainment at its best and I am convinced that the next 3 months will not disappoint!!

As I mentioned in my previous Saturday Night Bells post, I will be commenting on the hair and make-up looks of Miss Rowland and Miss Dixon each week.

So, how did our leading ladies do in the style stakes this weekend? 

I really liked the pared down glamour that both Kelly and Alesha exhibited this week.

Kelly Rowland for the X-Factor

Kelly took the her final 8 contestants to her home in Miami, in the sunshine state of Florida (nice!!).

Her fun and flirty style epitomised the laid back vibe that Miami exudes.  I really like the tousled hair, funky beehive  and fresh faced make up  in the shot below.

However Kelly still worked the false eyelashes – a beauty accessory that is a staple in my daily armoury!

Bring me Sunshine! Kelly at home in Miami (Image: ITV1)


Kelly’s  black ensemble was classic, yet the relaxed feel was  still evident with her hair not to finished – an easy going, mussed up style was the look du jour.

Again, her makeup is natural yet visible, enhancing her pretty features. Her nude lip colour suits all skin tones  and you can get the look with the NARS Lip Lacquer in Babydoll.  I love this product – high shine and intense colour – the perfect combination!

NARS Lip Lacquer in Babydoll

Alesha Dixon for Strictly Come Dancing

Miss Dixon’s look for the inaugural weekend of SCD was delicate and demure.  Her pretty features were emphasised by her super straight locks…I  LIKE!

A classic centre parting never fails and coupled with a pop of colour on the lips, I give Alesha an 8 out of 10 for this premier look.

Strictly So Lovely! Alesha Dixon (Image: BBC)

Bonus Belle!! Jennifer Hudson!!

It was fabulous to see Jennifer Hudson on the X-Factor!  She looks incredible – her new figure is enviable – but is a testament to her hard work, focus  and dedication.

Her hair looked amazing – classy and sophisticated waves complimented her causal style.  She is a fan of the lace  wig – and hers was looking good!!

Jenny and Kelly...looking good ladies!! (Image: ITV1)

With the live shows of the X-Factor starting this weekend I await the style sensations that will be displayed with bated breath!!  Bring it on Kelly and Alesha!