Inventor of Black Hair Straightening Comb: Marjorie Stewart Joyner

Many of us have heard of Madame C.J. Walker’s contribution to the African American hair industry, but have you heard of Marjorie Stewart Joyner? Read on to find out how this woman was behind the invention of Walker’s famous “hot comb.”

Inventor Marjorie Stewart Joyner (1896–1994)
Marjorie Stewart Joyner (1896–1994) was the first African American to patent a permanent waving machine for hairstyling and became one of the first black woman to receive a patent for an invention.

She later developed a hair straightening comb also known as the “hot comb.” Joyner was an employee of Madame C.J. Walker, to whose company the patent was assigned.

Joyner became the national supervisor of Walker’s chain of beauty schools.

Joyner growing up

The granddaughter of slaves, Joyner was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains near the town of Monterey, Virginia. She was one of thirteen children, only four of whom lived beyond infancy.

Joyner’s education

In 1916 Joyner, the first black graduate of A. B. Molar Beauty School in Chicago, opened her own salon. In 1945 she was a cofounder of the United Beauty School Owners and Teachers Association. It was not until 1973, when she was seventy-seven years old, that she received her bachelor’s degree from Bethune-Cookman College in Florida.

Joyner was called the “Grand Dame of Black Beauty Culture.”

Permanent Waving Machine invention

Did you know about this inventor? What have been your experiences with the hot comb?

Joyner photo and content source: Permanent waving machine photo source: Book sources: Macdonald. Feminine Ingenuity. pp. 297–301. Who’s Who among Black Americans, 1992–93. p. 806. Smith. Notable Black American Women, Book II. pp. 366–70.


  1. Most people use the Black Hair Straightening Comb but no one know the history of this and its inventor that how and who prevented this. I am very glad to get detailed information about the inventor of Black Hair Straightening Comb. Thanks for raising my knowledge.

    1. You're very welcome Atena! I was also very excited and glad to be able to write this post. With Black History Month coming up again soon, I look forward to finding more information about Black inventors. Be on the look out for more posts like this.