Beauty Brand History is a new regular series I’m beginning here on Afrobella! We all have the brands we’ve grown up using, the brands we’ve known our whole lives. Here are memories and the true stories behind the beauty brands we love. 


Think back to the earliest days of using a brand of hair product. Think back to the products your mom used on herself, and the products she used on you when you were old enough to migrate from baby shampoos and that kind of thing. Think back to the products you’d be likely to find at a black hair salon in the eighties. If you’re like me, a giant tub of Queen Helene Cholesterol Cream will trigger those early hair memories.

By way of backstory – I got into a discussion on Twitter last night about Verdine White’s hair and how absolutely laid and glorious it always is. Obviously Afrobella is all about natural hair, but Verdine has clearly figured out some things about length retention and maintenance, and he intrigues me tremendously. Someday I want to interview him about his hair (and his stylist, Beverly Hills legend Elgin Charles who clearly has lessons to impart). Anyway, in discussing the hypothetical products that Verdine White may or may not use  on his hair, who else came up but the Queen herself? Queen Helene. She has never let me down, all these many years.

Queen Helene Cholesterol

When my hair was relaxed, I kept a jar of Queen Helene Cholesterol Cream as a general rule. I’d marinate my hair in it for hours, wrap my hair in saran wrap or use a shower cap with it, use it with my trusty Gold N’ Hot Conditioning Heat Cap (you know you had one too, or something similar)! When my skin was at its most acne prone, the CLASSIC Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque came to my rescue. I love that mask in the summertime, and I still use it on my T-Zone to mattify my situation. It’s one of my favorite face masks to this day and I know I’m not alone in the mint julep masque love! I’ve been a fan of Queen’s Cocoa Butter Creme and Jojoba Hot Oil Treatment too, both have gotten me by through dry skin, dry hair, and times of need. Now there are new natural hair marketed Queen Helene products, like the Royal Curl Curl Shaping Creme and the Princess Curl line for kids, but I still find myself sticking with the classics.

With a name like Queen Helene and a longstanding place of honor with women in the black diaspora around the world, you might think this was a historic African American brand. That isn’t the case – Queen Helene was founded in New York by Richard Estrin, who began his career as a beauty supply house salesman, got a degree in chemistry, and became a partner in Para Laboratories. The name Queen Helene was inspired by his baby daughter Helene, and the brand has been around since 1930. According to, “During the 1950’s, Mr. Estrin tested his products in beauty salons and initiated lectures and demonstrations by trained cosmetologists, all under the supervision of Ina Lee, a beauty consultant for Queen Helene.”  This blog post on BrandlandUSA labels Queen Helene as oddball and says their brand “completely defies all current marketing logic.” This is true. Queen Helene remains popular by simply remaining. No big changes to packaging, no heavy advertising, no attempts at rebranding or changing ingredients. It’s the same as it ever was, a staple favorite passed on from generation to generation. It’s a product that you’ve used as is, or off label. I know I’ve added coconut oil and olive oil in an attempt to improve the power of my Queen Helene hair products, and my friend Sybil admitted that she uses Queen Helene Cholesterol on her feet, with plastic bags and socks to make her feet touchably soft the next day. GENIUS! I’m totally trying her idea.

My favorite Queen Helene products are, in order:

Queen Helene Cholesterol Cream

Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque

Jojoba Hot Oil Treatment

Cocoa Butter Creme

Oatmeal n Honey Natural Facial Scrub.

What are yours?

PS: In the course of doing research for this post, I came across this photo – LOL what?

PPS: Is there a beauty brand you’d like me to share the history of? Tell me which brands in the comments!


Niki says:
February 17, 2014, 1:27 pm
Blue Magic or Dax
Max says:
February 17, 2014, 1:28 pm
YES! I remember getting my Queen Helene on in my relaxed days. My plastic cap and heat cap game was so tight. I might just go pick some up and get my DC on.
Ash says:
February 17, 2014, 1:42 pm
The Queen Helene Mint Julep mask is AMAZING. I have acne prone skin and it helps me keep the pimples away. I've tried tons of products but this is the best and it's so cheap.
Michelle F. says:
February 17, 2014, 5:04 pm
omg another Dax girl! Me too!
Michelle F. says:
February 17, 2014, 5:07 pm
Dax, brown Vaseline (Collins Pharmacy has never let me down either), white Vaseline (yes I used that stuff even when my hair was relaxed and jheri-curled lol), oh and Softee.
Halona Black says:
February 17, 2014, 8:57 pm
Sis, that mint julep mask was everything! I used to go to sleep with it on my face at night like it was doing some extra special work on my oily face! As a matter of fact, I should go and get some tomorrow...
kathy says:
February 18, 2014, 12:31 am
I always loved Queen Helene mint julep products. They were the first ones that had a 3-step system for acne. That was over 25 years ago. In that kit it was the mask, scrub and astringent. I still buy the scrub and mask but I can't find the astringent. It was better than witch hazel on my oily skin.
Alice @ Alice in Nappyland says:
February 18, 2014, 10:20 am
Queen Helene's Mint Julep Masque SAVED MY SKIN in high school! I still run to it when I'm having a "situation."
ROBYN says:
February 18, 2014, 3:38 pm
I was just told a few days ago about this brand. I am a blonde and you know that that means. Dry hair. I am going to try it. Thank you :) -
Lisa says:
February 19, 2014, 5:45 am
Queen Helene's Mint Julep mask is still one of my staples. I keep one in my tool chest and use periodically to keep my adult acne in check. Why pay alladat money for other masks when the old standard works?
Sonya Jones says:
February 19, 2014, 8:07 pm
I would like to know the history of Hair Rep pressing oil.
Lisa says:
February 22, 2014, 9:50 pm
Imma take further back - Sulpher 8 and Vaseline. After so many years of trying the newest and latest products, my hair seems to want only these two products.
NubianPrize says:
February 26, 2014, 1:43 am
I've recently gone back to using grease because of this year's harsh winter weather. I'd like the histories of Dixie Peach ( seems to have vanished), Sulfur 8,Glover's Mange,( also vanished; STANK but kept scalp healthy) & Posner Bergamot ( also vanished). My mom used to use those on my hair as well as Madame CJ Walker. I grew up in late 50s & 60s & where I lived I don't recall seeing Dax & Blue Magic
cinn says... says:
March 2, 2014, 5:51 pm
Ha! I have a jar of QH CoCo Butter Creme sitting on my dresser right now to put on my feet when I get out the show in the morning. I have to try that bag trick at night!
Toya says:
March 3, 2014, 12:47 pm
I remember Blue Magic but couldn't use on my hair and scalp it was too heavy. I can't remember what my mom changed too. I think it was posner but I could be wrong. Now I use the African Pride line on my hair. But when I do something radical to my hair I do use Queen Helene to deep condition it so I don't wake up with my hair on the pillow and not on my head moments.
cream pemutih wajah alami says:
May 21, 2014, 2:28 am
Whats up are using Wordpress for your blog platform? I'm new to the blog world but I'm trying to get started and create my own. Do you need any coding knowledge to make your own blog? Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Tiffany says:
January 10, 2015, 8:11 pm
I used the cholesterol treatment and hot oil treatment to transition to natural. No breakage issues! Use the mask for spot treatments! Wow, I think I should get back to the basics! Thanks for the reminder that the tried and true still work best!????
tabitha original says:
March 24, 2015, 2:02 pm
Another method is to take the meat out of the coconut and puree it, spread the mixture on our face and allow to remain there for 20 minutes. In reality, it's just trying to do a job as it is bombarded by sun and other free radical damage. Looking good has just gotten easier and using the best men skin care available on the market today will certainly help you.


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