Beauty Brand History is a new regular series 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 first time you remember having your hair combed. What do you remember?
I remember sitting between my mom’s knees, or at my auntie’s feet. I remember a rat tail comb being used to part my hair. I remember there being a big jar of grease nearby. Almost universally – every woman of color used some kind of grease in their hair. I’m not talking about natural oils, juices or berries here. I mean GREASE, made with mineral oil, lanolin and petroleum jelly. Many of us remember that familiar jar o’ grease. And for many of us, that jar was classic Blue Magic.
Does this painting by Courtney Loveless not ring true for so many of us? It’s called Be Still. I remember this feeling all too well.
When I kicked off this Beauty Brand History series, I asked what brand most of you would like to see featured and Blue Magic was at the top of the list. You asked, and you shall receive!
Blue Magic is now 48 years old, and it remains a staple in the ethnic aisle on those lower drugstore shelves everywhere. Let me take you back to the brand’s earliest days. Via Blue Magic:
“The Blue Magic brand was a fast fan favorite that was not acquired, but rather developed in house by J. Strickland & Co. in Memphis, Tenn.
The first product in the line, in 1968, was Blue Magic Pressing Oil, which originated from a high demand for something that would better serve the need of a growing style trend. Blue Magic Conditioner Hair Dress and Blue Magic Bergamot Conditioner soon followed in ‘74.
The aim of the speedy expansion was ownership’s strong desire to provide products of great quality at a great price. The thought was that people could get substantial value from 12 oz. jars of product, as opposed to their much smaller counterparts that were on the market at the time.
Now, Blue Magic Conditioner Hair Dress is the #1 ethnic hair conditioner in the country. Plus, there have been several other products added to the line.”
In case you wondered, J Strickland is the manufacturer of old school ethnic hair and beauty brands like Nadinola, World of Curls and Sulfur 8. They’ve been doing their thing since 1936. The brand began when the founder, Mr. George B. Long, borrowed $500 to start a business. White Rose Petroleum Jelly and Royal Crown Hair Dressing were some of his first products, and Blue Magic came along more than 30 years down the road.
There are many old school pomade and hair dress brands, but Blue Magic has remained among the most popular for decade after decade. Fads have come and gone, and Blue Magic has held firm. Back in the day, Blue Magic was used to press and straighten hair. Nowadays I know ladies who use it to slick down their edges and have a glossy twist-out.
The modern day natural movement is of a divided mind regarding grease, and these kinds of retro African American hair products. On one hand, the ingredients are as follows: Petrolatum , Lanolin , Lecithin , Mineral Oil , Fragrance , Green 6 , Violet 2. On the other hand, these are ingredients that have been used in hair products since time immemorial. Our grandmothers and grandfathers used these kinds of products. There are many for whom grease is still the word. And some of my favorite fellow bloggers, Curly Nikki and Folake of Style Pantry, have shared their experiences and love of hair grease. It’s a new day and we’re an informed consumer market with options galore. It’s all a beautiful thing, IMO!
What’s old is new again, and now the makers of Blue Magic recognize the need to evolve as a brand. For example, they’ve got some new products they’d like me to tell you about.
“The Blue Magic 3 Step, which includes a deep cleansing shampoo, deep conditioner, and co-wash, is the newest addition to the ever-growing family. However, there are several leave-in conditioners like our Blue Magic Argan line that features Mango and Lime, Herbal Complex, and Vitamin E leave-ins that have also been added recently. In addition, our new cream line, which has non-greasy formulas, and features our Tea Tree, Olive and Carrot Oils, provides customers with several options for keeping follicles moisturized. Blue Magic is a brand that has become a staple in ethnic hair care. It strives year after year to provide the quality and value that its customers have come to expect. It labors on in its effort to constantly evolve becoming Newer, Better, and Fresher!”
So in case you don’t want to use traditional Blue Magic, you can reach for the argan oil version, or the cream remix.
So many brands in the hair business have made their debut and quietly disappeared. It takes something special to have staying power in the industry – your product has to find an audience that is looking for that kind of quality year after year. Old Blue figured that out a long time ago. Now they’ve got new products in the roster and Blue Magic is also into social media now – you can find @BlueMagicHair on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. And you can check out their brand new, official site at BlueMagicHairCare.com.
Thank you to Blue Magic for providing brand history info and archived ads!
What are YOUR Blue Magic memories? Also, what brand would you like to see featured next on Beauty Brand History, bellas?