Marjorie Stewart Joyner, Inventor of the Hair “Permanent Waving Machine”

Written by Jae Jones

Marjorie Stewart Joyner was born in Monterey, Virginia on October 24, 1896. She was the granddaughter of a slave and slave owner. After attending primary school, Marjorie moved to Chicago, Illinois to pursue a career in cosmetology. She attended the A.B. Molar Beauty School and later became the first African-American woman to graduate from the school. At the age of 20, Majorie met and married Robert E. Joyner.

Joyner went on to open her own beauty salon, and  she later became friends with Madame C.J. Walker. Walker was a well-known businesswoman specializing in black hair services and products. During this time, Walker was making a name for herself by supplying prominent figures with hair care and products. After Madame C.J. Walker’s death, Joyner was hired to oversee the Madame C.J. Walker Beauty Colleges as a national supervisor.

During the 1920s, black women were dealing with the issue of making their hair curly without having to use a stove-heated curling iron. Joyner decided to make the process less complicated with an invention she had in mind.  She developed her invention by connecting 16 rods to a single electric cord inside of a standard hair drying hood. Women would wear the hood for the appropriate amount of time and their hair would be straightened or curled. In two years, Joyner had completed her invention and patented it in 1928; she called it the “.”


Joyner became the first black woman to receive a patent and her device was a big success. Curls created by the device were easy to achieve and were lasting in the hair longer than anticipated. Not only did Joyner’s device do well in black salons, it was a big hit in white salons as well. White patrons were enjoying their “permanent curl” or “perm” for days. Joyner also patented a protector for the scalp because the process could be painful. Joyner never received money for her patents, because she was still employed with Madame Walker’s company. So, Walker’s company received the rights and royalties to both patents. Joyner later went on to establish the United Beauty School Owners and Teachers Association with Mary McLeod Bethune. She died in 1994 at the age of 98.




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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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