Who Invented the Hair Extensions

The most widely accepted inventor of hair extensions is an African American woman from Louisiana named Christina Jenkins.

My name is Lori, and I am a hair extensions enthusiast, I love the way how hair extensions can change our looks and lives. I’m interested in learning the origin and history of hair extensions. That’s why I’ve spent around 30 hours researching the development of hair extensions.

In this article, I will talk about why Christina Jenkins was considered the lady who invented hair extensions and all those related facts.

Keep reading to learn more!

Christina Jenkins – The Lady Who Invented the Hair Extensions

Background

Christina .M. Jenkins (1920 – 2003, birth name: Christina Mae Thomas) was born on December 25, 1920, in Louisiana. By 1943, Christina graduated from Leland College in Louisiana with a Bachelor’s Degree in Science.

In 1949, when Christina was working in a wig manufacturer in Chicago, she started researching and developing a hair sewing technique to secure a wig on the head.

Before her invention, people were using clips, grips, and pins to hold the hair on the scalp. However, there are a few problems with this method:

  • This was a very short-term method, people could not wear the wigs or hair extensions for days.
  • The wigs were very easy to fall off, chemicals and heat are needed to secure the hair on the head.
  • The wigs or hair extensions looked bulky and fake.

The Revolutionary HairWeeve Technique

To solve these problems, Christina Jenkins invented the “Permanently Attaching Commercial Hair to Live Hair”, patent no. US 2621663, also known as the “HairWeeve” technique.

Here are the technical drawings of HairWeeve submitted by Christina when she applied for the patent:

Technical Drawings 1 of HairWeeve by Christina Jenkins for her Patent.
Technical Drawings 2 of HairWeeve by Christina Jenkins for her Patent.
Technical Drawings 3 of HairWeeve by Christina Jenkins for her Patent.

Basically, this is a technique about attaching the commercial hair and transform natural hair to a net, sew them on a cornrow base on the wearer’s head.

This method allows hair extensions to stay on the scalps securely for up to a few weeks.

On 4 May 1951, Christina filed a patent regarding this technique. And a year later, the patent was granted.

Christina Jenkins and her husband, the famous jazz pianist Herman ‘Duke’ Jenkins, then moved to Ohio and started teaching her techniques.

She was then invited to different parts of the world, mainly Europe by hairstylists and cosmetologists to teach her method.

She also started and ran “Christina’s HairWeeve Penthouse Salon” in Cleveland until 1993, when she was 73 years old.

Development of Hair Extensions since Christina Jenkins’ Invention

After Christina invented the sewn-in weaves, many more different types of modern hair extensions were also invented, such as clip-ins and tape-ins.

In the 1980s, she improved her invention by having more natural, flowing hair for her hair extensions versus the stiff hair that was used before. This improvement has made the hair extensions more suitable for the needs of African American women.

The hair extensions started to take off in the 90s. Other countries, like China and India, started to export human hair weaves to the U.S for customers because of the quality of hair they could provide.

It has been about seventy years since Christina Jenkins invented the HairWeeve method. Human hair extensions have progressed so much over the years that they can last for even a few months after installing.

Christina Jenkins and Her Revolutionary Hair Extensions

When Christina Jenkins passed away in 2003 at the age of 82, she and her hair weave were called “a pioneer in the field of cosmetology” and “a revolutionary contribution” by the late Ohio US Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones.

Stephanie also said Christina’s hair extension invention has “helped to boost the self-esteem of men and women across the world”.

Christina Jenkins paved the way for many African American women today.

Back in those days, it was not easy to get an education, let alone invent something by yourself without any obstacles in your way. She accepted the challenge and accomplished her goal of developing hair extensions.

Wrapping Up

Christina Jenkins’ invention of hair extensions will forever go on in the hair industry. Her method has been repeated and altered many times to count to stay up to date with today’s looks.

It is interesting to see that it was not that long ago that hair extensions were created, and now it is just so widely used in the world.

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