Lyda D. Newman: The Inventor Who Revolutionized the Hairbrush


Lyda D. Newman, a ground-breaking innovator and champion for women’s rights, made an imprint on American history. Being a black woman in the early 20th century, Newman overcame many challenges to make ground-breaking advancements in engineering and design. One of her most famous contributions was the development of a novel hairbrush that became wildly popular and completely altered the cosmetics industry. This article will examine some exciting trivia regarding Lyda D. Newman’s astonishing inventions and her fascinating life and legacy.

Early Life and Education

Lyda D. Newman was raised in a household that valued education and hard work. She was born in Ohio in 1885. Her parents came from the South to Ohio as emigrants pursuing better possibilities. Despite racial prejudice and discrimination, Newman excelled in school and showed a strong passion for learning and problem-solving from an early age. Newman attended Howard University after graduating from high school, where she majored in math and physics and discovered a profound love for engineering.

Inventor of the hairbrush designed for black hair

Newman created and copyrighted a revolutionary type of hairbrush when she was just 13 years old, which would revolutionize the cosmetics industry. She incorporated rows of synthetic bristles into a rubber base that allowed the bristles to bend and conform to the contours of the user’s scalp. It used synthetic bristles, which are more durable and robust than the animal hair that was typically used.

The brush was designed specifically for the hair of Black Americans. Faster cleaning was made possible by the ability of synthetic bristles to comb through thicker hair more efficiently and to be separated and reattached. Moreover, there was an air chamber so the brush could dry fast and a section to catch any debris or fallen dandruff.

History of the Hair Brush

In Great Britain, William Kent established the first company that produced hair brushes, Kent Brushes, in 1777—one hair brush required as many as 12 persons to complete. Bristles were hand-stitched together and continue to be one of the country’s oldest businesses. In 1885, a second Englishman created the automatic brush boring machine. In this method, the production of brushes might increase. The same year, Mason Pearson also developed a pneumatic rubber cushioned brush, and this fashion is still widely used.

Lyda D. Newman wasn’t the first to invent the hairbrush in the US. The states had their fair share of inventors in the hair brush industry. The first person to patent a hair brush invention was Hugh Rock. He was renowned for producing exquisite gift sets, including matching metal-handled brushes, combs, and mirrors. They frequently have scalloped edges to enhance their brilliance further. In 1870, Samuel Firey filed for a patent on his elastic wire teeth. To obtain the best of both worlds, he mixed them with natural bristles. Then Lyda Newman submitted a patent for synthetic bristles in 1898.

Advocacy for Women’s Suffrage

With her revolutionary work as an inventor, Newman was a vocal supporter of women’s rights, including the right to vote. She diligently strove to advance the notion that women should have equal opportunity and representation in all spheres of society. Newman participated in several women’s organizations, including the Equal Suffrage League and the National Organization of Colored Women, and she frequently spoke and lectured on the value of women’s rights.

Newman’s Legacy

Lyda D. Newman made significant contributions to engineering, design, and women’s rights that will live on in American history. The creation of the hairbrush transformed the cosmetics industry and made it possible for other women to pursue careers in engineering and design. The feminist movement of the 20th century had its roots in Newman’s support for women’s suffrage, and her legacy still motivates women and girls to follow their dreams and break down obstacles.

Lyda D. Newman

Lyda D. Newman. (2023, March 3). In Wikipedia.

Fun Facts about Lyda D. Newman

  1. Newman was a talented designer, tailor, innovator, and supporter of women’s rights. She helped other women in her town and made her garments using her sewing abilities.

2. Sarah E. Goode and Judy W. Reed preceded Newman as the first black woman ever to be granted patents.

3. The design of Newman’s hairbrush was so popular that it endured for many years and was even used in commercials for well-known products like Coca-Cola and Palmolive.

4. Newman  was an active member of the NAACP in her NYC,

5. Newman was a prominent opponent of racism and segregation and supported women’s rights. Along with other activists, she fought for gender and racial equality for all people.


In conclusion, Lyda D. Newman significantly contributed to American history as a great inventor and champion of women’s rights. She made ground-breaking contributions to engineering and design disciplines and tirelessly fought for civil rights and women’s suffrage, which profoundly affected society. In addition to challenging gender stereotypes of the day, Newman’s invention of the hairbrush transformed the beauty industry, and her support of women’s rights paved the path for later generations of women. Newman persevered in her ambitions despite encountering many challenges, and her legacy has inspired and empowered women and girls worldwide.


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