Curious History

Curious History

The hair-raising tale of hair straighteners

Straight hair popularity

Long and straight hair has been popular since ancient Egypt. The earliest proof of hair straightening can be attributed to Parisian Marcel Grateau who invented a heated rod in 1872 with metallic teeth. But in 1906 Simon Monroe became the first person to patent the flat iron. Then, Isaac Shero came up with a hair straightener comprising of two flat irons, heated and hard-pressed together. He patented his invention in 1909. Around 1912, Lady Jennifer Bell Schofield merged the ideas of Grateau and Shero to come with two plates heated iron held together with a hinge. Her flat iron bears a close resemblance to today’s hair straightener.

Despite these inventions, heated equipments could not straighten the hair permanently whereas chemical relaxers could do so. Around the 1900s, an Afro-American woman by name CJ Walker came up with her line of hair care and beauty products and encouraged women of her community to use hot irons to straighten their hair. Every single Afro-American model covered in the magazine, sported straight hair that led to a debate among Christian ministers, Civil Rights Leaders, and nationalists. They saw it as a sign of self-hatred, while their wives got their hair straightened. It was after seeing politician Booker T. Washington’s wife’s hair, CJ Walker joined this industry.

The 1950s saw the rebirth of straight hair trend. Women and girls would help one another iron their curls. They used clothes iron by placing it on an ironing board. Though harmful, this procedure proved helpful and is still used in many countries. End of the 70s era saw the trend of straightening hair being replaced by other styles such as cane rows and dreadlocks.

Once the trend of trying different hair styles ended in the 80s, women once again started opting for straight hair. Beauty companies caught on to this trend by marketing hair straightening products. The “not-so-expensive” hot plates were encased by plastic handles, and some companies offered additional plates to create different shapes.
Gradually, the iron plates were replaced by lighter metals and equipments where heat can be controlled. And in 1995, Japanese hair expert Yoko Yamashita came up with Japanese Hair Straightening to permanently straighten human hair with chemicals. Other hair smoothing treatments includes Keratin Treatment, Brazilian Treatment, are being used today to style your hair the way you want, provide nourishment, and add that shine that has been missing for long.

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