Hair Inventions

By Erma W.

Primping our hair is no small matter.  We comb it and curl it and tuck it and everything-else-in-between it!  All of these jobs get done thanks to the numerous hair tools at our disposal.  Hair tools have come a long way from their very humble beginnings.  Let's take a look:

1.  Forks to combs:  We are most accustomed to using forks as eating utensils, but according to Juliette Harris and Pamela Johnson's publication of Tenderheaded:  A Comb-Bending Collection of Hair Stories, slaves used forks to comb their hair.  Over time, combs were invented.  There is no official record of when the first non-heated comb was made, but there is evidence of combs being used in Persia nearly 5,000 years ago.  Today, we have a plethora of combs (wooden, seamless, wide-tooth, etc.) to groom our tresses.

2.  Pressing combs to flat irons:  This one is really personal for me.  I can still smell the Dax Pressing Oil mixed with smoke in the air.  I can still see the ivory cloth that my mother used to wipe the excess smoke from when she pressed my hair.  If I concentrate hard enough (especially on a really hot day), I can even feel the sizzle of the comb against my ears and neck.  Ads for hot combs began to appear in catalogs in the 1890s, and Madame C.J. Walker popularized their usage around 1906.  Flat irons arrived on the scene in 1912.  Lady Jennifer Bell Schofield is thought to be the inventor.  Hair straighteners became popular in the 1960s and commercial irons were available in the 1990s.

3.  Bobby pins to spin pins:  Many of us can't remember life without a bobby pin. I always used them for tuck-under styles, and I still keep a few around to pin those super-stretchy headbands that I refuse to let go.  Bobby pins made their debut in the 1920s, when the flappers upped the style ante with crimps and bobs.  In more recent years, we've gotten pin-up help from Goody Spin Pins. I must admit that I was initially skeptical of these pins because I didn't think they'd work for my hair.  I'm happy to say that I was wrong. They hold my bun together quite well at the gym.

4.  Curling irons and curlers:  There's nothing quite like curls.  They have a personality of their own.  It's as if they have their own smile.  Curling it up with heated irons began in 1872, when they were invented by Marcel Grateau.  We still use and love our curling irons, but we have so many additional options.  There are also heated hair curlers, which were created by Solomon Harper, an African-American inventor, in 1930.  We can also enhance our curl power with foam rollers, magnetic rollers, flexirods (my new favorites), perm rods, and curlformers. 

I love all of these hair inventions.  What's your favorite?

I'sha GainesComment