Hot comb

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An illustration for a hot comb patent from 1920

A hot comb (also known as a straightening comb) is a metal comb that is used to straighten moderate or coarse hair and create a smoother hair texture.[1] A hot comb is heated and used to straighten the hair from the roots. It can be placed directly on the source of heat or it may be electrically heated.[2]

History[edit]

The hot comb was an invention developed in France as a way for women with coarse curly hair to achieve a fine straight look traditionally modeled by historical Egyptian women.[3] However, it was Annie Malone who first patented this tool, while her protégé and former worker, Madam CJ Walker widened the teeth.[4] After slavery the hot comb was a very controversial invention because many debated on whether it was beneficial or hurtful to the black community.[citation needed] There were some African Americans who believed that the hot comb damaged the African-American community because it made the community submissive to the 'white ideal image' of beauty and disregarded African-American culture.[citation needed] Others believed that efforts like hair straightening would boost their social and economic status.[citation needed] This dilemma continued and progressed throughout the 20th century. Today, hot combs are still used by many African-American beauticians and families as an alternative to chemical hair straightening. Many African American and women of other races, still utilize hot combs because this form of straightening is temporary and less damaging to the hair if done properly.[citation needed]

Potential consequences[edit]

It is not uncommon, especially when using a traditional hot comb, to burn and damage hair. A hot comb is often heated to over 65 degrees celsius, therefore if not careful severe burns and scarring can occur. Hot comb alopecia and follicular degeneration syndrome are irreversible alopecia of the scalp that was believed to occur in people who straighten their hair with hot combs, but this idea was later debunked. The hot petrolatum used with the iron was thought to cause a chronic inflammation around the upper segment of the hair follicle leading to degeneration of the external root sheath.[5] In 1992, a hot comb alopecia study was conducted, and discovered was that there was a poor correlation between the usage of a hot comb and the onset and progression of disease. The study concludes that the term follicular degeneration syndrome (FDS) is proposed for this clinically and histologically distinct form of scarring alopecia.[6]

Further reading[edit]

  • Byrd, Ayana D., Tharps, Lori L. Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 2001
  • The Black Inventor Online Museum, Blackinventor.com
  • Philip LoPresti, MD; Christopher M. Papa, MD; Albert M. Kligman, MD, PhD.”Hot Comb Alopecia” Arch Dermatol. 1968; 98(3):234-238.
  • LTC Leonard C. Sperling, MC; COL Purnima Sau, MC, “The Follicular Degeneration Syndrome in Black Patients: ‘Hot Comb Alopecia’ Revisited and Revised” Archives of Dermatology. 1992;128(1):68-74.
  • Patton, Tracy Owens. “Hey Girl, Am I More than My Hair? African American Women and Their Struggles with Beauty, Body Image, and Hair.” NWSA Journal 18, no 2 (2006): 24-51.
  • Banks, Ingrid. Hair Matters. New York: New York University Press, 2000.
  • Djanie, Akua. “The Black Woman and the Beauty Myth” New Africa 488 (October 2009): 60-61.
  • Akbari, Lisa. A Black Woman’s Guide to Beautiful Hair: A Positive Approach to Managing Any Hair Type or Style. Illinois: Sourcebooks. Inc, 2002.
  • Rooks, Noliwe M. Hair Raising: Beauty Culture and African American Women. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1996.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "What is a Hot Comb?". WiseGeek. Retrieved 2012-05-24. 
  2. ^ "What is a Hot Comb?". WiseGeek. Retrieved 2012-05-24. 
  3. ^ Byrd, Ayana D., Tharps, Lori L. Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 2001 p. 20
  4. ^ The Black Inventor Online Museum, Blackinventor.com
  5. ^ Philip LoPresti, MD; Christopher M. Papa, MD; Albert M. Kligman, MD, PhD.”Hot Comb Alopecia” Arch Dermatol. 1968; 98(3)p 234
  6. ^ LTC Leonard C. Sperling, MC; COL Purnima Sau, MC, “The Follicular Degeneration Syndrome in Black Patients: ‘Hot Comb Alopecia’ Revisited and Revised” Archives of Dermatology. 1992;128(1) p68

External links[edit]