I remember that strangely wonderful smell of singed hair laced with that green oily hairdressing… In the home beauty salon my mother ran when I was a little squirt. My family all were into beauty – my aunt had a dance studio and a hair salon. My mom ushered in clients from all over the neighborhood, cutting, curling and straightening their hair. It was an experience for the senses.
The thing that mesmerized me was the hot comb…
It sat on an open flame, heating up till it gave off waves of heat and a whiff of smoke, and that distinctive aroma. It didn't stink, it just smelled like burning hair and oil... Not at all unpleasant.
I watched my mom carefully pull that hot comb through the kinky black curls of whoever was in the chair… and the twirls of heat rose from those now straight, hot shocks of hair. The steady even hand of the hairdresser, mom in this case, kept the hot metal blades from touching the scalp…
At that time, in the early to mid 60s, African-American women (and men) all wanted their hair straightened. That was the fashion of the day.
My dad was also deep into the hair care world.
We lived in Detroit – my dad was the top dog salesman at Superior Beauty and Barber Supply, the largest Black owned beauty and barber supply company in the city and probably the Midwest.
So, I was surrounded with hot combs, Ultra-Sheen, curlers and curling irons.
We also had one of those huge heavy metal bonnet hair dryers that women sat under and cooked their heads and came out beautiful. Every conceivable tool of the trade passed through that kitchen and my dad’s car was always packed with new products…
We went through the “do,” the “process” and the “conk.” (All names for the slick hair style Chuck Berry, James Brown etc., wore back then.) Then moved through the Afro and then the Geri Curl… and then I moved out on my own and hit the world. I only came back to hair care tools recently, but it is old territory. And, I'm comfortably familiar. What we have today is an evolution of new stuff that is firmly rooted in the old... Evolution is what it is… and it’s a wonderful thing.
So, this post simply compares the old hot comb, to today’s ionic straightening brush. Don't let the marketing fool you – it’s old school brought into present time.
But, there’s much less heat involved in straightening hair these days.
The old hot comb was heated on an open flame. In my mom’s kitchen salon, it was natural gas. Think, 3,542 degrees Fahrenheit… that's the temperature. That’s hot. Yes, the comb would get a chance to cool down, but I can assure you, it was hotter than today’s top temperatures of 450 degrees. A bit later, they came out with a small, electrically powered ceramic oven that replaced the open flame... but it was hot too. I remember the reddish glow coming out of that little oval oven...
So, hair damage these days is at a minimum. And the straightening brushes – the new hot combs - allow you to adjust the temperature lower or higher as needed to handle your specific hair type.
So, ladies and gentlemen! Straighten away! Add whatever heat protectant product you choose and find the correct temperature for your hair and have a straight hair day!
Here’s to a beautiful you!
Al @ 6th Sense
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