By Sherica Phillips
Now honestly, I’ve probably only had a hot comb used in my hair three times. But that was enough! Each time I swore my hair was frying and I’d have to settle for resembling the Cynthia doll from the Rugrats for the rest of my life! But believe it or not, this invention wasn’t discovered by Black-American women. Most of you that really know your natural hair history are probably gonna get this right on point. It was discovered by the Europeans, the French to be exact!!!!
There is a misconception that the hot comb was invented by Madam C.J. Walker, the first self-made African-American millionaire. In all actuality, the tool was used by French women in 1845 who were trying to replicate the styles worn by the ancient Egyptians (hmmm how ironic). The comb was actually sold in Sears and Bloomingdales to the American public in the 1800s. However when Madam C.J. Walker received a patent for the hot comb, she redesigned it giving it wide spaced teeth so that it could better accommodate thicker hair of various textures.
Hot combs were a significant improvement from the older methods used by African- Americans during slavery to straighten hair. Back then they used to use axle grease, heated butter knives and homemade lye. That’s how it came to be in the black community. The actual inventor of the hot comb is still unknown.
In 1968 Dr. Christopher Papa released a study that stated hot combs had caused inflammation and scarring to the scalps of most Black American women. They labeled this “hot comb alopecia” and said that it was the combination of petroleum and excess heat from hot combs that lead to the burning and scarring of the scalp causing this condition. Lesson of the day and of our lives ladies! Love yourself! Dark skin, light skin, wavy curls and tight curls. Just learn to be happy with you! Apparently trying to change would just be extremely costly and unbearably painful. At the end of the day you are who you are! Don’t just learn to be satisfied with it, learn to be PROUD of it!!!
Sherica and sister Taneica are authors of the new blog Shatterproof Glass Dolls. Be sure to check it out.