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The Hot Comb Madam CJ Walker Invention, Say No to Chemical Hair Perms

Updated on October 6, 2017

A.K.A. - Pressing Comb or Straightening Comb

The "hot comb" was and is used by many Black girls' mothers and grandmothers to occasionally straighten their hair. Some Black women remember as a child, the "hot comb" being used to style their hair; to show the length of the hair in straight mode. Our hair was easier to manage once it was straightened, although we also wore our hair in cute braids and beads. Hot combed hairstyles are more popular with African American women. Hot combing was and is an option for African American's hair, other than perming the hair.

And still today most women would rather press their hair with the hot comb, than to apply a chemical process with a perm. Hot combing the hair is a temporary way of styling the hair. This straight style can last for one week. But the hair cannot be pressed too often, due to potential heat damage. Hair shouldn't be pressed more than twice a month because it could eventually damage the hair. When using a hot comb on the stove or a hot comb-oven the temperature has to be medium heated, and tested on a white paper towel or tissue paper first before pressing the hair with it. Also the hot comb has been updated to an electric hot comb. Most electric hot combs are gold plated which means it's of good quality. Just plug it into the wall-socket and set the temperature to your desired setting form 1-10, and begin your straightening hairstyle.

People that have years of experience in hot combing hair, knows that there is a technique about using the back of the hot comb to actually p-r-e-s-s the hair. First, comb through the hair with the hot comb a few times, then as you hot comb through the hair, began to twist your wrist making the back of the hot comb 'press' the hair. You will notice a huge difference.

Hot Comb Invention, Patented by Madam CJ Walker
Hot Comb Invention, Patented by Madam CJ Walker

Avoid Chemical Hair Perms

Importantly, use a 'heat protectant serum' or lightly textured hair oil applied to the hair before pressing it. These days, "Hot Combed Hair Styles" are commonly used mainly for special occasions, unless you use heat protectant on the hair first. When wearing a hot-combed style the hair has to be protected from humidity and misty environments, so that the hair doesn't go back to its natural state unintentionally. Also to keep the hair pressed for a week long period, avoid hot showers; instead take warm showers to keep the hair from getting back kinky. Wearing pressed hair eliminates the need for chemical perms and texturizers, which can cause irreversible damage to the hair. Did you know that the same ingredients that are in chemical hair perms are in Liquid Drano also? Those perms ingredients are strong enough to unclog metal drain pipes. African Americans should now be conscious enough to know that chemical hair perms are damaging the hair and scalp.

Hot Comb Used for Different Races of People

All races of people use hot combs, hot curlers, flat irons, and any hair device that manipulates the hair. I was kind of surprised when I heard the Italian lady (Joy) on the TV show "The View" say that she and many women in her family uses the hot comb to straighten or style their hair. And I'm sure Barbara Walter wears her hair hot combed in some way, she is a Jewish woman. The hot comb is used for different races of people. Also some men use hot-combed hairstyles. It has become the most hip thing or a fashion statement that guys are wearing their hair flat pressed. I don't think the hot comb will ever be obsolete. The hot comb is an invention that will never go away; because it is a necessity to some degree. The "hot-combed hairstyle" has got many women employment, sad but true. Namely Oprah, she started her Anchor career wearing her natural hair then she begin wearing chemical perms. But she has been mostly wearing a pressed hairstyle when she stopped wearing perm. Imagine Oprah coming to do her talk show with a natural hairstyle, she would probably lose more ratings daily.

Although I give huge props to Whoopi Goldberg (and others), she has not wavered in changing her natural hairstyle texture.That's the beauty of having natural hair choices, wearing it pressed one day, and wearing it natural some other days. Furthermore, chemical perms are of no use to conscious people that knows what it really does or has already done to the individuals that has used it. When hot combing the hair it can be warm-combed enough just to manage it better, or medium-combed where the hair is extremely straight for certain styling. The hot comb will always be a hairstyling tool in many homes.

Did you know that "Coconut Hair Oil" helps replace protein back into the hair? Many African American's lose protein in the hair by using certain shampoos. Loss of protein comes from stripping the hair when washing with certain shampoos that contain alcohol, which also weaken African Americans/Black peoples' hair. Coconut hair oil is natural and light on the hair and it locks in moisture.

Madam CJ Walker - Inventor of the African American Hot Comb
Madam CJ Walker - Inventor of the African American Hot Comb

Madam CJ Walker

The hot comb was first used by the Egyptians, and then became borrowed by French women in Europe during the mid-19th century. The hot comb would become the foundation of the Black beautician industry starting in the early 1900s.

Madam C.J. Walker, who discovered this tool, widened the teeth and was the first to improve the invention in the US in 1900. After slavery the hot comb was a very controversial invention because many debated on whether it was helpful or harmful to the Black community. After Madam C.J. Walker decided to widen the teeth on the hot comb to make it more useful for African Americans hair, she then made a patent for her idea.

Madam C.J. Walker, an entrepreneur and the first self-made African-American millionaire. Currently the "electric hot comb" is widely used also; Gold n' Hot Pressing Comb, and the Andis High Heat Pressing Comb are a couple of the best real gold plated straightening combs on the market.

Many African Americans that use the "electric pressing combs" knows that the pressing comb gets the roots of the hair better than a 'flat iron.'

List of Heat Protectants for Hot Combed Hair

When using heat protectant serum or creams, make sure to use only a dime size amount. This way you hair is not sticky or weighted down after hot combing. Heat protectants are great for: 1. blow drying, 2. flat ironing, 3. hot combing, and 4. hot curling. A heat protectant prevents your hair from eventually becoming damaged by heat. So read the instructions on the bottle of the heat protectant that you buy. And if one protectant doesn't work well on your hair, just use another heat protectant until you find out which one is great for your hair. Whatever hair products that are great for your hair continue to use it, that's my motto.

List of Heat Protectants

  • Biosilk Thermal Shield Heat Protectant
  • Lustersilk Hair Culture Solution Heat Protectant
  • Smooth N' Shine Diamond Luster Anti-Frizz Poof Eraser Serum
  • Turn Up The Heat Protectant Spray
  • John Frieda Frizz-Ease Hair Serum
  • Got 2B Guardian Angel Heat Protectant
  • Fantasia ic Hair Polisher Heat Protectant
  • Tresemme Heat Protectant

Using essential oils in the hair, helps the hair and scalp to heal. It also keeps the hair moisturized and soft. Many essential oils for hair can be found in your local drug stores or whole health food stores such as GNC.

List of Essential Oils for Hair

  1. Coconut Oil
  2. Carrot Oil
  3. Olive Oil
  4. Tea Tree Oil
  5. Vitamin E Oil
  6. Almond Oil
  7. Lavender Oil
  8. Rosemary Oil
  9. Jojoba Oil
  10. Grapeseed Oil
  11. Avacado Oil
  12. Aphogee Essential Oils for Hair

The Best Hair Conditioners

Deep conditioners keep the hair stronger, helps detangle hair, and it makes hair grow longer. Also deep conditioners restore damaged hair such as spit-ends. When you're buying hair products look for ingredients that are 'natural' such as fruit extracts, herbs, essential oils, etc. After applying a deep conditioner to your hair, follow it by putting on a shower cap. This will help lock in moisture, read the instructions on the conditioner label. It's optional to sit under a hair dryer with the shower cap on, depending on the instructions on the hair conditioner's label.

Deep Conditioners for Natural Hair

♥ Aphogee Keratin Two Minute Reconstructor

♥ Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Moisturizing Conditioner Detangler

♥ Mane 'n Tail Deep Moisturizing Conditioner for Dry Hair

♥ Deity America Deep Penetrating Conditioner

Leave in conditioners are to be left in the hair, use a small amount, and especially apply directly to the ends of the hair. Using the best hair conditioners on your hair will be a good investment.

List of the Best Leave-in Conditioners

◊ Bear Fruit Leave-in Conditioner

◊ Proclaim Tea Tree Leave-in Conditioner (at Sally's Beauty Supply)

◊ BWC (Beauty without Cruelty) Leave-in Conditioner

◊ Kimmaytube Leave-in Conditioner

◊ Shea Moisture Shea Butter Leave-in Conditioner

◊ Salerm 21 Silk Protein Leave-in Conditioner

◊ Mixed Chicks Leave-in Conditioner

Andis Electric Pressing Comb Review

When pressing your hair with an electric pressing comb, you don't have to worry about burning your hair. But you will need to use a heat protectant like the John Frieda Frizz-Ease Hair Serum, this is an awesome heat protectant for African American hair as well; I use it on my hair. I purchased the Andis electric pressing comb from (online) because I couldn't find it in Walmart stores or Drug Stores, and it only cost $15.00. After I saw a few reviews online about this Andis electric pressing comb, I wanted to own one; some reviews show that this pressing comb was also in Target Stores.

This electric hot comb gets the roots, and it's great for course hair as well. The Andis electric pressing comb has a temperature setting of 1 through 20, I use the temperature setting on 10 for my hair. This electric hot comb gets very hot, and it gets hot fast right after you plug it up. But it may accidentally get turned off by your hand touching the off button, while you're in the process of pressing your hair. But no worry, just push the "on" button every time you sat the pressing comb down when pressing your hair. Other than that, this hot comb is a great item to add to your hair care products, especially if you are "rock'n natural hair" like many African Americans are these days.

Going Natural Poll

Do You Currently Wear Chemical Hair Perms?

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© 2011 Brinafr3sh


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    • Brinafr3sh profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from West Coast, United States

      Hi Diana, Glad you read this hub. The Chris Rock's documentary Good Hair, raised awareness for conscience and conscienceless African Americans. Thanks

    • Diane Van Hook profile image

      Diane Van Hook 

      8 years ago from CT

      Ah, the hot comb, my old nemesis!

      I'm joking.

      My aunt is a hair dresser of the old school style, and that's what she uses, and once I got over my initial fear of it, I've actually come to prefer it.

      Especially after watching Chris Rock's documentary "Good Hair". The chemicals used for a perm ATE through a can of soda in four hours! And we put this on our heads! It's a good movie, especially with Chris as narrator.

    • Brinafr3sh profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from West Coast, United States

      Hi, thanks for reading this article, glad it's making a difference.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I actually like the fact that you put hair products on here that you could use for any type of hair. Im going to the store today and trying some of them. Thanks (:

    • Brinafr3sh profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from West Coast, United States

      Thanks feenix for you comment. Peace

    • feenix profile image


      9 years ago

      Brinafr3sh, ah, what sweet memories this hub brought to me. My late mother used one of those old school hot combs that had to be heated on the stove. Every morning, she either completely straightened or "touched up" both her hair and my sister's.

      And my sister still "touches up" her hair once in awhile -- and with one of those old school hot combs that has to be heated on the stove.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for the memories!

    • Brinafr3sh profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from West Coast, United States

      @ Zanin, thanks for commenting. And yes the hot comb is to straighten the hair into submission for a temperary moment. Wearing the hair pressed is a way to show the true length of the hair in straight mode.

    • zanin profile image


      9 years ago from London, England

      I remember this comb - an evil device used for torturing little girl's hair into straight submission!! Thank goddess for my locks. Women of colour need to embrace their hair. Why do we continuing to torture ourselves and daughters. I have scars from this device that took years to heal. A definite , no , no no for me. But, I can appreciate that it is perhaps better than chemicals. Thanks for the memory. Nina


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