Just curious...

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Before the flat iron made its debut, how did curlies heat straighten their hair?

I know many type 4 curlies and even some type 3 curlies (particularly African-Americans) utilized a pressing or straightening comb for this...



What other heat straightening implements were used, "back in the day" to achieve bone straight tresses on naturally curly hair? Pray tell.
Me Fascina El Pelo




Low Porosity; Medium Strands; Dense
I used a blow dryer in the early 70's to help relax my 3B hair, then I ironed it with a clothes iron. I still have a burn scar on my forehead. It was a dangerous thing to do, and it absolutely ruined my lemon-juice-highlighted frizz-ball hair.

I don't think I ever recovered from the emotional scars of hating my hair back then either.
jeepcurlygurl likes this.

I used giant soup cans and dried my hair under a dryer.
Or I put it back in a tight ponytail and wrapped rubber bands the whole way down to the end. It took forever to dry but I can still remember that it looked and felt kinda cool (silky and crinkly).
Or I used a clothes iron.

I certainly love my healthy hair and all that time and effort I save now that I just let my hair do it's thing.
Kitschy likes this.
In Western PA
Found NC in 2004. CG since 2-05, going grey since 9-05. 3B with some 3A.
Hair texture-medium/fine, porosity-normal except for the ends which are porous, elasticity-normal.
Suave & VO5 cond, LA Looks Sport Gel, oils, honey, vinegar.
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My cousin would put her hair up in a high ponytail, then wrap the tail around a big soup can, and sleep that way. Her hair was thin, so it dried over night. Mine was too thick for that.
If I wanted my hair smooth and styled, I would set it with big pink foam rollers,
and sit under the bonnet hair dryer.
Kitschy likes this.
I had P.E. (Physical Education) 1st period of the day in High School. Our teacher made us shower after working up a sweat. By that time, any attempts I had made at a sleek hairdo were undone.

My mom rolled hers in juice cans and then ironed it with a clothes iron.




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Kitschy likes this.
Kiva! Microfinance works.

Med/Coarse, porous curly.
My mom rolled hers in juice cans and then ironed it with a clothes iron.




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Originally Posted by redcelticcurls
RCC, what a great picture!

Thanks!

It was my first Easter. It's always interesting to see my parents as young people.


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Kiva! Microfinance works.

Med/Coarse, porous curly.
What a tangled web we've all weaved in our quest for straight hair, huh?

Okay call me crazy, but I'm having a hard time picturing the logistics of ironing hair with a clothes iron. How? How? How?

If your hair was long, the only thing I can image is literally laying your tresses across the ironing board and running the clothes iron over it that way. But it would seem that you would have to lay your hair down and someone else would have to do the ironing unless you're part octapus with a gazillion mirrors so you can see what the heck you're doing?

I know I'm probably off track with that image but please enlighten me with the true logistics of it all. I'm dying to know...

I can remember enduring burns on my ears, the nape of my neck and even a time or two on my forehead because I would "duck and move" when my mom came at me with the pressing comb. She warned me to be still or I'd get burnt but when you're a kid and you see something coming at you with smoke coming out of it and you can feel the heat from said object from 10 feet away, well you can't help but to at least flinch if not outright try to get out of the way (like I resorted to 90% of the time).

I also remember hating that my hair always seemed to have a burnt odor to it that would become really strong when I sweat. I hated that I couldn't be carefree in wet or humid environments because my hair would "revert" and shrink and tightly coily back to its natural state at the smallest hint of moisture in the air. Now I realize it was because it was so dry and thirsty all the time thanks to constant heat straighting from the time I was a young child all the way until my sophomore year of high school when I got my first chemical relaxer. Ah, memories...
Me Fascina El Pelo




Low Porosity; Medium Strands; Dense
hahaha. Your image is correct in my case. I had long hair and yes I laid it out on the ironing board, put a cloth on top of my hair and ironed it with the iron! Had to be real careful not to burn myself or my hair.
I only tried this a few times and decided it wasn't worth the risk. The soup can method was hard to sleep on. So I much preferred the ponytail method.
None of these methods lasted long in humid weather so I finally gave up.
In Western PA
Found NC in 2004. CG since 2-05, going grey since 9-05. 3B with some 3A.
Hair texture-medium/fine, porosity-normal except for the ends which are porous, elasticity-normal.
Suave & VO5 cond, LA Looks Sport Gel, oils, honey, vinegar.
http://public.fotki.com/jeepcurlygurl/ password jeepy **updated Aug 2014**
https://www.facebook.com/lifetheuniverseandtodd
Oh, the memories.

I would divide my hair in three parts. The top part was my bang area and crown gathered to the top of my head, and the two sides separated like pony tails.

I would bend down, lay my hair across the ironing board, brush it out as smooth as I could get it, pulling tightly at the ends to keep it as straight and taut as possible. Then I would apply the iron directly to the hair (no protective cloth cover for me) and iron my way top to bottom. As the iron came near to my hand, I'd let go of the ends then pull my strand through under the iron. Voila! Straight....that is until exposed to any moisture, even perspiration. So then I had to spend my day trying to stay cool so I wouldn't sweat.

Although I never did this, I did see girls in my dorm during the '60s ironing their long hair. I never had the nerve to do that. My methods were the giant rollers, then a home straightening kit a couple of times while at art school, and later the blow-dryer. After I found a salon in the mid-70s(in NYC where I was living)that specialized in curly hair, I literally ran to the phone to set up that appointment. I had seen a magazine feature about the salon, and the before+after photo model had similar texture hair that I do and she looked GREAT with her natural curls set free! You see, at the time, it was taking me a full half-hour to blow-dry and straighten my shoulder-length hair and realizing I was going to have to rethink that. I never looked back or ever straightened my hair ever since!
My mother used an iron. I used a curling iron. I have no idea why I had a curling iron. I'm surprised I didn't break off all my hair. I'd open it, put a section of hair in it, and pull it all the way down my hair. My hair was about shoulder length then.
Started CG July 8, 2008


3

Pre Co-wash: Coconut oil (plain & rosemary)
Co-wash: Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle or Trader Joe's Nourish Spa
Rinse out: GVP Conditioning Balm
Leave-in/Styling: Moisture Maniac with Kenra Moisturizing Conditioner on top
hahaha. Your image is correct in my case. I had long hair and yes I laid it out on the ironing board, put a cloth on top of my hair and ironed it with the iron! Had to be real careful not to burn myself or my hair.
I only tried this a few times and decided it wasn't worth the risk. The soup can method was hard to sleep on. So I much preferred the ponytail method.
None of these methods lasted long in humid weather so I finally gave up.
Originally Posted by jeepcurlygurl
So the cloth was your heat protectant...(Hee! Hee!)
jeepcurlygurl likes this.
Me Fascina El Pelo




Low Porosity; Medium Strands; Dense
Oh, the memories.

I would divide my hair in three parts. The top part was my bang area and crown gathered to the top of my head, and the two sides separated like pony tails.

I would bend down, lay my hair across the ironing board, brush it out as smooth as I could get it, pulling tightly at the ends to keep it as straight and taut as possible. Then I would apply the iron directly to the hair (no protective cloth cover for me) and iron my way top to bottom. As the iron came near to my hand, I'd let go of the ends then pull my strand through under the iron. Voila! Straight....that is until exposed to any moisture, even perspiration. So then I had to spend my day trying to stay cool so I wouldn't sweat.
Originally Posted by Kitschy
Oh man, can I relate to this. My mom would finish with my hair and my sister's hair and then say, "Now go outside and play but don't sweat out your hair, I just pressed it."

To this day it is still a mystery how exactly we were supposed to "play" but not sweat.

So, my sister and I would just sit outside in and shade and try to stay cool and watch everyone else (including our younger brothers) run around and have a blast. We feared getting in trouble for sweating and recalling the kinky coils our mom had spent hours heat straightening....
Me Fascina El Pelo




Low Porosity; Medium Strands; Dense
My mother used an iron. I used a curling iron. I have no idea why I had a curling iron. I'm surprised I didn't break off all my hair. I'd open it, put a section of hair in it, and pull it all the way down my hair. My hair was about shoulder length then.
Originally Posted by curry curls
SO IT WAS YOU?!?! You're the one who invented the flat iron?!?!
jeepcurlygurl likes this.
Me Fascina El Pelo




Low Porosity; Medium Strands; Dense
Before the flat iron made its debut, how did curlies heat straighten their hair?

I know many type 4 curlies and even some type 3 curlies (particularly African-Americans) utilized a pressing or straightening comb for this...



What other heat straightening implements were used, "back in the day" to achieve bone straight tresses on naturally curly hair? Pray tell.
Originally Posted by belwillcoily
This....we had an electric one too. I really enjoyed my natural curls back in the day too!
PJ Rehab 9/2011
My mother used an iron. I used a curling iron. I have no idea why I had a curling iron. I'm surprised I didn't break off all my hair. I'd open it, put a section of hair in it, and pull it all the way down my hair. My hair was about shoulder length then.
Originally Posted by curry curls
SO IT WAS YOU?!?! You're the one who invented the flat iron?!?!
Originally Posted by belwillcoily
diaspora likes this.
Started CG July 8, 2008


3

Pre Co-wash: Coconut oil (plain & rosemary)
Co-wash: Trader Joe's Tea Tree Tingle or Trader Joe's Nourish Spa
Rinse out: GVP Conditioning Balm
Leave-in/Styling: Moisture Maniac with Kenra Moisturizing Conditioner on top
My mother used an iron. I used a curling iron. I have no idea why I had a curling iron. I'm surprised I didn't break off all my hair. I'd open it, put a section of hair in it, and pull it all the way down my hair. My hair was about shoulder length then.
Originally Posted by curry curls
I used a curling iron too, just ran it down the length of my curls like a flat iron. Have a scar from a burn on my upper arm. Have not straightened for many years, just can't deal with how sensitive it is to the weather, the potential damage, or not looking like me. My mom would use big rollers and sit me under the dryer, resulting in flat, stringy with dents where the bobby pins were.
Formerly Urbancurl.
Medium-high density, fine-medium, low-normal porosity, 3b/c, permanent color.
CG, no heat, combs, brushes, parabens.
Fall/Winter HG=Alba Botanica Soft Hold Style Cream.
Spring/Summer HG=MGA Sculpting Gel
Current fave LI=Madre Labs Made by Nature for Baby Conditioner.
Limit oils, butters, glycerin.
I used a curling iron, too. Just pulled it through. And then stepped out into the Humboldt County fog and poof! Duh.
Gretchen
NaturallyCurly.com co-founder
3A

You are beautiful!

Last edited by Gretchen; 05-22-2012 at 09:35 AM.

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