The History of Hair Straighteners

Written by andy joseph
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Hair straightening is the process of altering the structure of your hair by straightening it to give it a smooth, streamlined look. An innovation dating back to the 19th century, hair straightening has spread across the world, with a multitude of tools and hair products dedicated to the process.

Earliest Hair Straightener

The earliest evidence of any sort of hair straightener is attributed to Parisian Marcel Grateau (c. 1852 to 1936). His 1872 invention was a heated rod. One modern brand of curling iron is named the Marcel Handle after him. He went on to invent a hair straightener with metallic teeth in 1906.

Further Innovations

Isaac K. Shero invented a hair straightener that comprises two flat irons that are heated and pressed together. He patented it in 1909. However, it was Scottish heiress Lady Jennifer Bell Schofield who can be credited with inventing the hair straightener most similar to today's hair straightener. She did so by merging the ideas of Grateau and Shero, coming up with a hinged, two-plated, heated iron.

Hair Products

Despite these innovations, heated instruments cannot permanently change hair texture; chemical relaxers, however, can. Madam C.J. Walker (1867 to 1919) made a fortune when she came up with a line of haircare products and cosmetics, taking advantage of social norms that encouraged black Americans to change the kinky texture of their hair. She became the first self-made female millionaire in the world.


Hair straighteners, whether in the form of heated instruments or chemical-containing products, can damage your hair with extensive use. Hair can become brittle and be prone to damage. The hair shaft can thin, and split ends can occur. Some modern companies have introduced heat protection ranges and reduced or eliminated the amount of certain chemicals in hair-straightening products to reduce hair damage.


Hair straighteners are popular in the beauty world, because of their success in straightening, styling and protecting hair. It also helps that technology has improved immensely to provide better and less harmful results.

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