We Would Do Anything for Straight Hair (But We Won't Do That)
Everyone knows beauty is pain, so it makes sense that the hair on our heads has been a front-running victim of punishment. For those of us with curly or wavy hair, this means we’ve gone to great lengths (pun very much intended) to get straight hair. And don’t think that we’re the first ones to try this: this nonsense has been going on for centuries. And it hasn’t shown any sign of stopping.Let’s just think back on the most enviable hairstyles over recent years: the iconic Rachel cut; Zooey’s blunt bangs; Karlie’s chic lob. Notice a common denominator? (Hint: it isn’t color.) Hair trends may come and go, but straight in some form or another is a perennial classic. Too bad the majority of us were not born with this sought-after hair type; we’ve had to work for it.
From risking third-degree burns via unwieldy heat devices to frying our strands with hazardous chemicals until they literally snap off — trust us, it’s all been done. And you won’t believe some of the cringe-worthy practices women have tried through the decades, all in the name of gorgeous hair. We've partnered with L'Oréal Ultimate Straight to take a look back at the madness and say good riddance to these crazy methods.
1. Caution: HOT, Handle with Care
Traditional hot combs were developed in France in the late 19th century as a means to achieve the coveted look of ancient Egyptian women. Later, the design was improved by Madam CJ Walker, who is often (incorrectly) cited as the inventor of the styling tool. Her hot comb, which boasted wider teeth, gained popularity among many African American women in the U.S. Hot combs weren't exactly the safest — they needed to be heated over hot coals or an open stovetop, which often led to nasty burns on the scalp, face, ears, and neck. Ouch. And you thought the occasional pinch of your flat iron was bad.
2. Lady Jennifer To The Rescue
Speaking of the flat iron: That handy tool has been around longer than you probably would have guessed. Scottish heiress Lady Jennifer Bell Schofield introduced the flat iron’s first iteration in 1912. The early prototypes were surprisingly similar to the ones we know and love today. Her revolutionary design minimized the risk of accidental burnings by joining two heated plates together with a hinge in the middle. Heat protectant products didn’t come until later on, so as you can imagine, split ends abounded.
3. Get Those Wrinkles Out
When the straight hair trend made a comeback in the ‘50s and ‘60s, ladies took to multitasking, using the very same iron they used for their clothes on their own hair. This often took teamwork. (Really, what could be more fun than getting together with your best gal pals on a Friday night and taking turns waving one of your most dangerous home appliances inches from your friends’ scalps?) The procedure was of course harmful to the hair and scalp — because you know, clothing irons are made for clothing — but oddly effective.
4. Rebonding: Not For The Commitment-Phobe
Hair rebonding became a pretty big straightening craze in the mid-‘90s, but its popularity is waning — and for good reason. Rebonding permanently alters curly texture by using a harsh chemical formula to break the hair’s natural bonds and rearrange the physical structure of each strand. All these toxins leave the hair shaft brittle and prone to breakage. The process can also easily lead to premature hair loss — yeah, no thanks.
5. Hazardous Fumes
Aiming to loosen curls and eliminate frizz, Brazilian blowout treatments came about in the 2000s and remain prevalent today. Priced anywhere between $150-$600, the lengthy process involves sealing liquid keratin and preservative solution into the hair with a flat iron. While fairly popular in the U.S., several countries have banned the process due to high chemical concentrations and emission of formaldehyde gas during the process. If your stylist is required to wear a gas a mask during your appointment, that’s probably a sign you should run the other way. We’re just sayin’.
This post was sponsored by L’Oréal Advanced Hair Smooth Intense Ultimate Straight, L’Oréal’s first haircare system able to seal in straight style for up to 48 hours*. With the help of L'Oréal's new straightening system plus a heat tool, you'll never have to resort to these drastic tactics ever again.
*Based on using complete system with heat styling tools.