The Hot Comb Madam CJ Walker Invention, Say Goodbye to Chemical Hair Perms

Black girls these days use the hot combs for straightening their hair now and then. And their mothers and grandmothers have been using it for centuries for a variety of styling purposes.

Featured Image of the Hot Comb Madam CJ Walker Invention

Styling hair with hot combs has been traditionally popular among African American women. No matter how much we whites fantasize about hair perming, they seem to always prefer hot combing over it.

Here, we’ll be discussing if we could take similar steps to forgo the harsh chemical hair perms for good.

Check: Are Hot Combs Bad for Hair?

Pressing Combs AKA Straightening Combs

Combing hair with a hot comb is the way that allows you to temporarily straighten your hair, which may last up to a week. However, you cannot afford to press the comb too hard because of the potential damages that the applied heat may cause. More specifically, you must avoid pressing the hair more than a couple of times a month, for it can cause long-term damage.

If you opt to do it in the old style, be it a stove, or a hot comb-oven, you should lower the heat to a moderate level. Additionally, we recommend to test it on a white paper or a tissue before applying it on your hair.

Going for the updated electrical versions is by far the best idea. You can plug it in a wall socket and set your preferred heat setting.

If you want to ‘actually’ press your hair with a hot comb, there’s an old technique worth trying out.

It deploys the back of the comb. First, you need to comb it through your hair strands a few times. Then while combing, start twisting your wrist to bend the back of the comb to press your hair with. You’ll surely figure out the difference yourself.

Madam CJ Walker and Her Initiatives

Although Egyptian women were the first to use the hot combs, the tool had got its development underway after the French women borrowed it from them midway through the 19th century. And years later, the hot comb made its way to become the foundation of the beauty industry of African American beauticians.

Madam CJ Walker

Madam CJ Walker is the name that comes up every time you look up in the history book of hot combs. Despite widely regarded as the inventor of the hair tool, she was actually the first to develop it from its antiquity.

During the years of slavery, the discovery of hot comb became a matter of debate, whether the tool was harmful or helpful among the Black community.

Even so, Walker decided to carry on the development of the tool further and introduced a version with widened teeth. She also got herself a patent for it. It later brought herself a vast fortune; the entrepreneurship that made her the first self-made millionaire in the Black community.

Today, the electric hot combs (mostly known as the electrical pressing combs) are used more widely that have taken up the job of the old-style heat burner or stoves.

Andis High Heat Pressing Comb and Gold n’ Hot Pressing Comb are two names worth mentioning here. They are among the best hot combs with real gold-plated teeth.

It’s believed among many beauty professionals that hot pressing combs reach the hair roots better than flat irons. However, they hardly match the results.

READ MORE: When Was the Hot Comb Was Invented?

Chemical Hair Perms, Yay, or Nay?

Would it surprise you if I say the ingredients used in chemical hair perming are precisely the same as those in Liquid Drano?

Well, sadly, the deadlier truth is, those perm ingredients are equally powerful as the chemicals used for unclogging metal drain pipes.

Now that you’re thinking how dangerous they can be for your scalp and hair, you may wonder why hot combing is the best possible replacement. Here’s how.

Wearing pressed hair, you can cut off the necessity of hair perming. If you can manage to hot comb your hair protecting it from misty environments or humidity, you can expect similar results as a chemical hair perming would provide.

And how will you do that?

The answer is as simple as it sounds. You have to use a traditional heat protectant before pressing down your hair with a hot comb. Especially if you go for a protective hair oil that has a light texture, the result will last beyond a week. However, you must avoid taking hot showers, so your hair doesn’t revert to its natural state inadvertently.

TRESemmé Thermal Creations Heat Protectant Spray is the product I would prefer most in this regard, which works excellent against heat and frictions, and holds on to the effect for an extended period. HSI PROFESSIONAL Argan Oil Heat Protector is another mention-worthy name that lets you pass a generous amount of heat without damages.

So, why waste hefty bucks on hair perming sessions, when you can get similar, yet cost-effective a solution without causing severe damage to your hair?


Your Turn

Hot combs have been gracing the African American hair for over a century with its excellent heat passing abilities and deftly pressed hair locks. Now that the modernized versions are out with more accuracy and suitability to more hair types, maybe its time for us whites to embrace the tool and stay clear from chemical hair perms.



  1. Hi,

    I just came here to share my experience with all you Afro-American girls here. Never, ever try the traditional hot comb on your hair. I repeat NEVER.

    Out of curiosity, I tried it once and it was the biggest mistake of my life. My hair got so badly burnt that I had to chop it off. As I had to heat it on the stove, I didn’t understand how hot it was and as soon as I tried to comb my hair with it, my precious manes got burnt instantly.

    Be aware girls. Learn from my mistakes.

    Thank you.

    • Dear Jaclyn,

      First of all, we are sorry to hear about your hair. We understand the pain you are going through.

      Secondly, we would like to thank you for sharing your experience with us. We are sure that our readers will be greatly benefited from this.

  2. Hello there,

    I loved this piece of writing. I was thrilled, overwhelmed, and surprised to know about Madam CJ Walker. She was so fashion forwarded and brave. I appreciate that you mentioned her and the works she had done to develop a hot comb to help African American women to style their manes.

    Thank you for this article. It was great reading this.

    Keep up the good work.

    • Dear Sephora,

      Thank you very much for taking the time out and writing to us. We are overwhelmed with your feedback.

      Please keep coming back for more amazing articles.

  3. I agree with the above comment. It was really nice to know about Madam CJ Walker and the works she had done to make styling natural hair easy and effortless. She made life easier for women with back natural hair.


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