Perming and Straightening Hair
Early Egyptians and Perming Hair
Permanently curling hair goes back to the beginning of civilisation. The early Egyptians wound hair around sticks, coated it with clay and baked it in the sun. The old wigmakers or perruquiers found that permanent curl would be produced by wrapping the hair around sticks and boiling in water.
At the beginning of this century a system of perming was introduced which consisted of winding the hair, spirally, from points to roots, around sticks or curlers, securing the points by tying with string. A borax paste was coated onto the wound hair, muslin paper and flannel were used to cover and protect the hair. Heat was applied to each of the wound curlers and allowed to cool. Specially designed irons, similar to the older crimping irons used to form lines and crimps in hair before S-shapes were the fashion, were used to apply heat. Later elecric heaters took the place of the heating irons and the first electric hot perming system was produced.
Hot perming systems were used, in many forms, up to the end of the Second World War. The first systems had the disadvantage of excessive heat being used over prolonged periods. This resulted in dry hair and scalp burns. The early elecric heating machines produced shocks and discomfort to the client. Later systems were introduced which consisted of lower alkaline reagents. Lower temperatures, better curlers, protective water jackets and safer electric heating machines.
Wireless Perming Systems
After electric heating systems, for perming hair, came wireless perming systems, which did not require clients to be directly attached to an electric machine. This was another disadvantage of earlier systems, The attachment of the client to a machine by wires. These newer systems consisted of winding the hair from points to roots, ie CROQUIGNOLE method. The application of kinder reagents to the hair, and applying heat from heaters detached from a machine. An electric machine heated especially designed heater clamps which fitted over the wound curler. In some systems a nibber jacket was used to protect the hair.
Tepid perming was introduced about the same time as the first wireless and machineless systems but was a method of perming which did not require the use of a machine. Tepid perming consisted of croquignole winding, the application of a reagent. Not unlike a weak cold perm lotion and covering the wound curlers with sachets after being dipped into water. The sachets contained calcium oxide and the action of water produced sufficient heat in the sachet to activate the reagents used on the hair. This system did not become popular until recent times, and became known as the exothermic perm. The advantages of this, and the newer tepid perming systems; some of which include the use of a machine, are the low alkaline reagents used, less heat, hair left in better condition and improved client comfort and safety.
When the cold perming system was introduced in this country on a large scale, in 1946, its action on hair was harsh and rough, but it soon became the most popular system in use. It is not vastly superior to the earlier methods, but the hair is left in a far better state.
Despite the many improvements of hot, tepid and cold perming systems, hair is still wound onto sticks or curlers and processed in a similar way to that used by the early Egyptians. Today, however, the hair is more naturally proccessed with a softness and safety other systems were unable to produce.
Semi permanent waving systems have been introduced which produce a curl in hair which gradually relaxes over a period of six to eight weeks. These are popular since gentle effects and enough body to hold modern styles are produced. This system involved the use of large curlers with cold waving type reagent which is activated by the heat of a dryer.
The search for newer and better methods of perming continues, and the system which does not rely on winding, reagents and heat is yet to be found.
Hair straightening has been around for many years. This is mainly due to the fact that people with very curly hair wish they were born with sleek straight hair. This doesn't mean that only people with curly hair want a method to straighten it. Even people with relatively straight hair sometimes need to iron out the odd curl or straighten out that morning hair look.
There are a few different methods used to straighten hair from temporary to more permanent methods.
Hair straighteners or flat irons
This is the most popular choice for anyone wishing to straighten their hair. This is because it is only temporary. Hair will eventually go back to it's natural state. It is also convenient because no costly trips to the hairdressers are needed. A person can style and straighten their hair at home or in a hotel room when on holiday.
Hair straighteners are small and compact and are used by plugging them in to an electric socket to heat them up. A small section of hair is placed between two hot plates. Clamping the two plates lightly together will heat the hair and cause it to remain straight.
You can have a lot of fun with a set of hair straighteners as many different styles can be achieved for a temporary new look. There are also many different types of hair straighteners available on the market made with different materials to protect the hair and make hair shinier and silkier.
For a more permanent solution that will last a few months, Thermal Reconditioning can be used to straighten hair. A flat iron is used with a cornstarch solution to keep hair straighter for longer. It can take a long time to achieve a finished look, but the result will be more permanent than using hair straighteners alone.
Chemical Hair Straighteners
The most permanent method of straightening hair is to use chemicals to break down the hair structure. Hair is left permanently straight, but any new hair growth will still be curly. Sodium hydroxide or Cysteamine Hydrochloride is used to relax and straighten the hair. Being chemicals, they can be irritating to eyes and skin if not applied properly. Chemical based hair straightening should be achieved by visiting a professional hairdresser.
There are many different types of hair straighteners to choose from depending on the type of hair you have and the general style you wish to achieve. There are different hair straighteners with features most suitable for long or short hair and ones designed for fine or thick hair. Finding the right one for your type of hair will make it easier to create the styles you want. The wrong one could be frustrating to use and could end up damaging your hair.
Using hair straighteners on a daily basis is not advisable. But if you do use them more than often, heat treatment sprays and conditioners can reduce the adverse affects of using straighteners on a regular basis.
Types of hair straighteners
Chrome hair straighteners
If you have hair that damages easily or hair that is fine or dry then chrome straighteners are not the best choice for you. Chrome hair straighteners are the cheapest type of straightener available on the market and are only really suitable for occasional use as they can damage hair easily when used regularly.
Steam hair straighteners have a function like a steam iron for pressing clothes. You add water to a small reservoir on the straightener. This will produce a small puff of steam from time to time that will help to moisten then quickly dry and straighten the hair. Steam can cause more frizz if overly used and works best for those who have relatively straight hair in the first place. used correctly and only occasionally, steam straighteners are great for ironing out the odd curl.
Gold hair straighteners
More expensive that the chrome straighteners, gold plated hair straighteners are less damaging to hair. If you have normal to thick hair and want to remove frizz then gold plated straighteners should be fine for regular use.
Ceramic hair straighteners
Ceramic hair straighteners are the most popular and most recommended type of hair straightener, both for quality of results and price. Ceramic hair straighteners are good for almost any type of hair from curly hair to fine hair or chemically treated and even damaged hair. They heat up quicker than ordinary straighteners and stay hotter for longer. Ceramic hair straighteners will also stop frizz and leave hair silky smooth and shiny. If you want a hair straightener that you can use on a daily basis that wont damage your hair then ceramic straighteners are for you.
Titanium hair straighteners
New to the market are titanium hair straighteners. These hair straighteners are usually the most expensive but are worth the money if you plan to use them on a regular basis. They heat up extremely fast and should last longer than most hair straighteners.
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