General Posts

This is a large but mostly ignored market due primarily to the manufacturers and the professional Cosmetology industry.  The manufacturers, troche discount because they have not come up with any new innovative and practical methods or products directed in that area.  The Cosmetologist, medicine because they do not feature, promote and advertise this service to the same degree as they do other services they perform.  This is because they do not have any posters or other promotional material to use to promote this service.  The Cosmetologist depends on the manufacturers to supply such items, but because this market is all but ignored by the manufacturers, there are no promotional materials available for this purpose.


It is not quite clear where and when the hair pressing procedure began, but it actually began in Africa long before slavery in America.  For thousands of years Africans knew no other skin color or hair type other than their own.  Their hair enhancing tools was the specially fashioned comb (now known as the Afro comb).  They were designed to work on tight wooly hair.  They were constructed of carved wood or animal bones into the shape of a make shift comb.  Many hairstyles and designs denoted families and even whole tribes.


When the African slaves (there were slaves from other cultures, but they were referred to as “indentured servants” (people who were in dept or impoverished in their native country) who could eventually work off or buy their freedom) were brought to America, they brought their traditions with them.  The females were not allowed to groom themselves as they once did.  But they used their imagination and ingenuity and found new ways to style and enhance their hair.  Ironing of clothes was unknown to them in Africa; they found that this same method could be used to straighten their hair.  However they had to invent new ways for this to work on hair.  The answer was to take the original Afro comb and fashion it out of metal instead of wood or bones (this was the first pressing comb proto type).  The first innovated pressing comb was a dinner fork with a rag tied around the handle to prevent burning their hands.  The first pressing oil was lard or cooking grease to keep from scorching the hair, and give longevity to the straightened appearance plus a gleaming shine to the hair.


One of the reasons that the slaves (both male and female) wanted to straighten their hair was to in some way more resemble the appearance of the masters.  Many slaves thought that if they could some how mimic the appearance of the masters; this would give them more favor with them (this did not always workout as expected).  In old pictures that we see of slaves, the women is most always shown wearing a cloth “head wrap” the reason for this was that the head wrap served two purposes, 1. That by heating the cloth before applying helps to maintain the press. 2. It would hide the natural appearance when it was not straight.


In the early 1900s when the pressing comb and related products were commercially developed and popularized by a woman named Annie Malone who started the first Afro American owned Beauty School Chain called Poro College (Poro: a West African word meaning organization dedication and discipline) in Chicago, Indianapolis and St. Louis.  Malone did not invent the pressing comb but did popularize it in conjunction with her related products line, because the true originator is unknown.  She and her husband acquired a wealth of 14 million dollars during the course of their business empire.  She was the mentor and the inspiration for Madam C.J. Walker, who improved the pressing comb to be more affective on course kinky hair.  Walker was granted a patent for the improvements.  In the 1920s Malone and Walker’s mission was to develop and devise improved ways to style female Afro kinky hair with products designed for that purpose that replaced make shift methods from thick petrolatum and axle grease to control kinky hair.  Walker included the pressing comb in her innovative Shampoo Press and Curl kit that made her the first self made female millionaire in America, by using many of the innovation pioneered by Annie Malone, and improving of them.  Although the original concept has been improved, the basic design is still the same.  When commercial pressing oils were manufactured they were simply petrolatum mixed with mineral oil and fragrance added, they aided in giving longevity to the press by resisting moisture and it absorbed excessive heat and allowed for a smooth glide of the pressing comb through the hair.  In the 1950’s Johnson Products under the Ultra Sheen Cream Satan Press banner produced a pressing CREAM that gave a more natural non greasy appearance to the press.  Since that time there has been little or no real improvement on the Press & Curl service, mainly because most of the attention was drawn to hair relaxing and the Curly Perm.

\nYOU MUST BE AWARE OF THIS FACT!  That the Press & Curl is one element of professional Cosmetology that the Black cosmetologist own and control.  Other cultures can do relaxers and curly perms on Afro hair as well as any one.  But Press & Curl service is almost non existent to other cultures, mainly because of the correct use of the pressing comb and the artistic use of the stove heated Marcel iron. So Afro cosmetologist should take advantage of this fact and use it to increase their business and all it takes is to let their potential new patrons know that they can do this service.\n



The answer is NO for a number of reasons.  The pressing comb has been around for over a hundred years.  The flat iron became popular in the late 70s; however, this is not a good reason for the comparison.  The flat iron will smooth frizz and curls on most all hair.  The press comb is designed to surround the hair shaft with heat with the teeth as a precursor to the pressing with the back of the comb.  The flat iron (electric or stove heated) have two flat heated plates that through a combination of heat and pressure forcing the cuticle flat against the body of the hair shaft.  When pressing or flat ironing, it is best to use some form of moisturizer, leave in conditioner or light oil in order to allow for a smoother pull through.  This will also protect the hair from excessive heat and allow the hair to retain the straight look longer.


The pressing comb is best for tight curly and (so called) kinky hair, because the pre-treatment with the teeth will allow for an easier smoother transition.  An electric pressing comb or other electrically heated devises do not get hot enough for Afro natural hair, because this hair has a stronger and more resistant cuticle structure.



  1. I’m new to your blog and i really appreciate the nice posts and great layout.:.;,’

  2. Excellent post, I will be checking back regularly to look for updates.

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