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Discover the Fascinating History of the Curling Iron and How It’s Played a Role in Beauty Over the Years

You use one every day, and some people just can’t live without it. It’s not your car or cell phone – it’s your curling iron! You use it to crimp, curl, and straighten, but did you ever wonder who invented this essential hair styling tool? The answer is a lot more complicated than you think.

So, sit back in the salon chair and take a hot minute to read the history of the curling iron. Plus, find out how you can take charge of your future at our cosmetology school in Wichita, Kansas.

Who Really Invented the Curling Iron?

We actually don’t know who you can truly credit for the creation of the curling iron. What we know is that people have been using hot metal curling tongs to style their hair for at least 6,000 years. Assyrians, Babylonians, Egyptians, and Persians used to curl their beards, hair, and wigs into ornate styles. Tongs were made of iron or bronze and heated over a fire.

There were many burned beards, because the temperature was difficult to control. That didn’t stop our forefathers from using curls as a way to show off their wealth and status, because only nobility had access to curling tongs.

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We know you like it hot, but the ideal temperature to curl your hair is between 200 and 300 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s because your hair spends time on the curling iron rod in order to take shape. You can kick your flat iron up a notch and set it between 350 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Keep in mind that the temperature setting on your heated styling tool depends on your hair type. Ask someone who has cosmetology training to help you determine how hot you should make your curling iron or flat iron.

Wave In the Curls With Marcel Grateau

Frenchman Marcel Grateau is known as the official inventor of the modern curling tong. In 1872, he fashioned the “Marcel Wave” as a new and trendy hairstyle that offered long-lasting curls. They looked very similar to the curling tongs used by ancient civilizations, but the size of the barrel varied from one tong to another.

Curling tongs were heated on a rectangular gas burner with gas flame. In order to test if the tongs were too hot, a stylist would touch paper to the heated tongs. If the paper turned slightly brown, then they were at the right temperature. However, heat was still difficult to control, and resulted in many accidents and burned hair.

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The Marcel Wave is still a great way to achieve old Hollywood glamor. Don’t worry, you don’t have to travel back in time or fire up the stove to get this silver screen style. Undulating curling irons are a great way to shape your hair. They consist of two curved irons that create an “S” pattern, which results in irresistible waves.

Becoming a cosmetologist means getting familiar with tools of the trade. If you’re interested in learning more about how to professionally use a curling iron, contact Eric Fisher Academy and speak to our admissions department about enrolling in our cosmetology school near you.

It’s Electric – and Much Better for Your Hair

The curling iron didn’t get a real upgrade until the late 1950s. Two Frenchmen named Rene Lelievre and Roger Lamoine invented the electric curling iron in 1959, but it only had one barrel size. This meant everyone had the same curls and the same hairstyles. Thankfully, several sizes of curling iron barrels were introduced in 1965 to create custom looks.

Curling irons weren’t just being used to shape curls in the 1960s, they were used to create volume, too. Beehives and big bouffants were all the rage and were styled with a curling iron.

Finally, Theora Stephens invented a curling iron with heat control setting and a spring closing clamp for an easier way to curl your hair.

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Cosmetologists actually still prefer to use curling irons that don’t have a spring. It allows their fingers to be extra nimble when curling your hair, that’s because certain hair styles require specific curling techniques.

For instance, if you want tight, bouncy curls, it’s best to roll your curling iron on the base of your hair. What does on-base, half-base, and off-base mean when it comes to curling your hair? Contact Eric Fisher Academy to start cosmetology training, where you’ll learn all about these techniques!

These Aren’t Your Mothers Curling Irons

The cheap metal in the curling irons from the 80s is long gone, and high-quality irons are made with advanced materials like ceramic, nano-silver, titanium, or tourmaline. These materials help spread heat evenly throughout the curling rod, and smooth your hair out, which results in more defined curls and less damaged hair.

Curling iron sales are expected to pass the $4.7 billion mark in the next few years, because new technology offers digitally precise heat and better protection for your hair. Plus, social media influencers are embracing the fun and natural movement of curls and coils, which only makes these heated styling tools more in-demand.

Looking for More Cool Tips From Our Cosmetology School?

Talk to our admissions department at Eric Fisher Academy, where we can help you find your passion and give you the tools to build a fascinating career in cosmetology school. Learn classic skills that are tried and true and advanced techniques that have just hit the scene.

If curling irons are too hot to handle, ask us about our esthetician school, where you can learn how to provide clients with skin care services. To reshape your future, contact us at (316) 440-4782 or send us a message online to learn how you can enroll in one of our programs. Hurry! Cosmetology training starts soon!