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January 7, 1939


Author Affiliations

New York

From Harlem Hospital.

JAMA. 1939;112(1):36-37. doi:10.1001/jama.1939.62800010001009

Consistent with the profession's eternal preoccupation with sordid materialism is the fact that there has been no literature on the subject of hair straighteners. A reasonably careful search, including perusal of the Surgeon General's Catalogue, the Quarterly Cumulative Index Medicus and Chemical Abstracts, demonstrates that, certainly for many years back, this phase of esthetics has been neglected. In some very incidental paragraphs it has been mentioned,1 to be sure, that materials such as gum tragacanth might impose on the hair a brute force, gravitational kind of rectilinearity. But, while medical science slept, cosmeticians have pushed the borders of their own domain back far beyond this mucilaginous stage.

HISTORICAL  Chemical hair straighteners, according to the best available authorities, began to evolve toward 1910. Their origin is obscure, probably indeterminable. For a long time Negro women had been successfully straightening their tresses with a grease and hot comb mechanism, but for