The most basic hair care tools are combs and brushes
A comb is a device made of solid material, generally flat, always toothed, and is used in hair care for straightening and cleaning hair or other fibers. Combs are among the oldest tools found by archaeologists, having been discovered in very refined forms from settlements dating back to 5000 years ago in Persia. The first combs were handcrafted from wood and / animal bone.
As early as 5500 B.C. the ancient Egyptians carved out combs among other remnants of the emerging cultures. In ancient China, combs were worn as hair accessories that reflected one’s social status.
Features of Combs
In the earliest incarnation, the comb was carved from wood and, sometimes, bone. Tortoiseshell and ivory were common high-fashion combs, but concerns for animals’ rights shifted to predominantly wooden and plastic combs. General use combs in beauty salons, barbershops, and bathrooms are most commonly made from plastic, while specialty combs and high-end combs can be made from wood, wood resins, bakelite, steel, gold, and platinum. All combs have teeth, but the size and spacing of the teeth vary by comb. Additionally, combs may have a small thin pointed handle referred to as “rat tail” used for parting hair.
Evidence such as portraits, paintings, and sculptures show that Ancient Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians not only styled but carefully curled, designed, and braided their hair, proving that they must have used some form of the hairbrush. Early brushes used natural materials such as animal hair, porcupine quills, shells, flint, and bones, and handles were usually made from wood, copper, or bronze. Paintbrushes are believed to have been used as long as 2.5 million years ago and were later adapted to be used on hair. Excavations from Egyptian tombs have unearthed combs, brushes, and mirrors. Documents from the Vikings have shown that men cared for their hair by using combs and brushes.
William Kent began manufacturing brushes in England in 1777. His handmade brushes featured bristles that were stitched into the brush by hand (called “hand drawing” or “long holing”) and domed bristles. It took as many as 12 people to make some models. Kent Brushes is one of the oldest companies in the United Kingdom, and now makes more than 250 different kinds of brushes.
Mason Pearson Brushes
In 1885, another English businessman, Mason Pearson, invented the automatic brush-boring machine to speed the process of brush making. He also invented the pneumatic rubber cushioned hairbrush the same year. Today, these brushes are considered some of the best on the market because they clean the hair, stimulate the scalp by increasing blood flow to the roots, and spread natural oils down the length of the hair, making it shinier.
Hair Brushes Developments in the United States
The earliest U.S. patent for a hairbrush was by Hugh Rock in 1854 and featured a metal handle with an ornamental design with scalloped edges. Brushes like this one were popular gifts (especially as part of a set with a comb and mirror) for new brides as well as new babies. Samuel Firey patented a brush with elastic wire teeth and natural bristles in 1870. In 1898, Lyda Newman patented a brush with a detachable handle and air chambers for ventilation.
The Fuller Brush Co.
Alfred Fuller started the Fuller Brush Company in 1906. At the age of 18, he moved from Nova Scotia to Boston and went to work selling brushes for another company. Unsatisfied with the product he was peddling as well as the selling techniques, he thought he could do better. He began making hairbrushes, as well as home cleaning brushes and selling them door to door, and he soon had a million-dollar business.
The Fuller Brush Man was a well-known pop culture icon, and Walt Disney even cast Donald Duck as one in an animated film.
In ancient times, hairstyling was a privilege reserved for only the wealthy. This changed slowly over time so that now, everyone cares well for his or her hair. For this reason, cheaper combs and brushes were needed. Manufacturers had to look for less expensive materials than solid wood and animal hair. Today, most people use brushes with plastic handles and nylon bristles, but hair-care professionals insist that natural fibers (though more expensive) are still best for your hair. Many modern brushes feature padded handles for easy gripping and holes for ventilation, to make blow-drying faster and more efficient. The flat or paddle-style brush was common in early designs, but now round brushes are especially popular for women hairstyles
The purpose of these brushes is more useful to straighten and untangle hair. Certain varieties of hairbrushes are however designed to brush the scalp itself free of material such as dead skin (dandruff) and to invigorate the skin of the scalp. This increased circulation is very beneficial to overall scalp health and maintaining hair attachment.