What Is a Hot Comb?

Felicia Dye

A hot comb is a hair care implement that is sometimes referred to as a straightening comb. It is heated and used to straighten the hair from the roots. Some hot combs are placed directly on a heat source, and others are electrically heated. The portion that comes into contact with the hair is generally made of metal, and the handle is commonly made of wood but may be made of another heat-resistant material. When using these implements, individuals should exercise caution to avoid burning their hair or skin.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Straightening combs are mostly used by individuals with coarse or unprocessed hair. For example, it is common for African Americans to chemically process their hair to make it smoother, straighter, and more manageable. A hot comb is a hair care implement that may be used between processing times to maintain these results. It may also be used by those individuals who prefer not to use such chemicals.

The hot comb is called so because it appears much like an ordinary comb, although it is generally heavier. The teeth of the comb are usually metal, and they must be hot to produce the desired results. Some hot combs are placed directly on a heat source, such as the flame of a gas stove, or the implements may be electric and require a power source. Most professionals tend to prefer the direct heat source models.

Once the hot comb is heated, the hair is usually parted into small sections. A type of moisturizer may be applied to the dry hair. The hot comb is then moved through each small section beginning from the roots. Individuals who have experience using these implements may be able to produce curls and flipped ends, though the most common goal is straightening. After all of the hair has been combed with this implement, it should lay flatter to the head than it previously did and may appear longer since the kinks and curls have been removed.

These hair implements should be used with caution because adverse effects can be experienced from use. One problem that commonly arises is singed hair due to overheating the hot comb. This is most common with the direct heat models. Another common problem are skin burns. These can result from accidental contact between the hot comb and the skin or from the steam generated if the hair is damp or there is too much moisturizer on it.

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