Hair straightener (flat iron, straightening iron) is an electrical appliance for hair straightening. It consists of two metal or ceramic plates, which destroy the hydrogen bonds in hair’s structure through heat, and thereby enable it to become straight and smooth.
The flat iron is a result of the centuries-old desire of women to have perfectly straight hair, like the ancient Egyptians. The first evidence of such styling procedure dates from 1872, when by the pressing and sliding of two hot metal rods, the Frenchman Marcel Grateau (the same person who invented the curling iron), achieved the desired straightening of hair.
In 1909 Isaac Shero patented the first hair straightener, consisting of two metal plates, which were heated and pressed together. The greatest merit for the invention, however, is attributed to the Scottish heiress Lady Jennifer Bell Skotfild, who combined the ideas of Grateau and Chereau in a new hair straightening device, more similar to the modern ones.
Almost at the same time, another device for hair straightening – a hot comb, was patented. Because of its popularity among African-American population, however, it caused interracial conflicts. In the following years, the hair straightening methods continued to evolve and chemical formulas prolonging the effect appeared.
Today, the flat iron is among the most effective and easy methods for hair straightening. are Devices with ceramic coating are preferred, not only because they are fast-heating, but also because they are much gentler to the hair. Most of the straightening irons have a variety of attachments for additional effects, like curls, waves and the so-called "waffles".