The curling iron is a standard styling tool that has been used for centuries. Today, electric versions make the job of curling hair easy and fast. However, who invented the curling iron?
That’s a question many people have asked themselves at some point. Unfortunately, no one can claim credit for creating this popular hair tool. Several inventors working around the same time likely came up with the same idea independently without even knowing who had previously made something similar.
The earliest known reference to heated irons dates back hundreds of years ago. Documentation suggests that Catherine de Medici ordered custom irons shaped like sticks to be made to curl her long locks so she could look like a queen.
So, Who Invented The Curling Iron?
Although who invented the curling iron is a difficult question to answer, we can look into who first patented it:
Sir Hiram Maxim
Sir Hiram Maxim invented the curling iron and patented it on August 21, 1866. The curling iron was invented in the 19th century, but hairstyling was practiced for almost 2,000 years.
The first ladies’ hair salon was founded in the 1600s, much to the annoyance of church leaders who thought that “male involvement in a female’s private toilette highly indecent.”
The first successful salon for women was opened in Paris, France, by a man named Marcel Grateau in 1872. His distinctive style, known as the Marcel wave, was “a style and beauty that is radically distinct from all other types of hair-dressing.” He invented his curling iron in 1890, long before the actual invention of the curling iron.
These tongs, according to folklore, would often get “quite unbearably warm,” burning the hair. Yet still failing to keep the temperature steady because if they were used when too cold, the hair wouldn’t “set.” Regardless, the style’s popularity has become entrenched in history and is readily recognized as part of early 20th-century fashion.
Types of curling irons
Electric curling irons are the most popular type, but they are not new inventions.
Although who invented the curling iron is a question with no definite answer, it’s pretty clear that this styling tool has been around for quite some time! And it evolved quite a bit.
The most popular types of modern curling irons today are:
1) Tapered barrel curling iron
2) Vented barrel curling iron
3) Multi-directional barrel curling iron
4) Curving wand or tongs
5) Barrel curling iron with a clamp
6) Automatic rotating curling iron.
The names give away the features of each tool, but here is a quick rundown.
Tapered barrel curling iron
A tapered barrel curler creates curls that are tighter at the ends and more elongated toward the middle of the strand. Tapered barrel curling irons are great for adding more volume and can add pattern to the curls, depending on the size of the barrel.
Vented barrel curling iron
Vented barrel curling irons have holes or vents in the clamp plates so that some of your hair is exposed and free from being squashed by the clamp. These curling irons create beautiful bouncy curls or waves that look like they were achieved at a salon.
Multi-directional barrel curling iron
A multi-directional barrel creates curls that start small at one end of your strand and get more prominent toward the end you’re grabbing to curl. This wand type is perfect for creating ringlets where each curl starts tight and gets bigger.
Curving wand or tongs
The curling iron has evolved into many different types of styling tools. Still, the most popular is the curling wand which resembles tongs, giving it its name. Curling wands cause minor damage to your hair than an actual curling iron because you hold them at one end and don’t wrap your strands around anything hot. These styles are perfect for creating beachy waves.
Barrel curling iron with a clamp
A barrel curling iron has a clamp that you slide up your hair strand to curl it. The clamp wraps around the hair and is pulled tight. Then the hair is wound around the barrel of the curling iron.
Automatic rotating curling iron
The automatic rotating curling iron rotates on its own when you hold down a button, thus allowing you to create effortless curls without too much effort. These are perfect for achieving voluminous waves in your strands with little or no heat damage.
Who invented the curling iron might never actually be discovered. But we can thank these inventors (and more!) who gave us that extra step to help us achieve beautiful hairstyles in the comfort of our own homes!
Just make sure to use your curling iron safely!
There you have it. Now you know who invented the curling iron! Next time you use it, thank the inventors who came up with this genius tool.
If you are interested to find out who invented other beauty items, check out our other articles on the Who Invented page!