Erica Feldman used two heated metal rods to straighten her hair, and that of anyone else who would let her. Women then realized they could change the style of their hair, 'the flood gates were opened'.
First Curling Irons
There aren't any pictures or descriptions available of the first curling irons because they were used by Babylonian and Assyrian men, and by Persian nobles.
Date - 2000 BC to 700 BC
Charles L. Nessler, a German hairdresser, applied a borax paste to hair and curled it with an iron, creating permanent waves. This perm took twelve hours to do and costed a lot of money.
Patented Straightening Iron
A hair straightener, consisting of two flat irons that are heated and pressed together, was patented by Isaac K. Shero. This design was refined and combined with previous efforts into a two-plated, hinged, heated iron by Scottish heiress Lady Jennifer Bell Schofield in 1912.
These changes to the previous heated rod system were improvements because it was easier to straighten hair without worrying if the rods were in the right place.
Eugene Sutter's Dryer.
Eugene Sutter adapted Nessler's idea, creating a dryer, which contained twenty heaters, to make waves more efficiently.
Sutter was followed by Gaston Boudou who modified Sutter's dryer, and invented an automatic roller. These modifications made it easier to perm your hair.
Rambaud's Perming System
A beautician from Paris, Rambaud, perfected a system of curling and drying permed hair for softer, looser curls by using and electric hair dryer invented by the Racine Universal Motor Company of Racine, Wisconsin. This made it easier still, and more efficient, and more in-style to get a perm.
Eugene Schueller, of L'Oreal laborotories, combined the action of thioglycolic acid with hydrogen peroxide to produce the first cold permanent wave. This was cheaper and faster than the previous hot process. To control the ammount of curl, different sized rods were used for rolling. This was a more convenient way to perm hair; it was cheaper, faster, and wouldn't burn your scalp.
The First Electric Curling Irons
Rene Lelievre and Roger Lemoine invented an electric curling iron (in related developments).
This was an improvement in the technology of curling irons because the temperature of the curling iron could be controlled, and it was less likely to singe your hair or burn your head.
No photo available.
Cold Perm Improved
The cold perm process was advanced when L'Oreal laborotories intoduced a polymer hair spray to serve as an invisible net.
Today's Straightening Irons
The straightening irons of today are similar to that of Lady Jennifer Bell Schofield's, but they're electrically heated, have ceramic plates, and the temperature is easily controllable. The quality of today's straighteners also vary, depending on the price you are willing to spend on a straightener. Most straightners' plates are made of aluminum, and coated with ceramic (the straighteners that are made fully of ceramic don't lose their coating, and do less damage to hair).