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A rat tail comb is a specially-shaped hair styling item with a comb on one end and a sectioning tool on the other. The sectioning tool looks like a rat's tail that has been straightened, hence the name. It is primarily used for sectioning, parting, and styling the hair. Hair stylists also use it for teasing and backcombing, and it is most commonly used for coloring and chemical treatments.
The main portion of this hairstyling tool is a very fine-toothed comb with little space between the teeth. Unlike other combs, which have either no handle or a straight handle, the end of this type is thin and comes to a point at the bottom. Standard rat tail combs range from 8 inches (20.32 centimeters) to 10 inches (25.4 centimeters) in total length.
One of the most popular uses of a rat tail comb is its ability to section the hair precisely. The end of the comb can be used to separate and pull out portions of the hair, making blow drying and styling easier. The comb is also popular for creating straight, perfect parts in the hair; it can be used to line up a part directly in the center of the head or off the side. The comb can also make it easier to pull back the crown of the hair exactly.
The rat tail comb is commonly used with a flat iron or curling iron to style the hair. The point end of the comb can be used to pull sections out of clipped up hair for styling, while the comb itself can be used to remove any tangles and smooth hair before using a heat styling appliance. This style of comb can help to make heat styling easier, quicker, and able to provide better results.
Perhaps one of the most well-known uses of this type of comb is teasing or backcombing. The lack of space between the teeth of the comb make it possible to gently push the underside of a section of hair towards the scalp, providing volume. This is commonly done at the crown of the head, especially on those with fine hair. The comb can also be used to increase volume in pony tails or other up-dos.
While the rat tail comb is used widely at home, it is a staple in salons. The sectioning portion of the comb is used for chemical treatments and color to ensure the mixtures coats the hair evenly. The ability of the comb to section off very tiny portions of hair also make it an excellent tool for the application of hair extensions. The comb can be used to pull sections of hair through attachment tubes or to create braids for sewn-in extensions.