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A bone comb is a type of comb crafted from either bone or horn. Such combs were among the earliest personal grooming implements crafted by humans and still offer some concrete benefits. This type of comb is especially likely to appeal to consumers who are interested in historical reenactment and to those who enjoy collecting unique arts and crafts objects.
Archaeologists have identified several types of bone comb that date back thousands of years. A comb can be carved fairly easily from a piece of animal bone or antler. A flat piece of material was prepared, which was essentially a comb blank. Then small grooves were cut in parallel to form the teeth of the comb, and in some cases, decorative elements were then added. Combs made of bone were practical and extremely common for thousands of years.
Bone and horn remained the standard materials for comb construction up until the advent of plastics in the 20th century. The mass production of inexpensive plastic combs led to their widespread adoption in place of bone combs. A bone comb may still be a better choice for certain consumers, however.
Long hair and hair that is prone to dryness or splitting may benefit from the use of a bone comb. Bone and horn both work with the natural oils present in hair, spreading them around instead of leeching them from the hair. Unlike plastic, which is impervious to natural oils, bone will absorb and re-distribute them more evenly throughout the hair. This process leads, over time, to stronger, healthier hair.
Combs made from bone are often much more visually appealing than their counterparts made from utilitarian plastic or metal. Bone is a natural material, and, as a result, no two bone combs will ever look quite alike. Each comb will possess a unique pattern and appearance, which some consumers may appreciate. Combs made from different types of horn and bone can possess unique and distinctive appearances.
A bone comb may also be decorated or carved. This practice was common in ancient times, when the wealthy would comb or decorate their hair with ornate combs of bone or ivory that were covered with elegant miniature carvings. Some artisans continue these practices. A hand-carved ornamental bone comb is not inexpensive, and a typical consumer might opt to treat one as a display piece rather than as a utilitarian grooming aid.
People interested in historical reenactment of any period before the modern era might wish to purchase bone combs as well. Simple bone combs in antique styles are available from major retailers. More unique, ornamental or primitive examples can often be purchased directly from the artisans who carve them.