Hontsuge combs for beautiful hair, used for both daily care and fashion.
The Japanese have been using tsuge (boxwood) combs since ancient times. Even today, it is commonly seen in the worlds of Kabuki, Japanese dance, and sumo wrestling, where Japanese hair is tied up. Perhaps because of this, some imagine that tsuge combs are used exclusively for Japanese hairstyling, but this is not correct.
Yuzu Saito of YONOYA KUSHIHO, a store specializing in Japanese boxwood combs, states, “Tsuge combs have a beautifying effect on one’s hair. That is why I encourage people to use it in their daily hair care, regardless of hairstyle.” So, how are tsuge combs so effective in maintaining beautiful hair?
First, let me explain the characteristics of hontsuge (a Japanese boxwood from Satsuma), the wood used to make tsuge combs. Hontsuge is both hard and tough (yet flexible), which makes it ideal for combs.
When hair is combed properly with a hontsuge comb, its hardness and grip serve to condition the hair cuticles, leaving each strand silky and shiny. In addition, natural wooden combs are not generally subject to static electricity, and among them, hontsuge is reputedly the most resistant to static electricity, which can cause hair tangling, split ends, and breakage. Thus, another major benefit of Japanese boxwood combs is that they do not damage one’s hair. While hontsuge is distributed across the warmer areas of western Japan, Yonoya only uses “Satsuma tsuge” from Ibusuki in Kagoshima Prefecture.
Once the wood is selected, the next step is the finishing process, in which the craftsman prepares the teeth of the comb by hand. After the wood is cut into the shape of a comb, the teeth stems and tips – which come into contact with the hair and scalp – are smoothed off.
The smoothing tools are made from a plant called tokusa (scouring rush), which is boiled and dried. The gaps between the teeth and the tips are smoothed off in order to gently “rub” the scalp and hair where it touches the scalp. This not only prevents hair damage, but also massages the scalp, which improves blood circulation, and in turn helps prevent hair loss and thinning.
Furthermore, infusing the finished comb in camellia oil is another secret to its beautifying effect.
“With each stroke of the comb, its oil content gradually permeates your hair and scalp, replenishing moisture and creating an effect that protects your hair from drying out and flakiness. Thus, continued use of a boxwood comb ensures that your hair becomes naturally healthy and silky.”
Although many people try various hair care products, sometimes the simple act of combing may be putting a strain on their hair. However, if your hair is in good condition thanks to the simple daily routine of combing it with a tsuge comb, the whole process is not only easy, but also leaves you feeling relaxed and happier.
We asked her to recommend some hair accessories made of hontsuge, which is also good for hair health, for the coming season.
Hontsuge, single-pin, ginkgo arabesque hairpin
This hairpin is recommended when you put your hair up high to match the turtlenecks that are fashionable in fall and winter. Although a little small, regardless of whether inserted at an angle or from the side, the shape and pattern will stand out and its cute aesthetic makes it very versatile.
Hontsuge, karakusa (foliage scroll)-patterned stick clasp.
The somewhat exotic look of these stick clasps is perfect for dressing up and weddings. They also go well with sheer blouses and knit fabrics, making them ideal for the party season.
Hontsuge lacquer-wiped hair ornament
When worn, the colors are soft and muted, so even those with short hair can wear them as a fashion statement.
Hontsuge single-pin fan-shaped hairpin adorned with carved hemp leaves
This is a new product created in collaboration with a skilled Kamakura-style carver. The Kamakura carving style is simple, strong, and warm. The warmth of the satsuma-tsuge boxwood becomes increasingly evident with use.
As the hot and humid summer comes to an end, the air gradually becomes drier, and the temperature drops, the coming season is enhanced with luscious hair and a seasonal fashion sense replete with hontsuge (Japanese boxwood) combs and hair accessories.