The hair salons of the past were so much better than today’s!

The hairdresser knew the best gossip in the neighbourhood and took their time to make your experience leisurely, local and lovely.
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The hairdresser knew the best gossip in the neighbourhood and took their time to make your experience leisurely, local and lovely.

Back then you knew your hairdresser on a first name basis, and went to the same salon for years, even decades.

Hair torture was different to the bleach and bob styles of today. Everyone wanted soft, elegant or tight curls in the 50s and early 60s, gradually growing it longer as the fashion of the day evolved in the later 60s and 70. From the 70s when it first arrived, colour became a huge part of the salon visit. Curls and later, colours would set under the large dome-like dryers for hours, and a visit was not reserved for once every 12 weeks like it is today. For hours women would wait for the velcro curlers and the warm air of an overhead, rigid-hood hair dryer to do their magic in setting curls and colour into place, and many would go weekly or at the longest, monthly.

Whilst this video is about the 50s, many similarities in later years could still be enjoyed in the salons in our community. It shows how very seriously a trip to the salon was taken:

When you sat at the dryer you would often be able to catch up on gossip, especially if you were placed next to someone you knew.

When it was all over you could find you had been warmed, gossiped and scorched into a new ‘do that, with the exception of a minor scalp burn from perming solutions or bleach, felt absolutely wonderful.

Women complimented their hairdresser visits with a new type of hairdryer in the 60s, 70s that was far from the handheld device of today, a “bonnet dryer”.  The bonnet dryer was introduced to consumers in 1951. This type of dryer worked by having the dryer, usually in a small portable box, connected to a tube that went into a bonnet with holes in it that could be placed on top of a person’s head. This worked by giving an even amount of heat to the whole head at once. This video below is sure to give you a smile as you see the home-version of the fixed bonnet hairdryer introduced by Sunbeam.

By the 1970s, hairdryers were safe and powerful enough to be successfully mass marketed as a convenient self-styling device, and hairstylists were also using them, inventing new hairstyles to take advantage of the “new” technology. Combining the casual freedom of the 60s with the hedonistic 70s into a signature hairstyle was easy with the blow dryer, and women got swept away by the tousled “wings” of the era.

The Lady Schick Speed Styler ad from the 70s will certainly put a smile on your face. This was true revolution in hair styling that so many today took for granted.

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Image: Pinterest

And what about perms? Perms were a massive part of every young person’s life and these pictures will bring back a load of memories. The afro perm kicked off in our world in the 70s. Shaggy layered cuts combined with tight curled perms gave everyone the awesome look of the era – fluffy!

Then came a more structured approach with Farah Fawcett and the “body wave” everyone wanted for a decade. Layers and body waves combined as we headed for the 80s with long hair and spiral curled perms. The nostalgia just keep on rolling as you go back in time through magnificent memories of curls.


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Vintage perm machine


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Do you remember the salons of yesteryear fondly? What styles did you have?