Remembering the old days at the hair salon 119



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The centre of the universe for many women, the hairdresser knew the greatest 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 neighbourhood insight… especially if you were placed next to someone you knew for the hours of chitter chatter.

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.

Remember the hair salon days from your youth and early years? How significant was the hairdryer?


What was the most memorable of your early hair dryers?  And do you remember the salons of yesteryear fondly? 


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Images: Pinterest

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. How I wish bonnet dryers were still available. I still use curlers and my arm gets so tired holding a modern hair dryer for half an hour and the heat can’t be regulated enough – it gets too hot.

  2. yes I had my hairdone every thursday without fail

    1 REPLY
    • Isn’t that funny Carol. I was just thinking, my mum would go every Thursday too no matter how broke we were it was an essential. 🙂

  3. Yes sure do the day I was married there was a blackout s o myself 3 bridesmaids were in a bit of a fluster luckily wedding was 345 just made it

  4. My mum treated me every week back then. I am now 64. There were 6 of us, me being the eldest. I helped her with the little ones.

  5. I had a Sunbeam hairdryer up until a couple of years ago & hot rollers. Thank heavens for the blow dryer I hated sitting under the oldstyle ones. I had one hairdresser for 16 years & now have a lovely girl who after several years in a shop is now working from home & I continue to see her as she is a brilliant cutter of my short easy style & you don’t change when you are very happy with your hairdresser!

  6. I only went to the hair dresser for a cut. I had a bonnet dryer until the blower. Same now I blow dry and colour my hair. But getting it done at the salon is a great social time for some and that’s great.

  7. I went thirty years colouring and cutting my own hair – have a brilliant guy doing my hair now – we show up at all the same concerts and theatre shows!

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