image

Blast from the past: 7 iconic hair gadgets that defined eras

When perusing old photos, if there’s one thing that’s a dead giveaway as to which era you’re looking at, it’s the hair.

Farrah Fawcett-esque waves? That’ll be the Seventies. Crimped locks? You’re looking at the Nineties. A shiny sheet of flattened hair? It’s got to be the Noughties.

pop band Girls Aloud in 2002

Pop band Girls Aloud in 2002, when hair straighteners were all the rage

And to thank for those hairdos? In part, they’re all due to the technological breakthroughs of the time, which brought heated hair gadgets into the home.

As far back as the Twenties, we’ve been using tools to tame and enhance our tresses, and today’s iterations are getting ever more advanced.

Here, we look back at seven grooming gadgets that have changed hair-story…

1. Curling tongs
A true icon in hairdressing history, Marcel Grateau invented one of the earliest curling tongs, way back in 1872. He used them to create his signature style, the ‘Marcel wave’, which was hugely popular at the time.

The device, however, had room for improvement. The scissor-like metal tongs were heated over a fire but with no way to accurately regulate the temperature, they often burned hair.

Electric curling tongs started to be sold in the late 1950s and have remained popular ever since, although hair fashions have changed, with today’s ceramic barrel tongs used to create ‘beachy’ waves rather than tight curls.

Antique curling tongs

Antique curling tongs


2. Hood hairdryers
The first mechanical hair drying device was introduced in a French salon in 1888 by a man called Alexander Godefroy. The hood style dryer was powered by a gas stove but it wasn’t a great success.

It wasn’t until the 1950s that electric ‘bonnet’ dryers became widespread. Large rigid plastic helmets were common in salons, while soft shower cap-styles with portable heating units were sold for home use.

a woman under a hood hair dryer in the 1960's

A woman under a hood hairdryer in the 1960s


3. Handheld hairdryers
Remaining the quintessential hair styling gadget to this day, a hairdryer uses a simple mechanism – a heated coil and a fan – to increase the speed of water evaporation.

The earliest handheld hairdryers were invented in the 1920s, their heavy metal cases making them unwieldy and the offering only 100 watts of power compared to today’s 2000.

An antique hairdryer

An antique hairdryer


4. Heated rollers
Solomon Harper is the man credited with inventing electrically heated hair rollers, in 1930, but they really took off in the Sixties.

A weekly session with the rollers ensured a perfectly coiffed ‘do that stayed put for seven days.

An antique heated roller set

An vintage heated roller set


5. Crimpers
Used to create ultra fine, zig-zag waves on straight hair, the crimping iron was invented in 1972 and reached peak popularity in the mid-Eighties.

Crimping fell out of fashion but has had something of a resurgence in recent years, with GHD bringing out a modern day version, called the Contour, in 2017.

GHD Contour Professional Crimper

GHD Contour Professional Crimper


6. Straighteners
GHD is far more famous, of course, for a device that eradicates even the slightest hint of a kink.

Founded in 2001, the company bought the rights to a South Korean straightening iron and sparked a global phenomenon as the trend for poker-straight hair took hold.

The history of hair straightening actually goes back much further, to the 1870s when Marcel Grateau used heated rods to banish waves, but the Noughties will always be remembered as the heyday of the straightener.

A GHD Straightener from 2007

A GHD Straightener from 2007


7. High-tech hairdryers
In general, hair dryers haven’t evolved much in the last 20 years, apart from getting more powerful, lighter and quieter, but there is one notable exception.

Dyson, the company famous for vacuum cleaners, launched in 2016 its Supersonic Hair Dryer, which uses the brand’s patented airflow principles and a digital motor to, it promises, dry hair faster without damaging it. But at £300 a pop, this high-tech gadget has yet to become a household essential.

Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer

Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer

The following two tabs change content below.

The Press Association

News from the Press Association - the national news agency for the UK and Ireland

Leave a Comment!

Not a member?

You need to be a member to interact with Silversurfers. Joining is free and simple to do. Click the button below to join today!

Click here if you have forgotten your password

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!