August 13, 2013

A Brief, Interesting History of the Hair Dryer

One of the benefits of home appliances is that they not only make our lives easier, they also keep us looking our best, too.  Most women today have never had to experience what life was like before this home appliance revolutionized the way women washed and dried their hair.

Although a hair-drying device was first invented in the late 1880s in which one hooked up a heater to a dome-like device that would go around a woman’s head, there was no forced hot air like we know today. The hand-held hair dryer didn’t come around until about 1926.

As the New York Times article notes, washing your hair on a daily basis wasn’t very common until this gadget came along:

“‘What you used to do is you would sit in front of a heat source or outside in the sun and comb or brush your hair until it was dry,” says Rachel Maines, a visiting scholar at Cornell University who studies the history of technology. “If you had long hair, you would wash it once a week, if you did it that often. Having clean, shiny, fluffy hair — that’s a 20th-century thing.”

The article also has a brief interview with a British lady who collects antique hairdryers.

If you want to take a walk down Memory Lane, here are two really great commercials for a 1965 commercial for a Lady Sunbeam Jet Set Hair Dryer and a 1965 commercial for a table-top GE hairdryer.  

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