Vintage: Beauty Salons and Early Hair Dryers (1920s-1940s)

Vintage: Beauty Salons and Early Hair Dryers (1920s-1940s)

In 1890, French stylist Alexandre-Ferdinand Godefroy devised a contraption combining a seat with a hood connected to a gas stove. A client would sit underneath the hood while a hand crank blew hot air from the stove over her hair.

Godefroy’s hair hood dryer was widely copied and iterated upon, and became a staple of hair salons. Variants included features such as articulable nozzles and heated coils in lieu of a single helmet.

The first patent for a handheld hair dryer was granted in 1911. Early portable dryers had a few problems, though — they were heavy, produced air barely warmer than room temperature, and had an irritating habit of electrocuting users.


1930 Image: Imagno/Austrian Archives/Getty Images


1930 A woman demonstrates a hair-steaming apparatus at the Hairdressing Exhibition in London. Image: IMAGNO/Austrian Archives/Getty Images


1937 A hair salon in Cannes, France. Image: IMAGNO/Austrian Archives/Getty Images


1948 A woman uses a heat lamp and hairdryer made of hot glass. Image: Ralph Royle/Pix Inc./The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images


1947 Marjorie McWeeney dries her hair with her son Mark at a hair dresser in New York. Image: Nina Leen/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images


1933 A hair salon in Moscow, Russia. Image: Emil Strassberg/ullstein bild/Getty Images


c. 1935 A beautician attaches the tubes and pads of a hair treatment machine to a man’s scalp as he reads a paper. Image: Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS


c. 1928 Image: Corbis


1929 A stylist uses a freestanding dryer to blow dry a client’s hair with controlled precision at the Hairdressing Fair of Fashion in London. Image: Puttnam /Topical Press Agency/Getty Images


1929 Image: Puttnam /Topical Press Agency/Getty Images


Nov. 5, 1930 A woman tries a new hair drying machine at the Hairdressing Fashion Fair in London. Image: Popperfoto/Getty Images


Sept. 22, 1932 A woman tries out a Supreme Pedestal hairdryer at the Hairdressing Exhibition in London. Image: Miller/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images


1928 A woman sits under a chrome-plated hair dryer. Image: Keystone-France/Getty Images