History | Weird | Vintage

Photos Of Early Hair Dryers Prove The Beauty Salon Has Changed A Lot Over 100 Years

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The quest for beauty drives us to do some really crazy things.

Alexander Godefrey's clients must have been a little worried when the French hairstylist asked them to put their heads into a sack attached to a chimney. It didn't look like it at the time, but Godefrey had just invented the first hair dryer, way back in the 1890s.

A primitive hair dryer.Wikimedia

The inventor was trying to save time while preparing the elaborate hairstyles his clients loved, but his design had a few kinks. He had to add a steam valve to keep the machine from roasting the women's heads.

Many early hair dryers were just vacuum cleaners.Emil Strassberg

Other inventors improved on Godefrey's rough design, eventually making over-sized vacuum cleaners that sprayed air on your head.

Movie stars sporting short, clean hair created a demand for hair dryers.Women in Film Pioneers Project / Gajitz

But in the 1920s, the first handheld hair dryers hit the market, and revolutionized the beauty industry. Yes, they were solid metal and weighed a hefty two pounds, but perfect, clean hair was worth developing tennis elbow.

An electric perm machine.Glamour Daze

But the beauty salons weren't done improving on the hair dryer.

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