Curious History

Curious History

The Rise of Hair Salons Through the Ages

Professional Hair Styling

The profession of hair dressing dates back to ancient Egypt, where hairdressers decorated their cases to keep tools, scissors, lotions and other styling materials. In ancient Greece and Rome, wealthy men had their servants as personal hairdressers, in addition to dyeing and shaving.  As the Greeks were into beard trimming, they first opened a barber shop. In 296 BC, barber shops were common and brought back the tradition of Rome. Romans were particular about their appearance and they called their barber shop as Tonstinae. These barber shops also introduced waxing, manicure and pedicure. The demand for hair care increased in 1092 when Roman Catholic clergymen were asked to remove facial hair.

The 18th century was all about wigs and so hairdressers turned into wig makers. By the late 19th century, wigs were no longer in use and the salons gained the reputation of being a bad place. In the 1600s, Europe started seeing men styling women’s hair. One of the most popular hairdressers of that time was Champagne who opened his hair salon in Paris and styled wealthy Parisian women till his death in 1658.

The addition of plumbing and shampoo bowl saw the salons gaining popularity. Hairdressers started using hydrogen peroxide and synthetic hair dye to change hair color. In 1890, a hairdressing academy was started by Frenchmen Brisbois and Federmeyer in Chicago.

Modern Hair Salons

End of the 1800s, saw the transition from barbershops to salons all over the world. But women were still styling their hair by their servants. Salons started advertising in a big way to get women out of their homes. Around this time, a self-made entrepreneur Martha Matilda Harper opened the first public salon called ‘The Harper Hair Parlor’. She invented the salon recliner chair, but never patented her invention. She started training schools and employed the girls in her salon.

The roaring 20s saw almost 25,000 hair salons open in the US. From the 1900s to 20s, bobby pins, hair dryer, perm and hair color became popular. It was the age of Jazz and Coco Chanel, and short bobs. Since many salons refused to cut women’s hair, they went to barbershops.

The 40s era was about hairspray, relaxers and other styling products. Beauty salons became the go-to-place for women to escape from their mundane life, get pampered and indulge in gossip. In fact, military outposts started beauty salons for their employees to boost the morale of their female employees. Bouffant hairstyle invented by Raymond Bessone created waves in his gilded mirror and fountain salon in London. The term ‘salon’ officially took over the beauty parlor. Soon, men and women started frequenting the same parlor and Unisex salon was born. Salons soon opened in departmental stores and cruise ships. The 70s is considered as the golden age of hair salon as stylists were in demand. Considering the history of salons, they continue to grow till date.

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