From my book “A Hairdresser’s Diary”- hairdressing school

Even the basement of the school was very interesting and informative. It housed a museum set up to teach us the history of hairdressing. In the far corner, sat a huge machine from the year 1928 that had been used for perming hair. It had wires hanging down from the top of a cylindrical dome. The wires conducted heat to brass rollers, which in combination with a solution permanently curled the hair. The solution used to make the curls was very harsh and damaging, but vanity out weighted the risks. The contraption looked like something from a science fiction movie, something used for torture, definitely not like a machine used for beauty. Against the cement wall was a long wooden table, lined with very old curling irons, these in their time where placed in hot coals or heated on a wood stove, then used to make ringlets or curls. These were Marcel irons, named after the inventor. A separate table held curlers made of rag strips with wires in the center. These folded over like a billfold to hold them in place once the hair was wrapped around them. There were wooden rollers made from durable hardwood and held in place with wire clamps. Weirdly crimped, twisted wires, shaped in elongated u shapes were used for hairpins. The collection even had an old-fashioned, heavy, bulky barber chair, which showed many years of service. Off to one side sat an antique hair dryer that looked like something from outer space with its large, oval shaped ridged hood. There was a full table of hand made wigs from the early 1900’s, giving us a wonderfully dramatic look into the past. There was much to learn from the instruments and many interesting stories hidden in the basement, or as we came to call it, the dungeon of beauty.

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Posted in Books. 11 Comments »

11 Responses to “From my book “A Hairdresser’s Diary”- hairdressing school”

  1. borders for gravel driveway Says:

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    […]From my book “A Hairdresser’s Diary”- hairdressing school « A Hairdresser's Diaries[…]…

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  2. successbmine Says:

    The problem with my burns was not just a red mark but open sores that scabbed over. And I suppose I would only have been 10 years old, maybe a little older. We had a neighbor who was a hairdresser so my mother sent me to the salon where she worked. And I think that may have been the same time that the perm didn’t really work, either. I do remember having to go back to get a free one because of it.

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    • Chris Says:

      WOW I was always taught that anyone under the age of 14 should not have a perm as their skin is too tender and sensitive. I have refused to do perms on children younger than that.
      I think hairdressers should have the knowledge for this. It is not just cutting hair it is chemicals and many when we were young didn’t even have licences and if they did, proper training was not supervised. She should have been held accountable for such negligence. That is exactly what it was.

      The home perm Toni was one of the reason every novice thought it was easy, safe and a no brainer.
      I remember at 14 doing my mothers hair with a Toni perm. Now I see how unsafe it was.
      I have a friend who is blind in one eye due to over the counter colours. She let it drip in her eye while she was applying it. She wanted to save a few bucks. They make it look and sound so fast and easy.

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  3. Yvonne Hertzberger Says:

    I have seen pic of those perm machines. They used to cause burns to the scalp and skin. We’ve come a long way baby.

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    • Chris Says:

      lol They sure scared us when we saw them and our teach threatebed to mkae us use them if we didn’t listen lol; We sure have.
      One of my customers told us her mother was almost bald on one side of her head due to the burns from one of those machines.

      Thank you for taking time to read me I hope you are enjoying these bits and pieces. I so appreciate your visits.

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  4. Sandra McLeod Humphrey Says:

    I remember the curlers made from rag strips and I’ve seen pictures of the perming machines. Your description of the old beauty school reminds me of the antiquated treatments for our mentally ill patients at state hospitals–complete with shower hoses and electro-shock tables. Love your blog!

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    • Chris Says:

      Thank you so very much I am glad you are enjoying it I hope it will get enough interest for some to want to buy my book when it is ready and hopefully published.

      lol The items did remind me of tourture as well.

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  5. successbmine Says:

    Chris, I remember those curling tongs that were heated, in my experience, in the flame of the top burner on the gas stove. I was terrified of that thing – always thinking it would burn me. I don’t know where it has gone now, but it was around until a few years ago. As were the metal curlers with the rubber tip on the closure apparatus.

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    • Chris Says:

      Boy they were dangerous to handle if not handle properly, Did yours have the rubber on the handles or wood? The problem with the rubber ones was they got hard and cracked after awhile but the wooden ones would get burned.
      I am pleased that so many are reading my bits and pieces.
      Thank you

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      • successbmine Says:

        They had wood handles. Something else I remember is my early trips to the hairdresser. My hair if very fine and won’t hold a curl once there is any percentage of moisture in the air, so from a rather early age (once I was too old for ringlets) my mother would send me for a perm. But one time I got my neck burned with the perm solution. From then for a long time I was nervous about getting perms. Now I don’t need to worry. I haven’t had my hair cut short since 1969, so all I need to do is wash my hair and air-dry it. No gels. No perms. No dyes or rinses. No hairdryers. No curling irons. It’s so simple. I can do my hair up in 5 minutes or so and off I go.

        I do think, though, that I could have been a hairdresser. I did enjoy doing hair – my own and other’s – and I gave home perms, cut hair, did some styling, etc. though I had no schooling for it. But with the ezcema I developed on my hands fairly early in my adult life I don’t think I would have been able to stick with it.

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      • Chris Says:

        lol yes you have found the easiest and most simplest way to take care of your tresses. I think there was a lot of problems as I recall when I was first hairdressing in a shop with the salon cold perms that definteley would leave a burn or red mark on the customers neck, ears and forhead. If you remember we used cotton to stop the drips and that cotton would consentrate the solution in one place and for a long enough time it irritated to the point of in some cases leaving marks. It was not too long before a couple of those solutions were taken off the market and replaced with a milder and better smelling solution. The amonia was the culprit.
        I believe that in hairdressing as well as music, art, writting ect that there are those who just seem to have a nack for the flair of it. I was one of those and it sounds like you were as well. I would see and do but in order to work as a professional in a shop I had to have a licence.
        I can’t tell you how much I miss it since I have not been able to work. Six car accidents and 29 surgeries have prevented me that pleasure except a few family and friends. It is not the same though. I miss the excitment and the creativity of it. So instead I paint and write.
        You are correct about your ezcema then but now the solutions, shampoos and colours are so much more gentle though.
        One of the things that makes it harder for hairdressers are the in store products that are used carelessly by the consumer. I have seen more damage, burms, scars and irriversable problems by the use of these. TV makes it look so easy and convenient but they do not talk about the risks.
        I have just been sitting here rambling on and I can’t tell you how much fun it has been for me to reminise.

        Thank you

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