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"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing...kissing a lot. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls."
Audrey Hepburn

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Way We Used To Roll-Vintage Hair Tools

I have always loved seeing health and beauty tools/appliances as they've progressed over the years. Beauty and wellness is an age old obsession, one that we aren't likely to get over any time soon. Not that it's a bad thing to desire health OR beauty, but the lengths men have gone to in order to achieve greater heights in these respects are very interesting to me. Some tools, like the permanant waving get-up pictured at the head of this entry, seem so ludicrously bulky and extravagant. We can only imagine how expensive that must have been to manufacture, much less the cost that would have been involved in having it done regularly. But as hilarious as such things might be to us now, we are presently faced with even more options than ever before, when it comes to hair tools and devices.

Here are a few little fun bits about hair tools, over the centuries, as researched by me:

In Ancient Egypt, ladies and gentlemen utilized many accessories such as the gorgeous comb,shown below.

But other than accessorizing, there was little need for hair tools. Braiding was a principal means of styling the hair, for both men and women, and were accessorized with gold circlets and the aforementioned combs, as well as extraordinarily carved pins that served to hold and beautify the coiffure.
Shaving was king, for both bodies and heads. Tools for cutting and shaving have been discovered among the ruins of slave habitations and kingly residences.

Hollywood depictions of the hairstyles sported in this time are probably somewhat close to the actual look of them, but also really bring home the excessive nature of the heavy head dresses and accessories that were worn by the royal folk.

The tools used for creating the elaborately conceived styles common in ancient Athens and Rome were likewise very simple, with even more basic accessorizing.
Braids were again the classic choice, with elaborate designs being indicative of upper class and nobility.
In the ages before hairpins or bobby pins, simple needle and thread was used to hold and maintain these heavy braided styles, as is beautifully demonstrated by historical hairstylist Janet Stephens in this video. Make sure to check out the rest of her videos for more period-authentic styles.

Flowers were common accessories, as were combs and decorative ivory pins and bodkins.

Ancient China and Japan also used bone and ivory pins and sticks to style their hair. Hair ornaments were painstakingly crafted and
placed into elaborate rolls and curls to accentuate their volume and 'crownlike' appearance.
Women grew their hair long to accommodate these styles but never wore it loose in public. In Chinese culture, a Buyao ('shake as you go') was a common accessory to create an attractive and coquettish bit of interest.

Bones, beads, feathers, and flowers serves as ornaments for hair dressing in the tribes of Africa and North America.
Crude razors and shears have been found from the early American tribes, but for the most part the hair was grown long and styled using products made of vegetable oils and animal fats. Braids and hair designs were sewn into place as with ancient Rome, or positioned with bone pins.

From the 14th to the 17th century, excessive behaviors in styling were becoming commonplace in Europe. The aristocratic women and men went from shaved hairlines (to create a broader forehead, very much in fashion in the renaissance), to elaborate headdresses and braids, to pompous wigs and curls.
Combs and tools were made of ivory,silver, and bone, but beautifully carved and taking a place of prominence in boudoir decor. Powders and dyes became popular as beautifying aids for the hair and more products were being developed, not only for styling, but for scent. Curls were desired by all, particularly in the 18th century, so new ways of obtaining them were conceived. The earliest curling tongs were crude and laid directly over a heat source before use, making damaged hair likely, but worth the risk. This photo shows an idea of what they may have looked like, although I'm unsure of the date of these:

Curls were also popular using the Papillote method described here. The method works well as a cold-set, even for 1940's pin curled styles.

The Victorian Era saw a return to simplicity and less extravagance. Hair was long and more simply done, using braids and simple curling methods. It culminated in a love of 'sausage-like' curls that gave way eventually to the classically styled bobs of the 1920's and 30's, when women wanted to showcase their independance and modern sex appeal.

The clamps and tools used to shape hair into those stunning finger waved styles we love from the time period, are still used by many retro stylists today and are really not much different.

As curls became more and more a part of the elegant look of the day, more advancements in curling techniques and products were made. Although we may not recognize some of them at first glance, almost all of the tools used for styling during this era have a modern counterpart. That's one of the most interesting things about styling history, to me, the way that almost everything 'comes back', even from the most obscure and 'gimmicky' looking items. Here are a few things that refuse to quit, because frankly, they still work.

Waving Irons:

An old fashioned Marcel waver, probably from the early to mid-twenties

Modern triple barrel waving iron by Revlon

Curl Clips:
Curling Clips from the 1940s

Modern double pronged alligator clips

Bobby Pins:These were conceived in the 20th century, principally for holding a classic bobbed style in place. They have hardly changed, as you know.

Hair 'Rolling' Tools:
Solo Hair Roller-1940s

Sarah Potempa Wrap Up-Modern

Pin Curling Tools:

Pin Curling Tool-1940s

Modern Sculpture Pin Curler*

Spool-Style Rollers:
1950's Era Spoolie Roller

Clairol Lock n Roll Rollers (Remember those? They're not 'modern' really, but they've gained a lot of popularity in the vintage community lately because they do a great job mimmicking a pin curl.)

Curling/Perming Rods:
1940's(?) metal curling rods

Modern plastic perm rods

In short, we've come a long way, baby. But then again, we haven't.


*This post is sponsored by Vintage Hair, the creator of the modern sculpture pin curler. Visit the website here to purchase your own, as well as other great vintage styling goodies.


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