I got a kick out of these 1910 Los Angeles Herald images showing an early 20th-century American woman really putting her long tresses through their paces.
Holy cow—there’s a lot of fussin’ goin’ on there! But long hair was the style back then, and I suppose caring for all that hair did require quite a lot of effort…
When I looked more closely at this photo assortment, something really struck me. Check out the third photo from the left, up top under the headline… What do you see? A blow dryer! Wow!—and I thought handheld blow dryers got their start in the 60s/70s.
A visit to Wikipedia informed me that the first hair dyer was invented in the late 19th century by a Frenchman named Alexander Godefroy. It was a sit-under version, the type you see at hair salons. Prior to that, apparently many women used vacuum cleaners (!) to dry their hair.
The year 1911 witnessed the first U.S. handheld blow dryer being patented; it was the invention of an Armenian-American named Gabriel Kazanjian. (Go Gabriel!). The first models for consumers, however, did not come out until 1915 (…which makes it hard to explain why this Christmas Day 1910 newspaper is carrying this image! Thoughts anyone?).
As you can imagine, the initial models were heavy (approx. 2 lbs.–real bicep-builders) and cumbersome, and not anywhere near as powerful as the blow dryers of today. It would have taken quite a while to dry tresses as long and thick as these. And the early dryers could be dangerous, overheating or (worst-case scenario) causing electrocution. Thankfully, they have come a long way since then. So next time you power up your blow dryer, which will likely be today or tomorrow (am I right?), say a little ‘thank you’ to Alexander and Gabriel!
To read the accompanying article, which contains all sorts of advice on hair care and growing old gracefully:
Click the newspaper image once and then use Ctrl + to enlarge to your preferred size; or, for a very enlarged view, click the image twice, and use the sliding bars to move to different sections of the page:
Credit: California Digital Newspaper Collection – “A Freely Accessible Repository of Digitized California Newspapers from 1846 to the Present” – California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside; All newspapers published before January 1, 1923 are in the public domain and therefore have no restrictions on use.