Imagine using your vacuum cleaner to dry your hair. Possible? Of course. Practical? Not really. Silly looking? Absolutely. In the early 1900s, it wasn’t unheard of for people to go to that extreme in order to get their locks of hair dried as quickly as possible. Remember, these were the days long, long, before portable vacuums existed. But why the desperation to get a person’s hair dried with something mechanical instead of a towel?
If a finger needs to pointed at someone, start with Alexandre-Ferdinand Godefroy. His “hair dressing device” made its debut in a French salon back in 1888 and began raising hopes that deciding to wash your hair didn’t mean having to book an entire day to dry and style it afterwards. Godefroy’s device wasn’t much better than the previous vacuum idea, although his seated dryer did provide an element of risk for fashionable thrill seekers in that they could potentially cook their head if the device was used improperly.
Starting in 1915 it became possible to have your hair dried without having to sit under a device that looked like it was designed to extract your brain. While marketed as hand held dryers, these devices were poorly designed and difficult to use – not too mention heavy. And compared to today’s hair/blow dryers that have upwards of 2000 watts of power behind them, early dryers were cutting-edge if they could reach 100 watts. The ‘convenience’ of using a hair dryer still came at a price, with the motors being externally mounted (which remained the norm until 1954) and electrocution always a possibility. On the upside, early hair dryers were also marketed as a way to kill head lice, so the the somewhat false hope of being both stylish while being lice-free at the same time was definitely a huge selling point.
Story by Jay Moon