Hairstyling through history: the invention of rollers, straighteners and dryers

How long do you spend on your hair every day? From conditioning and shampooing to drying, straightening, curling, pinning, clipping, plaiting, you name it, it can take a while to get your hair set for the day. But walk back through time and perfecting your hairstyle would’ve taken the better part of a day. 

Thanks to those pioneering stylists and the women they styled, we now have hairdryers, rollers and straighteners that can sort our hair out pronto. So how did these contraptions come about?

Curlers, a tale as old as time



Ladies have been creating the perfect curls for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians used wooden sticks and the heat of the sun, while the ancient Greeks used hollow metal rods heated in ash. Variations on these were used throughout the ages until in 1930 American Solomon Harper invented the first rollers that didn’t need heating. Not long after that plastic rollers arrived on the scene with Hollywood starlets, including Marilyn Munroe, popularising stylish curled hairdos.

Straighteners, bucking the trend


In the early 1910s, curls were all the rage but Scot Lady Jennifer Bell Schofield dared to be different. She invented hair straighteners, 2 metal plates joined by a hinge that could clamp around the hair, not too different from what we have today. Unfortunately, these early models were prone to burning hair as much as straightening it. Hair straighteners got better but still weren’t affordable, which is why ladies turned to clothing irons to straighten their hair, as risky as this was. It wasn’t until the 1990s that hair straighteners became affordable for use at home. 

Hairdryers, bigger but not better 


French stylist Alexandre-Ferdinand Godefroy invented the first hairdryer in 1890. It was quite a beast, a seat attached to a hood connected to a gas stove. The design took off in salons around the world. Portable hairdryers came onto the market in the 1910s but were hardly worth the effort; they were heavy, overheated and blew lukewarm air which took hours to dry hair. Salon hairdryers were still the best option, huge by today’s standards, they were nonetheless effective and safe. It wasn’t until the 1970s that portable hairdryers for use at home became a reality.

Looking back, hairstyling today seems like a breeze. But for the very best results, take the pressure off and let our professional hairstylists work their magic on your hair while you sit back and relax.

Leave a Comment