Hair salons are definitely a modern necessity for both men and women. From getting your hair colored to having highlights or just getting a trim, a simple visit to your local salon can help you look your best. These practices have been around since ancient times and have evolved over the years from spiritual experiences to an expression of your uniqueness. But no matter how much it has changed, the idea has remained the same that caring for your hair is an absolute necessity!
The Emergence of Hair Salons
Hair styling has been around since the most ancient of times, although it was first recorded by the ancient Egyptians. In their religion, hair was thought to be a direct connection to the gods and held a spiritual power. In fact, the earliest barbers and hair stylists were actually priests and priestesses! It was believed that only they could contact and channel the spirits that moved through the hair, especially if their “client” was of the royal family.
In ancient Rome and Greece, your appearance was expected to be clean and tidy. Men often had their beard trims by a barber, resulting in the emergence of barbershops. Women were expected to keep their hair neat and natural, and often wore brow wigs applied by hair specialists to fake a fuller brow! The upper class often had these specialists come to their homes for an all-inclusive spa-like experience complete with waxing, manicures, and pedicures.
The popularity of hair styling reached its peak in the late 18th century when wigs and elaborate hairdos became the height of fashion among European nobles and royalty. In fact, the more elaborate and brightly colored the wig, the better! Both women and men wore hair extensions and oversized wigs made of colored animal hair that often weighed upwards of 20 pounds!
With the fall of the popularity of wigs in the 19th century, hair styling reached a standstill. The focus became more so on natural beauty and less on eye-catching hair. Women still had their hair cut and styled, but did so from the privacy and comfort of their own homes.
The Creation of the Modern Salon
With the inventions of plumbing and shampoos, salons suddenly surged in popularity for both men and women. It was during this time that hairdressers began to use the chemical hydrogen peroxide and synthetic hair dye to change hair color. Women began to being working as hairdressers, with Martha Matilda Harper opening the first public salon called “The Harper Hair Parlor” in the 1880’s. This self made entrepreneur was the inventor of the reclining salon chair, although she wasn’t able to patent it.
Salons truly reached their peak of popularity in the Roarin’ 20’s, with a boom of more than 25,000 in the US alone. With the popularity of the flapper bob, finger waves, and dark hair, visiting a salon became a daily process that was expected of young and old women alike.
The first at-home hair dye was invented by Clairol in the 1930’s, the height of the Great Depression. However, even with this invention and the fall of the US economy, many wealthier women would still go to the local salon to get their hair done. As the 1930’s progressed into the 1940’s, hair relaxers and hair steamers became more popular, although the formula did tend to cause some irritation.
In the 1950’s, big hair became popular once more, leading to women turning back to the salons that they abandoned with the Great Depression. The bouffant became the style of choice and the popularity of the emerging Vidal Sassoon took off. This movement led to the establishment of the modern beauty parlor salon that is an all-encompassing head to toe experience.
In today’s salon, you can expect a wide variety of services to be offered at your local hair salon, from hair coloring to perms to hair styling and more. There are salons that specialize in complex treatments from hair steaming to oil infusing to rainbow coloring. No matter what kind of style or look you’re searching for, you can be sure to find it in your local hair salon!