The following images are from Dunn Hair Presents: the history of hairdressing

Gilt Label for the Evarosa American Hair Tonic

Halls Hair Renewer, The Leading Hair Invigorator

18th Century warning on Petroleum Hair-Washes

c20th - Retail advertising lotion for children

Harlene Hair Drill


c18th - Wigmaker’s tools and appliances

18th century wig making tools: think Marie Antionette’s high and powdered do

Hair tongs pioneered by Marcel

Hair tongs pioneered by Marcel (French process invented in 1872) and requiring heating over a flame

Wave tongs and a 20th Century brass paraffin heater

Hair tongs and 20th century paraffin heater

c20th - Charles Nestle’s first permanent waving machine

early electric permanent waving machine: process could take up to 10 hours to do the whole head!

Permanent Wave machine

another electric permanent wave machine (early 20th c)

The following images are from the Smithsonian Institute’s/ collection of health, hygiene and beauty items. The Smithsonian has a surprisingly large number of items in the health, hygiene and beauty categories dating back into the 1800s. Interesting essays accompany sub-categories of images such as hair care; cure-alls and salves; bathing (body soaps and cleansers); baby products; and feminine hygiene products. The essays place the items within historical, cultural, and social context. Well worth a virtual trip to the museum!

Hall's Vegetable Sicilian Hair Renewer advertisement

Carboline advertisement

Ayer's Hair Vigor advertisement

For African-American women, often the emphasis was on straightening hair (these products are from African-American owned companies — the owners were often women):

By the 1960s and 70’s, African-American women often chose more “natural” hair styles; this change is noted in the products available. (note: this is not necessarily “natural” as defined in the 2000s)

Oh, the things our foremothers did in the name of fashion and beauty! And, these are just the commercial products . . . !

For more on the Smithsonian and women’s history, see: because of her story

feature image: Smithsonian Institute