The Way We WereApril 1, 2007 By: American Salon Staff American Salon
An ad in the January 1928 issue of The American Hairdresser from Emil J. Padar Co., Chicago, IL, featured a green porcelain barber chair. The company had recently installed six of these new-age beauties in Marshall Field & Company. "The trend of the times is color—color in clothes, decoration, bathrooms and autos," read the ad copy. Maybe they were onto something. In fact, a few of our advertisers began using color in their ads for the first time that year.
During that decade, women were willing to try just about anything to get their hair to curl. We ran ads for Fanette Waving Lotion, which enabled stylists to do "finger or swirl waves." Wave Easy Water Wave Fluid left hair clean, not sticky or greasy. Oh, and it was green. Meanwhile, the W.G. Shelton Co. claimed to "lead the world in quality and results," boasting that its "Shelton waves are natural waves." Frigidine took out ads for a new development in permanent waving called the cool method with "nonmetallic insulated heaters."
A green porcelain barber chair from Emil J. Padar Co., Chicago, IL
Meanwhile, Keen Steamroll Waving Machines ran an ad that read like a cautionary tale. The headline, "Le Morte d'Alyce," was translated for readers as "The Death of Alice." In the story, Alice opens a salon that she "dolled up with Louis Fortieth furniture." We're assuming the copywriter meant to say "Louis Fourteenth," but he's not around anymore so we can't ask him what he meant. But, we digress. Alice's mistake was installing inferior equipment, especially waving machines, because she assumed that "they're all alike." (The company was quick to point out that while both Cadillacs and Chevrolets will take you where you want to go, there's a big difference in the ride.) Ultimately, Alice's business goes belly-up. The moral of the story, of course, is that if she'd only invested in a Keen Steamroll Waving Machine, she might have been rolling in the dough instead of out of work.
The Frigidine cool method of permanent waving featured nonmetallic insulated heaters.
Naturally, companies outdid themselves trying to invent a better mousetrap. The Edmond Process Automatic Hair Winder, which combed, stretched, wound and tied the hair, promised "19 curls in 17 minutes."
Also in the magazine were step-by-steps of finger-waving techniques. Stylists were taught that dressing the hair meant making sure the wave lasted. The idea, we told our readers, was to cut and shape the hair to "bring out the best features and counteract defects."