The Way We WereMay 1, 2007 By: American Salon Staff American Salon
Advisors and Advocates
In the 1930s, The American Hairdresser really started to come of age. From featuring new brands that are salon mainstays today to reporting on the latest government legislation, the magazine covered all of the industry's developments.
Much like today, beauty professionals in the 1930s turned to the pages of The American Hairdresser for product news, business tips and marketing strategies. However, the era also saw much change in salon amenities and government legislation. Longtime editor Hazel L. Kozlay and her staff kept readers abreast of these advances with editorial coverage and monthly columns.
A girl with her look-alike Shirley Temple doll.
By the 1930s, names such as Oster, Belvedere, Andis, Takara Belmont and Helene Curtis had already established themselves in the industry. But the decade saw the birth of other big names still going strong today. In 1930, Wella opened its American division; two years later, Revlon was founded by Charles and Joseph Revson and Charles Lachman. Also in 1932, Zotos (then known as Inecto) invented a chemical heat method for permanent waving that revolutionized hairdressing because it put an end to the use of electricity to curl hair. The company issued certificates to licensed shops to be displayed in their windows. An ad in 1935 called their product, "The Ultimate Permanent."
The time-saving Turbinator, which promised to dry hair faster.
Presenting the latest hairstyles and haircolors was also part of the magazine's mission. Hairdressers from around the country offered their tricks of the trade. Kranz of the Belmont Hotel Beauty Salon in Chicago gave his advice on accomplishing that illusive "Champagne" tone; he advised readers to try a lavender rinse after bleaching. One article that ran in the mid-1930s promised that learning how to style a "Shirley Temple" would bring in new business with the under-10 set. It noted, "Even the little girls who come to the beauty shop have their favorite movie stars and like to have their hair dressed in the latest style set by these little Hollywood actresses."
Actress Bette Davis was the inspiration for a plastic tiara coiffure designed especially for The American Hairdresser by Perc Westmore, who began his career in Hollywood in 1921.
The 1930s also saw the introduction of new salon amenities. Air conditioning received an enormous amount of coverage during the decade. Every few months the magazine ran articles such as "Of Course I'm Air Conditioning My Salon!" and "Air Conditioning Spells Patron and Operator Comfort Plus Extra Profit." These articles argued that hairdressers needed to look refreshed to sell services and that air conditioning could stave off the mid-summer slump. Our editors interviewed one salon owner, Lorenzo of Omaha, who raved, "Thanks to air conditioning we no longer rush one day and do nothing the next." Lorenzo also found that the cleansing portion of his air-conditioning system kept odors at bay, giving customers "pleasant air to breathe all year-round . . . which she does not enjoy everywhere."
The House of Westmore, considered the leading salon in Hollywood.
Also significant, The American Hairdresser was on the forefront of industry activism. In an era of increased government regulation, the magazine not only reported on happenings in Washington, D.C., but its editors were also consultants to the bureaucrats, making sure that the industry's interests were well represented.