The Weird and Wonderful Past of the Hair Dryer
InStyle brings you the complete history of the hair dryer, a staple tool in every girl's beauty kit.
Early Versions, Circa 1880
Many early versions of the hair dryer were stoneware 'Thermicon' brushes that could be filled with boiling water, and combed through your lengths.
Chrome-Plated Dryer, 1928
In 1928, the space age was still decades away, but in retrospect, this chrome-plated dryer would look more at home on a trip to the moon than one to the salon.
Hand-Held Dryer, Early 1920s
It may seem like a steampunk take on today's dryers, but this wood and bakelite-coated model wasn't as travel-friendly, with a massive box that doubled as a vanity as its power source.
Hand-Held Dryer, 1925
Though its two-speed setting would seem primitive today, this '20s-era tool was innovative for its time, and became a staple in middle-class households during the decade.
Dual-Sided Dryer, 1930
Perfect for setting the plaited and waved styles popular at the time, this dryer blasted both sides of the head using heat lamps.
Helmet Dryer, 1930
This helmet version blasted hot air over the entirety of the head to thoroughly dry each section, taking up to two hours in total for longer lengths.
Hooded Dryer, 1934
The helmet shape of this version, displayed at a hairdressing hair in London, soon became the standard in salons.
Freestanding Dryer, 1935
The freestanding nozzle of this dryer, being used at a beauty school in New Jersey, allowed the stylist more control over where to direct the heat—not to mention, was much easier on the client's neck than the helmeted versions.
Multi-Prong Dryer, 1936
Alien abduction, or hair styling session? This model, showcased at the 1936 Hair and Beauty Fair in London, featured a series of heat-radiating rods to completely cover the head.
Heat Drying Lamp, 1948
One at-home version of the dryer popular in the late 1940s incorporated heated plates of glass, which would slowly dry and set the hair.
Hand-Held Dryer, 1956
In the 1950s and '60s, leightweight versions of the hand-held tool became more mainstream, and allowed women to be their own hairstylist. Here, Sophia Loren gives her strands a quick touch-up prior to the premiere of her film Pain, Amour, Ainsi Soit-Il.
Hooded Dryers, 1963
But that didn't cancel out the beauty shop movement altogether. To achieve the trendy flips and beehives of the early 1960s, women visited the beauty parlor on a weekly basis to get their hair styled, and sat under the massive hooded dryers to allow each look to set correctly. Here, a group of Miss World contestants from Finland, Brazil, Spain, South Africa, Israel, and Japan have their hair styled prior to competing in the pageant.