The small, privately owned beauty salon could almost be described as being part of the culture during the mid 20th century and was so common, it hard to believe that over that last 25 years they have all but disappeared. Gwen Tuinman wrote a wonderful article "Hairs the Story of a Small Town Salon" , which inspired me to do this blog post. I'll quote from her article to give you preview of it:
"My job was straight forward: wash hair; sweep floors; pass curlers and pins, perm rods and papers. There was a large pedestal tray on wheels that was stocked with curlers of differing sizes, arranged by colour. The curler pins were stored, heads at one end of the tray compartment and points at the other.
When Marie was doing a set, I’d pass the correct curler followed by a pin. I imagined that it was like being a surgical nurse. I anticipated what she’d need without her uttering so much as a word, by watching the pattern of curlers and other clues that bloomed as she worked. While the tail of her comb traced out another tidy rectangle in her patron’s hair, I’d hold the next curler or hairpin in midair, ready to place the item in Marie’s palm."
You can read the whole article here.
I thought I'd post a few photos of those salons from various places on Internet. Unfortunately, its often hard to find the original source, so I will try and attribute them with links where possible. (If you are the original owner and want the link changed, or would like you photo removed, please let me know).
This first photo of a typical small salon looks like its from the 1970s and even in this small salon there is an element of luxury. Look at the lady under the dryer: she has her legs up on leg-rest to make her time under the dryer more comfortable.
Here is a photo from the early 60s(?). I love how the hairdresser in the photo, perhaps the owner, is standing proudly behind the counter of her shop.
And a similar one. Look at the vintage furniture and how well dressed they are. Perhaps this was a somewhat up-scale salon.
And a really small two dryer salon from the 50s.
Here is a great photo showing the activity in a small salon. Love the iconic late 60s hairdo the blond hairdresser is wearing.
And what salon would have been complete without some shampoo girls. Undoubtedly one of the perks of the job would have been to have their own hair done.