The Hair Story: From Curly to Straight and Back

The hair industry lost its largest earnings when permanent waves or “perms” came off the salon menu. They were thought too old fashioned a method for the younger generation. It worked for many decades as a curl and body builder and then becoming more modern in volume to hold a hair set on rollers. But it could break the hair if the hair was wound incorrectly on the plastic curlers that held to the head with a strip of elastic. The elastic was sometimes pulled too tight and marked the hair so badly that it left a ridge and hair would snap off at the bend. Younger hairdressers could not cope with this method of curl, as breakage came in, as did the bad winding, and gradually the perm died from salon service by the year 2000. The perm was wonderful while it lasted and worked for many years for many people and had a wonderful run. The European salon company S&L would do 30 or 40 perms a day in their salons and with over a hundred salons just in Germany alone that was a lot of curl walking out of salons.


So in the early years of the perm, hair breakage was about in salons. I personally saw many bad results as clients came back into the salon and you could see the healthy hair growing through. Ask your grandparents, I am sure there will be many stories for them to tell.

In the mid-sixties many methods and lotions were used for long hair and ‘stack winding’ came in,  taking hours for long hair to be curled and costing far too much money.  When the rock musical, “Hair,” debuted, the natural Afro style came in, too, and it remained a fashion cult style for many seasons.

 Since around 1986,  hair products have grown their own importance in the beauty world and are so much part of today’s fashion and hair looks for the hairdresser  and  the consumer, making life easy as great products made hair that much easier to handle.

The Hair Story: From Curly to Straight and Back

 Hair color came in a big way as highlights/frosting and high and low lights came into the hair color spectrum and took over. Sassoon being the early leader along with Annie Humphries, the best colorist between the UK & USA, soon colors ranged from blue to green and red to yellow.  ‘Crazy Color’ was created by Renato Brunas which was perfect for the punk movement. I launched this color image in London ‘Salon International’ at the Airport hotel in Heathrow because in the early 1960s, anything went!

 While Crazy Color started the color rage, natural hair coloring was being revamped from these early days and continues with L’Oreal, Wella, Matrix, Schwartzkopf and Paul Mitchell. Most product companies now have a hair color line and color in the 2014 was the biggest salon service and at home sales in the billions.  

 Around 2005, in came a product from Brazil, the ‘Brazilian Blowout’ and tagged the word Keratin (now used by many companies) which smoothed out the last of the frizz and natural curl, helped with the use of hot irons to create the straight look.  Keratin became the new word for smoothing and treating. There was concern over products containing formaldehyde which caused some shift in sales but the flat iron was now the “in” tool for salon and home use so straight wasn’t going anywhere.

 But as we all know, “what goes around comes around” and the beauty industry is now experiencing new innovations in curling hair that has brought the magic back of how to curl hair in salon or at home. Some exciting new tools include Curl Secret by Conair and MiraCurl by BaByliss Pro.Professional hair salons are selling these tools that are bringing curly hair back on the fashion scene worldwide and taking over from the flat and curling iron. This is the new and easy trend for feminine curl and sexy waves.

 I predict that curl and the Afro will be back in many ways and can be noticed in the fashion magazines and hair shows and on the streets, watch this space.

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