Story of Us, 1900-1910: Hot Tools

Curls were in vogue during the Edwardian era, and irons were on fire, literally. Curling tongs were heated by being placed into the fire and before being applied to hair–which sometimes had the undesirable potential to overheat and cause many a singed head. In 1905, Francois Marcel received the first patent for an implement called “Curling-Iron” to perform the Marcel Wave, which was all the rage. In 1906, German hairdresser Karl Ludwig Nessler, also known as Charles Nestle, developed and demonstrated the first permanent waving machine, the precursor to the modern-day perm. Unfortunately, this method could take six hours or more.

This time period also saw the advent of the hair dryer. At the turn of the century, it was common for men and women to use vacuum cleaners to dry their hair. The first hair dryer models were not portable or handheld. Instead, the person had to sit underneath the dryer to dry their hair evenly.