Last week a dear friend of mine passed down a Vintage Lady Schick Hair Dryer that was her grandmothers. It’s in mint condition and will take my 8-10 hours of setting time for my hair to way less (not tested it yet but I’m hoping an hour tops!).

vintage lady schick hair dryer

While I held this wonderful gem in my hands, I got to thinking that I actually had no idea about the history of hair dryers (not even one tiny fact). So for today’s post we will be having a brief history lesson (to fix my lack of knowledge) and then a roundup of vintage ads and images. Enjoy!

vintage hair salon - Getty Image
Source: Huffington Post

Brief History of the Hair Dryer:

1890’s the hairdryer is invented by Alexandre Goldefroy, and consisted of a bonnet that attached to the chimney pipe of a gas stove. It was however big and bulky and not at all portable. PRIOR to this, woman were using vacuum cleaners to dry their hair, so this really was an improvement (I think).

vintage early hair dryer image
vintage hair dryer ad

1911-Armenian American inventor Gabriel Kazanjian was the first to patent a blow dryer in the United States (Source).

1915 (around)– Handheld dryers begin to appear on the market and became small enough to hold in your hand (thanks to companies like U.S. Racine Universal Motor Company and the Hamilton Beach Co).

1920s hand held hair dryer
1920s-1925 Hair Dryer Source: Phrontis – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Downfalls of the 1920’s Hair Dryers:

They were often heavy, weighing in at approximately 2 pounds (0.9 kg), and were difficult to use. They also had many instances of overheating and electrocution. Hair dryers were only capable of using 100 watts, which increased the amount of time needed to dry hair (the average dryer today can use up to 2000 watts of heat) (Source).

The 1950’s gave birth to the bonnet hair dryer, a small portable dryer connected by a tube to a plastic bonnet, as well as the rigid hood dryer, most frequently seen in today’s salons (Source).

1950s hair bonnet hair dryer advertisement

vintage hair dryers image

Since the 1920s, development of the hair dryer has mainly focused on improving the wattage and superficial exterior and material changes. In fact, the mechanism of the dryer has not had any significant changes since its inception. One of the more important changes for the hair dryer was the idea to make it out of plastic, so that it is more lightweight. This really caught on in the 1960s with the introduction of better electrical motors and the improvement of plastics.

1960s plastic hair dryer

In the 1970s, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission set up guidelines that hair dryers had to meet to be considered safe to manufacture. Since 1991 the CPSC has mandated that all dryers must use a ground fault circuit interrupter so that it cannot electrocute a person if it gets wet. By 2000, deaths by blowdryers had dropped to fewer than four people a year, a stark difference to the hundreds of cases of electrocution accidents during the mid-20th century. (Source).

Vintage Ads & Images

1938 American Hairdresser Magazine Ad.

1938 vintage advertisement for hood hair dryers
Source: Wearing History

Even men got under the hood.

vintage hair salon with woman and men - getty images
Source: Huffington Post
Vintage Hair Dryer ad
Source: The Little Red Squirrel

When one needs to get out of the house quickly, you take matters into your own hands.

Vintage Photos of Hair Dryers
Source: Vintage Everyday
Vintage 1960s Hair Dryer Ad
Source: Etsy
1950s vintage hair dryer advertisement
Source: Pinterest

My hair would never look like this, if it was dried in the “Fresh Desert Air”.

vintage hair dryer advertisement

1920s woman having hair dried vintage image

I would be scared if this was what was drying my hair.

1930s vintage hair dryer image
Source: Vintage Everyday

Germany,1977. I can’t stop laughing.

vintage hair dryer german advertisement



Question time: Do you own a vintage hair dryer that works? If you don’t currently own one, would you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


8 comments on “‘All The Ways We Blow Dry Our Hair’-Vintage History of the Hair Dryer”

  1. Fantastic post i have a modern version of the lady sun beam and I really want a vintage one. I generally wear my hair straight as it resists curls but I do like to curl it for special occasions

  2. I do not own a vintage hair dryer. But every time I’m out “antiquing” and I see one I’m tempted to buy it. I tend to let my hair air dry most of the time. But it would be fun to have one for those occasions when I do a set for vintage style.
    Love all the photos and the history.

  3. When I was little my grandma had one of those caps attached to the hairdryer by a hose and we used to have our hair dried with that when visiting. I found it fascinating and such a treat. Must see if anyone in the family still has it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.