Saturday, January 31, 2015

Hair Washing, Then and Now

I washed my hair in the shower this morning. It took a few minutes, at most.

Back when I was a girl (yes, that's ancient history) hair washing was a job that took hours.

Most girls and women only did it once a week and sometimes it would be necessary to skip a week.

In between washes we could wrap pieces of cloth cut from nylon hose over the bristles of a hairbrush and brush our hair. The nylon would collect some of the oil and dirt from our hair and we could throw the fabric away. Since we often got runs in our hose and couldn't wear them anymore anyway, they might as well be put to good use.

When we did wash our hair, first we'd, lather with shampoo, then rinse it out and do the whole thing again.

Then we'd put conditioner in our hair, wait five or ten minutes, and rinse it out.

But that was only the beginning of the process.

After combing our wet hair we'd need to "put it up" in rollers, big plastic or metal things, which took quite a while. Or we could make pin curls by coiling small sections of hair and fastening them with bobby pins or hair clips.

Some people would go to bed and sleep with those hard lumps all over their heard. I don't know how anyone could sleep like that, but we all did it at times.

But my thick hair would still be wet the next morning, so I usually used the hair drier.

Today we can dry our hair with a modern hair drier in a matter of minutes, but back then it sometimes took about an hour or even more.

No, I'm not exaggerating.

Those hair driers consisted of big plastic things that resembled shower caps, except for the hole connected by a hose to the machine that generated heat and blew it through the hose with a fan. 

Sitting next to the machine part, we'd put the caps over our hair turn on the drier, and wait. And wait.

Because of the noise we couldn't have a conversation and, connected to that contraption, we couldn't walk around. While waiting for our hair to dry we might "Do" our nails with a manicure kit and polish them. Then we'd have to hold our hands still until the polish dried.

Or we could read a book while waiting for our hair to dry. That's what I usually did.

Finally when we were certain our hair was completely dry we'd turn off the drier and put it away, then take out the curlers or pin curls and comb and brush our hair.

The one advantage to having it take so long to wash and dry our hair was that it would make a good excuse if we wanted to avoid something.

"Sorry, but I can't. I have to wash my hair" would get us out of many things.

But I'm glad I live now.


Connie Arnold said...

I had not thought about that in ages, but that is what it was like! Sure like the convenience of washing hair now much better. You did a great job of explaining it so those who did not experience it could understand, Jan

Janet Ann Collins said...

Thanks, Connie. A history lesson once in a while can't hurt.