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Hairdressing In The 1930S Was Anything But Fun : Hairdressing Articles
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Hairdressing In The 1930S Was Anything But Fun

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Hairdressing In The 1930S Was Anything But Fun

Postby chris the limey » 15 Jul 2007 11:00 pm

ImageExcited by the Marcel Wave? Intrigued by The Shingle or Eton Crop? And how about exploding shampoo, anthrax poisoning, syhpillis and drug dealing? Could you make it as a 1930\'s hairdresser? Read this article to find out!

You know, I love the hairdressing industry. Everything about it thrills me. From the way we can magically transform curly hair into straight to the gossip and buzz of a busy Saturday afternoon in the salon.

I\'ve always had a secret wish though. I wish that the styles of the 1930\'s and 1940\'s would come back into vogue. Even if it\'s just for one week. I have romanticised about it for most of my career!

Lately though, while reading the 1936 edition of \"The Art & Craft of Hairdressing\" I began to feel decidely lucky that I am a new millennium hairstylist. Here\'s 4 reasons why, taken directly from that magnificent book...

Exploding Shampoo anyone?


The following warning issued by the London County Council to members of the hairdressing profession in London is reproduced here because of the imperative need that such a warning be heeded by all hairdressers.

Fatal and other serious accidents having occurred through the use of hair-washes containing petroleum spirit, the London County Council considers it desirable to give notice that such liquids are petroleum mixtures within the meaning of the Petroleum Acts, and can be lawfully kept only in accordance with the provisions thereof.

These hair-washes are known by various names, such as \" Antiseptique Liquids,\" \"Dry Shampoo,\" \"Petrole,\" and freely give off highly inflammable vapour at ordinary temperatures. (Article continues below)


The special danger arising in their use is that the liquid may be ignited by a light or fire some distance away. The vapour is heavier than air, and under certain conditions it will travel or flow considerable distances. Directly it reaches a light or fire the whole volume at once bursts into flame, and involves the spirit mixture whence it proceeds. This has been known to occur even when the liquid was over 40 ft. distant from the point of ignition.An electric spark will ignite the vapour, and petroleum spirit fires have occurred through ignition by electricity generated by friction in dry-cleaning clothes.

The human hair is also rendered electrical by friction, and, consequently there is a danger, when it is cleaned with a petroleum spirit hair-wash, of ignition by an electric spark. The use of petroleum spirit hair-washes is, therefore, so exceptionally dangerous that it is hoped hairdressers and others will do their utmost to discourage the practice.

Tea, Coffee, Morphine...?


Hairdressers, perfumers, and others who prepare and/or vend preparations containing poisons are specially affected by the Dangerous Drugs Acts, 1920, 1923, and 1925, and the Poisons and Pharmacy Acts, 1868, 1908.

Dangerous Drugs
No hairdresser is allowed to sell any of the drugs to which the Dangerous Drugs Acts, 1920-1925, apply, and which include the following: raw opium, medicinal opium, coca leaves, Indian hemp, extracts and tinctures of Indian hemp, morphine and cocaine or any preparation containing one-fifth per cent or more of morphine or one-tenth per cent or more of cocaine, diacetylmorphine, dihydro-oxycodeinone, and dihy-drocodeinone or any preparation containing them.

A Close Shave With Anthrax, Japanese Style


The danger of contracting anthrax by means of infected shaving brushes is a serious one, especially considering the fact that the hairdresser not only uses, but frequently sells, shaving brushes. The bacilli of anthrax, moreover, may be conveyed quite innocentlv by the hairdresser first attending to a self-shaver, who has unwittingly used an infected brush, and then passing on the germ to a regular shaving client.

Anthrax is a splenic germ that attacks sheep, pigs, and other cattle; the wool, hair, and bristles of the diseased animal also become infected. The bacilli of 1 Bodily Diseases Indicated by the Skin and Hair anthrax is most difficult to destroy, and
all cheap shaving brushes should be avoided. The disease arises in the spleen of the animal and is characterized externally by malignant carbuncles or boils. A human being infected by the anthrax bacilli soon develops malignant pustules accompanied with a fever, and the disease frequently has a fatal termination.(Article continues below)


Since the War the prevalence of anthrax in human beings has been serious enough to merit action by the Ministry of Health. Special investigations have been made, with the result that in practically every case the infection has been traced to shaving brushes and tooth brushes of Japanese origin. Local authorities have been instructed to exercise special vigilance in the matter.

And Finally, Forget Your Tip, Have Some Syhpillis Instead!


The problem of that dread disease, syphilis, is of the highest importance from a national point of view. This will be realized when it is pointed out that no less than 60,000 persons are slain every year in Great Britain by this single disease. This death roll, according to Dr. Burke, Chief of the Venereal Diseases Service of Salford, Manchester, implies there are some 200,000 fresh infections occurring annually, and that, furthermore, the infected syphilitic population of England and Wales at any given moment amounts to 2,800,000 people; that is to say, out of every 100 persons living 7 are suffering from syphilis.According to the same authority there is no reason why the death roll from syphilis should be serious, considering that, as a disease, it is particularly amenable to treatment and cure. Be that as it may, the present tremendous prevalence of syphilis has a vital bearing upon the hairdressing profession.

So far as hairdressing is concerned, it must not be considered as a trade disease, but, owing to the nature of the hairdresser\'s work, it constitutes a grave menace to those engaged in the profession. It must be emphatically pointed out that, practically speaking, the whole of the 2,800,000 infected persons pass through the hands of the hairdresser several times during the year. The doctors have to deal with most of the known sufferers, but hairdressers have to deal with all, both the known and the unknown syphilitics of our land.The operator comes into intimate and close personal touch with his client, he touches infected skins and scalps, and in many ways is in danger of innocently contracting this highly contagious disease. (Article continues below)


Now syphilis may be conveyed either indirectly or directly. A healthy person may be infected directly by coming into immediate contact with an infectious area upon the body of the diseased person. Indirect infection is conveyed by means of a drinking vessel or a towel, razor, lather brush, comb, scissors, etc.

The hairdresser in the course of his occupation of necessity deals with all the infected persons, diagnosed and undiagnosed, treated and untreated. He is, therefore, involved in the problem of public health.

The hairdresser can be a potent factor in spreading or limiting the disease. There are two groups of people involved, the operator and the client. The healthy operator may have become infected, and the healthy client in turn may also become infected. The hairdresser cannot afford, for his own sake and the sake of his clients, to neglect the observance of common-sense precautions. If a client is suspected, he or she must be refused attention.

If an operator is suspected, he must be sent straight away to a doctor for treatment. Scrupulous cleanliness and complete sterilization of all implements constitute the surest guard and safest defence against syphilitic infection. A reference to the appendix1 at the end of the present section will instruct the reader in certain symptoms of syphilis and other diseases indicated in relation to hair and scalp troubles.

So there you have it. I think I\'ll stick with my Meg Ryan hair cuts and my Tigi bed-head after all. And to think, we complain about a little bit of dermatitis!

Article produced by Chris The Limey for 2006.
I try to get online to answer forum posts at least once per day. If I miss your post, let me know. :)
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Re: Hairdressing In The 1930S Was Anything But Fun

Postby avedaiscool » 08 Jul 2012 04:00 pm

Great article! Loved it.
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