From 1901 until 2000, transformations of costumes were of an astonishing variation, covering almost all the possible options: from the classic Victorian elegance, to the long-haired hippies of the 60's, until all the possibilities that our imagination could embrace: punk, rastafari, skinheads, etc. The industrial and technological achievements, not seen before in History, so fast and with no interruption, were reflected in different hairstyles along the century.

But it's important to remark that, in the 20th century - and until today-, who defines the styles, the "fashion" symbols, are not more the princes or the noblesse, the aristocrats. The new phenomenon, the cinema, first the silent movies and later the talking movies, creates, in its massive and popular penetration, new models: the movie artists. From now, they will be the ones who dictate the mode and the tendencies; people will imitate their hair styles, dressings, and their behaviors and costumes.


At the first years of the century , women's hair was still relatively long and usually waved. The best method to wave the hair was the one invented by Marcel Grateau, with a hot curly iron which only worked on long hairs. As women started soon to use shorter hairstyles, a new method was necessary to wave the hair. The first method for a permanent wave was the one created by the German hairstylist Karl Nessler (later Charles Nestle), in 1905. He patented in 1906 the system in Germany, which consisted in a group of rollers in which the hair was wrapped and curled, connected to a machine what heated them by means of an electrical resistance. Hot rollers were kept far from the scalp by a complex of countering weights. In the first step was applied sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) and the hair was heated for several hours. All the process took 6 hours to be completed. Nessler tried in a first instance his method in Paris with a woman, Katharina Laible, to whom he burnt the hair and the scalp twice. After that, he married with her. In 1915 Nessler traveled to United States, discovering hundreds of falsifications of his patent on there. Then, he opened beauty salons in New York, patenting the system again, improved, and under the American laws.


During the first decade of the century, hairstyles were pretty similar to those of the former century: were still in use the "Marcel Wave" and the "Gibson Girl" hairstyle. The hair's revolution arrived after the First World War. Women started to use short hair, about the earlobes-length, which was a real innovation. This style reflected the "New American Woman": a busy, active woman, more independent, and liberated of old social structures. This hairstyle was called

This hairstyle had several variations: with the hair cut straight around the head, with wavy hair, and with bangs or an exposed forehead. Some women added spit curls in front of the ears, or a single curl on the forehead.

Irene Castle
Mary Pickford
Alice Day
Louise Brooks

In the first years of the century, men still were using moustaches, but usually with short hair. Since 1920 the style was a clean shaven face and short hair, flat-combed.

1911, Gaston Briand 1925, Rodolfo Valentino 1928, Konrad Veidt 1930, Fred Astaire

The decade of 1920-1930 brought two technological advances: the first handheld blow dryer and sustancial improvements in the perm machines.

Anyway, the first handheld blow dryers had some inconveniences: they were heavy, around 2lbs of weight, made of steel and zinc, and they were only capable of using 100 watts, so it took a long time to dry hair. In addition, they also were dangerous because of the risk of electrocution in contact with water. But later they were evolving, becoming more powerful and safer. Actually they had a sensor which automatically interrupts the current circuit when it detects that the dryer is overheated, and they can use up to 2,000 watts of heat.

Perm machines were improved in this decade by the Swiss Eugene Suter and the Spanish Isidoro Calvete.

They developed a tubular system in which were inserted two windings into an aluminum tube. The hair was wrapped in spiral around the tube, allowing that the hair close to the root, thicker, received more hot than the thinner hair at the tips. Later there were variations and improvements in the system, like that one of the Czech hairstylist Josef Mayer in 1924, and the Afro-American Marjorie Joyner in 1928, who patented a machine in which the hair was rolled in cylinders. Isidoro Calvete’s company, ICall, created in 1934 a system in which the tubes were unplugged of the electric current before applying to the hair, which was called “the fallen heat method”. The heat began to cool as soon as applied and was controlled by a thermostat. In 1938, Arnold F. Willat invented the “cold wave’, which was the beginning of the system currently in use today. The system is based in rolling the hair on rods applying a reduction lotion of ammonium thioglycolate, which breaks the protein structure in the keratin, giving the hair more flexibility.  Later an oxidation lotion of hydrogen peroxide is applied, forcing the hair to adopt the rod’s shape.


In 1935 a show of perm hairstyles was performed in London, the Hairdressing Fashion Show, and the First Prize was a perm made with an ICall Machine of that time. It shows a very short hair, bicolor tincture, and an elegant design with a typical art-deco style.

Between the decades of 1930 and 1940, after the Great Depression that affected the economy of the whole world in 1929, women's hairstyles became a little more natural, although there was a tendency to wear perms. Hair was worn longer, at the neck length, and the new fashion was the platinum blond hair, like Jean Harlow. Men used short hair, usually fixed with oinments and pomades.

After the 2nd World War (1939-1945), there were important sociological changes, based in the never seen before experience of the atomic bombs blowing up on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and devastating whole cities. The existentialist philosophy appears in the scene; a tendency which shows the absurdity of an existence that could disappear in any unexpected moment, a general feeling of vulnerability and a lack of sense of the established moral values. The existentialism is expressed in literature and, in general in every artistic manifestation. And, of course, this expression is also transferred to fashion and costumes, which always have been an expression of the social way of thinking. In France, Juliette Greco and other artists proposed a new way of dressing and hairstyle; in the London “caves”, the "beatnik" musical groups also represented a way of disconformities: longer hairs, bangs, sideburns... the initial look of The Beatles at the 60’s. Hairstyles were then more open and liberal: everything manifested a huge disagreement with the politeness of former generations. James Dean, in his movies East of Eden and Rebel without a cause (1955) set up a hairstyle copied by thousands of youths at that time. Other hairstyles were famous: for instance, that of Marilyn Monroe, the unarguable diva of the 50’s. In 1955, Gina Lollobrigida is The Most Beautiful Woman in the World, as the title of her famous film said. Other women wore a very short hair, like Audrey Hepburn, who, on the other hand, kept her dark brown hair color and always refused to dye it.


At the end of the 50’s and at the beginning of the 60’s, Elvis Presley hairstyle, with sideburns and the hair combed backward forming a mound of hair above the forehead, and a ducktail, is a furor and it’s adopted by millions of males around the world. In 1958, Elvis’ hair was so important, that, thousands of fans made public protests when the singer went to the military service and the army cut his hair. By then, the television started to gain popularity and its images became strongly influential amongst the people. But, unlike the cinema, the images of TV speakers were still conservative and polite. Soon, the style of the common people, more informal, being the most popular, was also installed in the TV images. At the start of the 60’s Anthony Perkins is proclaimed the sexiest man, wearing an intentionally unarranged hairstyle.


At the end of the 1960s another revolution in mode and costumes showed up with an amazing energy. Under slogans like "forbidden to forbid" and “power to the imagination", thousands of young men and women protested around the world against values, moral and ethics inherited from former generations. Hairstyles and dresses became more liberal and bold. In that moment a counter cultural movement appeared: the hippies; they were liberal, pacifists, opposed to the Vietnam War and to nuclear weapons. "Peace and love" was the slogan of their philosophy. Their dresses and hairstyles became so popular, that, finally they were worn even by all of who did not share their principles. Near 1968, an English "super-model" set up another feminine hairstyle: Twiggy, with her short hair -parted in one side and slicked back behind her ears-, looking a stylized and slim figure. In 1967 the first opera-rock is presented in an off-Broadway stage: the musical Hair, which clearly showed all the hippies hairstyles and also another one which at that time started to be popular: the afro hairstyle. In this rock musical, hair was the main way of protest and rebellion against traditional values. Since all those cultural transformations, the people’s look will be open to infinite variations, and all the possible hairstyles will be accepted. Along the 1950s and the 1960s Brigitte Bardot was appearing in French movies, captivating the attention of male audiences with her long and sensual hair.

That decade of the sixties, and especially its last years, marked an inflexion in costumes and a cultural opening, unknown in former years. In some way, all the generalized patterns until that moment were broken and dismissed; every social sector, or every individual, decided to adapt their dresses or their hairstyles at the way they thought they should be worn, without social directions.The Beatles changed their look, and in their last discographic works they appeared with very long hair, bangs and huge beards. The end of the 1960s was the "braking-with-the-rules" time. Prejudices were left at a side. A new generation of hairstyles scandalized the former generations. For this youth, the only thing really forbidden, was to forbid.


Along the 1970s, the liberty of using long hair, or either using it in the best way according to everyone’s personality, was total. The Jamaican music, with Bob Marley as its main figure, brought a new fashion, inspired in the look of the Rastafarian religion. Bo Derek, in her movie "10", looked a similar hairstyle, with blond hair. In general, in that decade, men worn the hair long, with ample sideburns, in some cases beards, and women a very long hair, or very straight perms, as helmets. Farrah Fawcett also made popular her feathered hairstyle.

During the decade of the 1980s, all these hairstyles were still in use, and one more was added; the "yuppie" ("young urban professional") hairstyle. It was a stylistic reaction of conservative youths aligned with the establishment’s values who did not share liberal ideas. They were, in general, young entrepreneurs, Wall Street staff, etc., with a more polite and conservative style. At the 80’s, women worn a big hair, almost always groomed with gel or mousse, and dyes were of more unusual colors, like blue or bright red tonalities. Simultaneously, different urban groups wore their own hairstyles, and consequently, were in fashion more unseen hairstyles, like the skinhead, punk, or the gothic hairstyle. The skinhead was a close-cropped or shaven head hairstyle, originated between the working class young people in London in the1960s as an opposite reaction against the long hair of other liberal movements. Later the movement was politicized, mainly to the far right and the neo-Nazism, and finally the hairstyle was in fashion for everybody who wanted to use it. The punk sub-culture was born near the middle of the 70’s and was strongly expanded on the 80’s. It was a reactionary sub-culture against the society values, with tendencies to the leftism and liberalism; they were anti-fashion, anti-capitalist, anti-racist, anti-militarist, anarchic and vegetarians. The punk tends to impress with abundant tattoos, and a dramatic use of clothes, jewels and weird hairstyles.  One of the most popular is the hair completely shaven at the nape and at either side of the head and a strip of long hair at the top of the head, like the Mohawk style. The English soccer-player David Beckham used that hairstyle for a long time. During the 1980s the skinheads, at the top of their revival, were strongly influenced by the punk hairstyle. After the 1980s all these hairstyles became too popular, loosing the original power of their social and political messages, being transformed in only simple fashions, used by anybody, no matters what ideology they had.

At the 90’s more unisex styles were popularized. In fact, beauty salons since several years ago already showed the tendency of being open for both sexes. One of the most popular hairstyles at that time was the grunge hairstyle, being its maximum exponent Kurt Cobain, the leader of the musical group Nirvana. The hair was left stringy, fibrous and disordered, and needed to remain unwashed; those who preferred to wash it, had to apply pomades to look like unwashed. Another style, more for women, which was used by Kate Moss, for instance, was the heroin chic, which consisted in the hair stringy and many times punctuated with seaweeds or other unusual materials. This look was completed with a very thin body, pale skin and dark circles below the eyes, having a tendency to be an androgyny style. In1994 Jennifer Aniston performed the character of Rachel in the weekly TV series "Friends" appearing with a hairstyle which later would be very popular, the "Rachel" hairstyle. Men started to cut their hair short at either side of the head and the hair spiked upwards in the center, fixed with gel, and slight beards. Never as in the 1990s were dyes so used. One of the fashions of the 90’s was to dye the hair of light colors, leaving 1 or more inch of dark roots.

At the beginning of the second millennium, and until today, the variation of styles is as wide as the freedom of using anyone of them. Today there's no more uniformed values, only subtle general trends. Actually, advertisements for hair products tend to emphasize individuality and personal choices. At this time, almost everything is allowed: since being "retro", or simply "classic", until the total boldness.



The decade of 1920-30 had an unarguable super-star: Antek Cierplikowski (1885-1976), better know as Monsieur Antoine, a Polish-born immigrated to New York, who founded the famous salon Antoine de Paris in the 5th Avenue. He was credited with the beginning of the short hair fashion, around 1910, and he was creator of the "shingle" hairstyle in 1920. Antoine used to dye his own hair and his dog’s hair of lilac or light blue color. He also introduced the idea of drawing blond streaks between dark colors. In 1930 Antoine was the most important hairstylist in the world. From his salon were generated several generations of hairstylists. One of them was Sidney Guilaroff, (1907- ) who assisted the most important Hollywood stars at that time, like Clark Gable, Lucille Ball, Tyrone Power, Katharine Hepburn, etc.




An unforgettable name in the hair's history in the 20th century is Louis Alexandre Raimon (1922-2008), better known as Alexandre de Paris. Famous by his design of Liz Taylor's hair in Cleopatra, he owned a first level salon in Paris and several resorts in other French cities where the rich and the famous were to spend their vacations. He was the hair designer of the Dukes of Windsor, and he worked along 40 years with the best companies of haute-couture: Christian Dior, Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent. His personal friend Jean Cocteau designed his logo, baptizing it the "Sphynx de la Coiffure".


In the 40's , Maria (1911-1978) and Rosy (1914-1983) Carita opened a distinguished salon in Paris, at the Boulevard Saint-Honoré. They created a line of wigs and hairpieces used by the aristocracy of the epoch, and started using their own brand in hair products.



Raymond Bessone, an Englishmen better known as Mr. Teasy Weasy, was one of the most famous stylists of the 50's and 60's. Also known as Raymond of Mayfair, for his salon in the elegant London neighborhood, he created the popular "bouffant" hairstyle, which was worn by many movie actresses, like Diana Dors. At that time he had a TV show and was dedicated to the racehorses. His horses wore permed hair.






Vidal Sassoon (1928) born British and nationalized Israeli, was trained in Raymond Bessone's salons and in the 1960s he became a celebrity. He created original styles of geometric haircuts, which, without any kind of hair spray, remained in shape with the natural hair. He had his own line of hair care products and nowadays his hair design schools are prestigious in all the world over.





The Mascolo Brothers (Toni & Guy), were famous in Great Britain in the 1970s. The four brothers opened their first salon in 1963, receiving several awards and administrating their own line of beauty products. Guy Mascolo died in May 2009.

Joshua Galvin worked in Vidal Sassoon from 1961 until 1975 and later he opened his own salon. Amongst his clients were Madonna and Princess Diana. He created a famous line of products called "Serum Solutions".

The French hairstylist Charlie, who initially worked with the Carita Sisters in Paris, became famous when in 1992 she was required by Elle magazine to make a hair design for Catherine Deneuve. After years of being working with Alexandre de Paris, she opened her own salon, where they actually offer a complete "re-looking".

Nicky Clarke, with his TV show This Morning, and his famous haircuts, won several times the award British Hairdresser of the Year.

Louis Licari is known as one of the best experts in color in United States.




In 1903, Hans Schwarzkopf (1874-1921) launched to the market the first shampoo in powder for hair washing. Until then, people used to wash hair with regular soap in bars. The product was initially called "SCHAUMPON", and was patented with its characteristic black profile logo. Schwarzkopf was later one the major companies of beauty products in the world.


In 1907, Eugène Schueller, a young French chemist started to make in Paris a dye for hair with the name "Auréole", made and bottled by himself and distributed also by himself among the Paris beauty salons. In 1909 he founded his company Société Française de Teintures Inoffensives pour Cheveux. In 1920 it was a still a small business, but around 1950 he had 100 chemists employed in his factory. In 1966 the company expanded to United States and was selling 14 millions dollars yearly.


This company started his activities in 1931 with a young American chemist and his wife, Lawrence and Joan Gelb, who chose that name regarding a line of products for hair coloring that they found in France, acquiring their rights of commercialization. Joan Gelb offered his products in person to the beauty salon, and thanks to their good quality they could compete with the most important brand at that time, Roux. In 2004 the company had commercialized products by 1,600 millions dollars.


With an initial investment of 300 dollars, in 1932 the brothers Charles and Joseph Revson and their partner Charles Lachman, -who had created a formula for waxing the nails which promised long time of permanence-, founded the company Revlon. In 1940 they were also selling lipsticks, and in 1960 they were between the top cosmetic companies in the world.


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