Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Memories of Vintage Beauty Salons

The small, privately owned beauty salon could almost be described as being part of the culture during the mid 20th century and was so common, it hard to believe that over that last 25 years they have all but disappeared.  Gwen Tuinman  wrote a wonderful article "Hairs the Story of a Small Town Salon" , which inspired me to do this blog post.  I'll quote from her article to give you preview of it:

"My job was straight forward: wash hair; sweep floors; pass curlers and pins, perm rods and papers. There was a large pedestal tray on wheels that was stocked with curlers of differing sizes, arranged by colour. The curler pins were stored, heads at one end of the tray compartment and points at the other.

When Marie was doing a set, I’d pass the correct curler followed by a pin. I imagined that it was like being a surgical nurse. I anticipated what she’d need without her uttering so much as a word, by watching the pattern of curlers and other clues that bloomed as she worked. While the tail of her comb traced out another tidy rectangle in her patron’s hair,  I’d hold the next curler or hairpin in midair, ready to place the item in Marie’s palm."

You can read the whole article here.

I thought I'd post a few photos of those salons from various places on Internet. Unfortunately, its often hard to find the original source, so I will try and attribute them with links where possible. (If you are the original owner and want the link changed, or would like you photo removed, please let me know).

This first photo of a typical small salon looks like its from the 1970s and even in this small salon there is an element of luxury. Look at the lady under the dryer: she has her legs up on leg-rest to make her time under the dryer more comfortable.

Here is a photo from the early 60s(?). I love how the hairdresser in the photo, perhaps the owner, is standing proudly behind the counter of her shop.

And a similar one. Look at the vintage furniture and how well dressed they are. Perhaps this was a somewhat up-scale salon.

 And a really small two dryer salon from the 50s.

Here is a great photo showing the activity in a small salon. Love the iconic late 60s hairdo the blond hairdresser is wearing.

And what salon would have been complete without some shampoo girls. Undoubtedly one of the perks of the job would have been to have their own hair done.

And here is the outside of a salon. Looks like sign is neon sign which you hardly see any more.


  1. I want to move in! I have such sense-memory of beauty salons. I long for a regular weekly appointment.

  2. Hello Pete,
    I'm delighted that you chose to share my reminiscing on your site. The neighbourhood salon was hub for a lot of our mothers in a time when women worked in the home, without the type of social interaction that working experience today. As children, we were usually brought along to sit in a quiet corner and entertain ourselves. A very different time indeed but one that evokes fond memories.
    All the best,
    Gwen Tuinman:)

  3. always tip the shampoo girl well, as they are paid a pittance, and because the shampoo experience can be as relaxing as a day spa [or not].
    That post made me think of the home salon in Steel Magnolias.

    1. Yes - I should see if there is a clip of that on youtube and add it into this post.

  4. I would like to say that this blog really convinced me to do it! Thanks, very good post. new salons