Today it is so easy to dry and style hair simply by picking up a portable blow dryer and the appropriate styling tools. But women didn’t always have it this easy. In fact, some of the early models of hair dryers often looked like torture devices or something resembling our ideas of space aliens. But, hair dryers had to start somewhere. But hardly anyone knows who invented the hair dryer.
Fortunately, a man named Alexandre-Ferdinand Godefroy was the visionary who created a faster way for women to dry their hair. In 1888, Godefroy, who was a French hair stylist, hooked a pipe to a gas stove and then to a dome surrounding a woman’s head and the hair would dry. The dome had escape valves to release steam so the woman’s head wouldn’t overheat but it’s hard to imagine sitting still for this type of treatment hoping your head wouldn’t burn. This man who invented the hair dryer also used his contraption for shampooing simply by removing all the parts except a brim-like apparatus that prevented soapy water from running onto his client’s face. Clearly going to the salon was a dubious adventure at best.
Godefroy’s initial concept was a marvel in its time, but fortunately, it was improved upon and by the early twentieth century, women were connecting their hair drying domes to the exhaust hoses on their vacuum cleaners to get that all important air flow to dry hair quicker. It wasn’t long, however, before the first handheld hair dryer was invented. The first patent was granted in 1911 to Armenian-American inventor Gabriel Kazanjian who invented the hair dryer to be held in the hand. These models looked similar to modern blow dryers but they were extremely heavy and the air produced was barely above room temperature. Plus women were often electrocuted so they were not exactly the darling of the hairstyling world.
It wasn’t until the 1920s, though, that hair dryers really became a household fixture. Door-to-door salesmen were pitching other home appliances such as toasters, hot plates and irons, so hair dryers were natural products for the modern day homemaker. The bob was the in style at the time and it required clean, healthy looking hair which meant that women had to wash their hair more often than once a week which had been the norm.
By the 1950s, the bonnet style hair dryer came into fashion because women could use them at home. They were more portable with a flexible tube connected to a plastic bonnet style hood worn over the hair. These models worked but fortunately the handheld dryer was continually improved upon and it became much lighter in weight and The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued guidelines on making them safer to use.
Today’s blow dryers like the ion Whirlwind Pro Hair Dryer are a dream compared to the devices from the past. The hair dryers weigh a fraction of what they used to, some models come in at less than a pound. Available wattage has increased, too, with today’s dryers emitting anywhere from 1,200 to 2,000 watts. Today’s models are not only more lightweight, they are also much quieter and have more features which allow for greater styling flexibility.