Tools of the Trade

Hair Dryer

Patented in 1888 by French hairstylist and inventor Alexandre-Ferdinand Godefroy, the hair dryer’s earliest ancestor was a dome-like apparatus affixed to a heat source and placed on top of a woman’s head to cover the hair. These hair dryers included a valve through which steam could escape, but lacked airflow. Thus, the early twentieth century saw advertisements which encouraged women to connect the exhaust of a vacuum cleaner to a hair drying hose.


Eventually as electricity was developed, hand-held electric hair dryers were invented with the earliest one appearing in the 1920s.

The first “perm” was developed by German hairdresser Charles Nestle when he combined heat-curling hair with caustic chemicals. The first experiment on a woman’s hair took more than six hours and used a set of 12, two-pound brass hair rollers which were heated to around 212 degrees Fahrenheit!

General Museum Hours of Operation:
Wednesday - Sunday
12:00 - 4:00 pm

2730 Historic Decatur Road, Suite 103
San Diego, CA 92106
Phone: (619) 233-7963
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© 2019 by the Women's Museum of California