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Blown Away: The Invention of the Hairdryer

April showers bring May flowers... but they can also bring bad hair days! To commemorate National Hair Stylist Day on April 30, InventHelp® has brought you the history of the beautician's most trusted weapon against bed head – the hair dryer!

The first hair dryer was invented in 1890 by a French stylist, Alexandre F. Godefrey. His invention was a large, seated version that consisted of a bonnet that attached to the chimney pipe of a gas stove. It was the first hood dryer ever made, and it was run by power cord and a hand crank. Clients would sit underneath the device in his salon and almost be engulfed by the sheer size of the machine. Quite a risky seat to be in the name of beauty!

Before the invention of the handheld blow dryer, women and men had to get creative when it came to drying their hair at home. One of the first devices used as a hair dryer was actually the vacuum cleaner. Turn of the century vacuum cleaners sucked in air through the front and blew it out through the back. Vacuum cleaners came with a hose that could be connected to either the front or back end. Women would often connect the vacuum hose to the back end of the vacuum, turn it on and use the air from the vacuum to dry their hair.

Invention of the hairdryerIt wasn't until 1920's that the first hand-held hairdryer was put on the market. Unlike modern hairdryers, the first hand-held version was big, heavy (weighing about 2 lbs), made out of zinc or steel and frequently overheated. Capable of producing only 100 watts of heat, the first hand-held hair dryer was not able to dry hair very quickly and women's arms often got tired from holding the heavy gadget. There were also many instances of overheating and electrocution due to contact with water.

By the mid 1950's, new dryer models were compact and housed the motor inside the casing, allowing the blow dryer to be less noisy and bulky. These blow dryers had elegant designs and were brightly colored, much more feminine than their clunky predecessors.

Hair dryer technology had improved dramatically by the 1960's. Hair dryers of this time were made from plastic, making them lighter and easier to hold for extended periods of time. They were also now capable of producing up to 500 watts of heat due to technological advancements.

The advanced portable hair dryers of the 90's could produce over 1500 watts of heat. Improvements in plastic technology and the discovery of new insulating materials made a new generation of lightweight hairdryers possible.

Today's blow dryers can produce up 2000 watts and can dry hair faster than ever before. Many of today's models of hair dryers are designed to weigh less than one pound, as well as look sleek and stylish. Modern hair dryers are made using tourmaline crystal ionic technology, or nanofusion. Tourmaline is a silicate that is believed to create shiny, smooth hair. Nanotechnology is said to kill bacteria and viruses – quite an advancement from Godefrey's original model!

With the innovation of today's blow dryers, there's no reason to let these rainy April days dampen your hairstyle!


Back to April 2011 Newsletter

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