The Marcel Wave and Permanent Wave

At the Turn of the last century Frenchman Marcel Grateau invented what has commonly become know as The Marcel Wave a process where the hair was heated using curling irons to produce a natural symmetrical wave. However these effects were only temporary until washing or up a maximum of two months.

Hairdressing and hairdressers were becoming increasingly popular and science was at the forefront of the industry, endeavouring to produce the first permanent wave.

This was done through permanent waving machines, until the development of popular chemicals mass-produced in the late 1930’s. these machines used throughout the 20’s often caused injuries as it involved heating the hair ”above two hundred degrees” and the burning of the scalp was commonplace, apart from the dangers it could take ten hours to complete the process to a full head of hair attached to a complicated ”chandelier system”.

Only when used in conjunction with The Bob did the perm really take off as women wanted to enhance the bobbed look and create their own individual style using layering techniques and waves in the hair.

Long hair became a symbol of submissiveness and for emancipated females the 1920’s fostered a climate of rebellion. The flapper was born with her ”bobbed” hair showing a defiant gesture and love of a good time.



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