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History of Cosmetology Through the Decades
Every profession’s practitioners change with the times, but in an industry that deals exclusively with appearance, those changes are greatly pronounced. Cosmetology, perhaps more than any other field, has seen those who ply its tools transform from decade to decade, beginning in the the 1930′s and continuing right up to today.
After the Roaring Twenties ended, cosmetology was still a newer profession, with most of its stylists, skin specialists, and manicurists trained at tiny, private schools. These white-frocked “cosmetistes” as some were called, worked with females only, and were beginning to use electrical tools for the very first time. Shops were staffed by groups of women who dressed in crisp, white uniforms, and sported hairstyles of the 30′s, more somber and tied back than their 1920 counterparts. Short, pinned hair was the rage, and the demure look, for stylists as well as their clients, was par for the course.
History of Cosmetology: The 1940s
The 1940′s saw big changes, with salons now offering curling and a slightly more feminine look than the drab 1930′s. Since many hair products were in short supply due to the war, improvising became necessary. Simple was in, extravagant was out. Beauty shops, as they were known, made due with hot-curling and light rinses due to soap and shampoo scarcity. Cosmetologists themselves were often the most stylish people around, because they usually were the only ones who had access to the cherished skin, hair, and nail products. The typical salon worker of the era thought nothing of wearing curlers and headscarves as they walked to their jobs in the cities, making up and freshening up at the beauty shop on arrival.
History of Cosmetology: The 1950s
The 1950′s started with the ponytail as the hairstyle of choice, and in many ways cosmetologists became role models for their female customers, demonstrating just how easy it was to look modern. Cosmetologists really came into their own at this point, earning good wages, and seeing an up spike in regular clientele. A 1950′s cosmetologist looked a lot like Liz Taylor did in those days, with ruby red lips, heavy makeup and mascara, and sculpted, meticulously styled hair and nails.
History of Cosmetology: The 1960s
The 1960′s cosmetologist was wildly different, sporting any of the popular hairstyles of the rock and roll era. The profession was a style-setter of the decade, offering everything from Twiggy ultra-short cuts to Cher-hair, long and straight. Many cosmetologists grew their businesses to include hair removal services and sought male customers who had long hair that was in desperate need of help. The 1960′s cosmetologist was a walking advertisement for the mod hair and nail trends that were sweeping the country. Think big, teased, long, hair-as-a-centerpiece, and that’s the cosmetologist of the 1960′s.
History of Cosmetology: The 1970s & 1980s
The cosmetologist of the 1970′s and 1980′s was more subdued, sporting a wider variety of more sophisticated shades and more natural hair styles, perhaps in reaction to the new “ecology” movement, which emphasized cleaner, less made up looks. White frock, medical jackets were standard issue, as were stylish, shorter hairdos. Think Marlo Thomas in the TV show “That Girl,” or Mary Tyler Moore’s groomed look on her show, and that sums up the cosmetologist look for the era.
History of Cosmetology: Today
Today’s cosmetology practitioner, whether female or male, is a true fashion leader. From the early 1990′s to today, stylists, nail techs, and estheticians are consultants and indeed look the part. No one look prevails, because individuality is the catchphrase of the modern era. Naturalness, cleanliness, and colors.
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