Beauty is in the Hair - Hairdressing through history!

In the last blog we looked at how important and vital barbering has been throughout history and now we're going to take a look at the hairdressing and beauty industry. There is a lot of history to comb though (pun intended tongue-out) so this is just scratching the surface of hairdressing in history. Just like it's barbering cousin, hairdressing dates back thousands of years. In Ancient Greece, hairdressing has been recorded in the writings of many scholars, including Homer. There were master hairdressers who would conduct a special ceremony in which they would present their tools and combs to their chosen successor before they died. Hairdressers in Ancient Egypt had ornately decorated cases to hold their tools. Wealthy men would have a personal barber in their home or they would visit a barbershop whereas women always had their hair done at home. 

Probably some of the most famous hairstyles of the 17th Century were created in Paris. Madame Martin popularized the "Tower" hairstyle, where tall piles of curls were powdered and decorated with ribbons, jewels, feathers, flowers and lace. The complexity of the style showed that the lady had the time to devote to her hair as well as the wealth to employ a maid or hairdresser to create the style for her.


Duchess of Beaufort, painted by Thomas Gainsborough, painted in the 1770's-80's.

Staying in France, whilst at the French Court Legros de Rumigny was declared the first official "hairdresser." He would go on to open the Academie de Coiffure where he would teach men and women how to cut and style hair. 

As we look at the 19th Century, hairdressing, which had primarily been for the wealthy, became available to the masses with hairdressers beginning to open salons in cities and towns. This was began by Martha Matilda Harper who developed one of the first retail hairdressing chains.

The 20th Century showed salons and beauty parlours becoming social spaces, a place where women could be pampered, relax and gossip with other women. Technology progressed again which allowed advancements in tools like permanent wave machines and hair dryers. After WW1 women's hairstyles changed again with the bob becoming hugely popular, as well as other short hairstyles.


Louise Brooks, an American actress, pictured in 1929 with the bob hairstyle.

At that time many women were still classed as home-makers, however, hairdressing was one of the few acceptable professions for women along with nursing, teaching and clerical work. 

Today hairdressing is a global phenomenon! Across different cultures hairdressers share many similarities but there is much diversity too. In Singapore and Malaysia mobile hairdressers won't go to houses but will set up in a shady spot in the villages. This works well as children and older people who cannot travel to salons will use this service. In Japan, where businesses often stay open until late, it is common for hair salons to stay open until around 11pm so people who work late can get their hair done. Almost everyone has, or will, visit a hairdresser multiple times throughout their life because a hairdresser knows how to make you feel relaxed and pampered, as well as it being great for your hair!

At SEC we have hundreds of products that will help you carry on the rich tradition of hairdressing whilst creating a stunning set-up within your salon! From chairs to backwashes, mirrors to trolleys, we have everything you could possibly need! And our bespoke service means if you have a vision then we can help you create it!


Ivory & Gold Collection - elegant ivory tones pair seamlessly with the warmth of the gold metal work.


Champagne & Khaki Collection - the earthy hue of the khaki compliments the exquisite champagne finish.


Midnight Collection - the mystic qualities of the navy and greys work beautifully with the dark and silvery graphite metal.

To see these collections and many more please head to our website or visit us at our Lutterworth Showroom which is located just off the M1 at Junction 20 where we have all of our beautiful collections on display. If you  have questions and need to speak to someone call us on 01455 553558 and one of the team will be happy to help!

Hairdressing, like barbering, has been prevalent throughout history and it has constantly evolved to keep pace with our fast moving society. Without a doubt it is an exciting and unique sector to work in and at SEC we are proud to support hairdressers all over the world!