This post by Ann Althouse made me remember the hairdryers and roller settings of yesteryear that were replaced many decades ago by blow drying and those wand thingees that press the hair into a bone-straight (and in my opinion unflattering to most people, even the young and beautiful) sleekness.
I grew up in the era of the roller and the hairdryer, and I could really identify with this reminiscence about hours spent under a hood hairdryer, reading a magazine or just staring off into space.
Like many things that are supposed to be easier and better and more convenient, blow-drying really isn’t—although I suppose it depends on the kind of hair you’ve got. For my curly hair, blow drying makes it wild if I don’t use a diffuser and tons of glop. And blow drying makes it bushy if there’s an attempt to blow it straight, even in a salon (plus, I don’t like the way my hair looks straight). Even some professionals have agreed that the product of their attempts at blow drying with me are less than lovely, with the hair becoming more straight and yet bushy and even less shiny (and curly hair isn’t shiny to begin with).
I end up just a bit like this:
Even for the person without my special situation, the heat from blow drying is damaging to the hair, and it also takes a great deal of technique and dexterity to do well. Plus two hands are busy all the time—no way to read, unless you have absolutely mad skills.
I never mastered it. And I know a lot of people who never did, either, and who go every week to the hairdresser for a professional blowout, much as my mother did to have her hair washed and then set in rollers.
I was inspired to buy a package of rollers a few months ago, after watching the Makeover Guy (those videos I love and sometimes post here), who sometimes sets the crown of women’s hair on rollers. I hadn’t seen or thought of rollers since around 1967. But I noticed that those rollers gave women’s hair more body and a nicely controlled wave/curl, and I thought “Ah, I remember that.” My hair has become frizzier over the years, as with many women, and it turns out that a few rollers on top really do the trick. And I don’t need a hood hairdryer at all; I just waft the blow dryer over it for a while and that works pretty well.
Setting hair on rollers is like riding a bicycle; you never forget. I had mastered the skill as a teenager, when I used to set my hair every single night and slept like a baby on those hard rollers. But I don’t have to do that now. I find that just a few rollers on top for just a few minutes keep the curls more controlled and smoother until the next washing, which for me (with dry, curly hair that almost never gets dirty) comes maybe once a week.
I did a Google search to look up current information on setting hair with rollers and discovered to my surprise that nearly every single site I saw was geared to black women. Well, many of the products I use on my hair are also marketed mainly for black women, as it turns out. But I see no reason why rollers should only be pitched to that particular group. Rollers certainly were a universal phenomenon when I was growing up. I had one of those home hairdryers, too, both a soft bonnet one and a hard hood one. The soft bonnet one was easily portable, and the hard hood one was for home use but it folded up in a nifty way, too, for storage. The latter hairdryer was a gift from my clients (yes, my clients) for my sixteenth birthday, because I used to cut the hair of many of my friends, just for fun.
As a pre-pubescent and in early puberty, I wanted to be a hairdresser, actually. My parents talked me out of it.
Here’s a modern version of the type of hairdryer they gave me, for those of you who haven’t the foggiest idea what I’m talking about. I’m astounded that they still sell these things:
Hey, you can even order it through Amazon. Will wonders never cease?
[NOTE: By the way, the title of this post, “Rollers and dryers and hair,” is meant to be modeled after the famous line in the movie “The Wizard of Oz”: “lions and tigers and bears.”]