In October of 2017 I had the amazing pleasure to work with stage director, Kristin McIntyre on her beautiful production Don Giovanni. For those of you unfamiliar with this opera it was written in 1787 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, it is based on the legends of Don Juan, a fictional libertine and seducer. What made this production interesting was that it was set in 1940’s-1950’s with a film noir style, the reason why this was a brilliant direction to take is because you have characters seen in this opera that are also seen in film noir. You have your villain, femme fatale, alienated characters, and the obsessed characters.
I’m not going to talk much more about this opera, my focus is on hair and makeup trends during this time, granted I could write an entire book about this but I will try and just hit key areas on how and why the style was what it was during this period.
First let me back track, before the film noir style came to be the United States was involved with World War 2. Picture it, women are in the workforce while the men are out at war, swimsuits and bras are changing styles to provide more fabrics and material in effort of the war. Women had shorter, cropped hair to keep them safe while working in the factories. If a woman had long hair and was working in a factory they were prone to accidents, i.e. hair getting caught in machinery and hurting/killing them.
Fast forward to 1945, the war is over. Men are returning home and back to their jobs, women are now forced out of the workforce and back into their homes. Some women are growing their hair out, while others are leaving it short. Women are beginning to conform back into wives and mothers, while others trying to work outside the home. Meanwhile, the world is recovering from the war, dealing with the fear of communism, exploring new concepts like Freudianism, Marxism, and of course Feminism.
With all these events and ideological views flourishing it was the perfect soil to grow the concept of film noir. Also, during this time makeup artist, Max Factor was redefining women’s cosmetics and beginning the transition from cosmetics into makeup. A topic I will dive into further detail at another time.
With the world in this interesting transition period women were taking ownership of their appearance in new ways. Women who have shorter hair may no longer need to go to the salons to get their hair styled weekly (obviously depending on the style). Women with longer hair are getting their hair set weekly but are maintaining the styles their self. When I say getting your hair set I’m talking about when women go to the salon to get rollers placed in their hair and sit under a hair dryer to set the curls, see photo below.
I want to start by discussing styles for women in a mid to lower class setting. Women with longer hair in this class would get their hair set. Setting the hair would have a structured curl, as they wore the style it would loosen up, hence where the loose ‘Hollywood wave’ came from. This style was popular because of how easy it was to maintain, and the longevity and versatility of the style. Women with bob length, wedge, and page boy styles were incredibly popular because of the women re-growing their hair out after chopping it off from working in the factories. These styles were also relatively easy to maintain, especially if they were receiving permanent waves or getting a weekly roller set.
Women in a higher-class system could afford to get their hair styled multiple times a week if necessary. Typically, these women had bob length or longer hair. The hair would be dressed with clips, pins, and sometimes flowers. These styles were more structured curls and plastered with hair spray to maintain the style, typically pulled up and away from the face.
In film noir your femme fatale would have more of the Hollywood wave style or short hair to show and express their feminism or struggle in the story line. While the more ‘well to do’ or successful characters would have more structured styles to show the structure in their life.
These styles were popular on Joan Crawford, Betty Davis, and Jane Greer, they are still relevant and seen today and are a sign of feminism and independence for women. Hollywood waves are seen almost every season on the red carpet for their iconic and timeless style.
The hair styles are founded on the struggles that women endured up to that point in history. From working in the work place, the women’s fight for equality, and the fears of ideological views in the world. The 1940-1950’S birthed a style that has forever shifted how we view and express women’s hair and fashion. Next time you’re waving your hair or finding inspiration from the film noir era remember, these styles represent so much more struggle and history, it is more than just a glamorous look it is a fashion and political statement.
Film Noir Compendium. (2016) Alan Silver & James Ursini, Applause Theatre and Cinema Books, Milwaukee, WI
I started this blog November 8th, 2017 at the time I was planning to go back to school for Psychology and Sociology and pursue a career in… something. Since my first post life has taken me back to my roots and passion for hair. I am not enrolled in school and do not plan on continuing my education at this point in my life. I have found passion and inspiration again as a hairdresser, I feel that the only reason why I wanted to go back to school was to find excitement. With the help of this blog I have been re-energized as a hairdresser again and am more passionate about my career than ever before.
The reason why I am sharing this is because I started this blog with the intention to merge my career and student life together in some sort of common ground, however since I am not pursuing my student life where does that leave this blog? I will continue to write and research about the hair industry throughout the world and how it affects us all, these writings have only inspired me to be a better stylist, to continue to learn and grow, and to be the student and teacher. The Geography of Hair will continue to share experiences, history, and motivational posts to further inspire myself and hopefully inspire/educate others.
I share this with you not because I felt I have lied or feel guilty for not going back to school. I share this to show that we may feel like we know where the future will take us, but we have no control, and sometimes we go on a journey we never thought we would and end up in a place that is exactly where we need to be.
As the journey of this blog continues I invite you to share your hair experiences and knowledge with me, as a collective we grow, learn, and inspire each other.
Until next time, much love,
Happy Valentines Day! I wanted to take a moment to do a mini mid-week post on the most random and beautiful holiday of the year.
Regardless if you are in a relationship, married, single, or have multiple partners take some time in your day to show love towards yourself. I feel we live in a society where we feel obligated to love others or be loved by others and we never take the time to love our self. Do something to show love and gratitude for you and only for you. This morning I showed love for myself by doing some of my favorite activities. I went climbing for a bit, went to a yoga class, and made a delicious breakfast, and now writing this post. These are all activities that bring me joy and happiness and reminds me of how extraordinary it is to be human. What do you do to express self-love?
After showing love for yourself, go and share that love with the world! If you’re in a relationship, express your love to your partner. I also challenge everyone, throughout your day to give random acts of kindness. For those who are bitter about today, give them extra love! Show them they are loved! Valentine’s Day has nothing to do with your ‘relationship status’. Single, married, or whatever you are loved! I love all my readers, I love my clients, friends, and family because you all have created a special place in my heart and I wouldn’t be who I am today without your love and support. I want you to know you are loved, you are special, you are beautiful, and I am so grateful to have you in my life.
Enjoy your Valentine’s Day, go and share your love, be grateful for all the love in your life, the love from your friends, family, co-workers. In this world we could all use a little bit more love, so go into your day full of love.
I’m off to the salon to share the love like pink eye in an elementary school! Affecting everyone and spreading like a wild fire.... Gross analogy but it gets the point across.
Ahhh, ohhh, yes! These are just a few words (and sounds) that I hear when I’m massaging a client’s head during their shampoo. It always makes me giggle when I hear someone make sound effects during the shampoo, however the moaning can be a tad bit creepy. Clients tell me all the time that the best part of getting their haircut is getting their hair washed. Why is it that? Besides the obvious reason of it feeling amazing, why is head massaging an important aspect of getting haircut? Also, why do hairdressers massage scalps?
All over the world you can see massages performed alongside salon services. It maybe a rather stimulated scalp and face massage involving vigorous motions and perhaps slapping of the face as seen in India; or a scalp massage performed by a machine with 24 fingers found in China and Japan. Regardless of how, who, or what is giving the service it is seen all over the world.
The origin of head massages date back over 2,000 years ago in India. Indian head massages are known as “Champi” in Hindi and Urdu. The process of head massage is based on the principles of Ayurveda; its goal is to align the flow of energy or chakras in the body. The term “Ayurveda” comes from the Sanskrit words ayur (life) and veda (science or knowledge). Ayurvedic medicine is one of the oldest systems of medicine in the world. Ayurvedic practices predate written texts and were handed down by word of mouth.
The benefits of Champi include, release of tension to prevent or alleviate headaches, backaches, and migraines, help promote hair growth, boost memory, and help with insomnia. Champi also puts the client in a relaxed, calm state, once the massage is complete there is usually a feeling of rejuvenation. Curtain essential oils can be used to help induce the feelings of calm relaxation. Champi became popular in England in the late 1970’s when a blind physical therapist by the name of Narendra Mehta brought these techniques over from India. Champi was very popular in the community he grew up in, he studied at barbershops on street corners in India.
As a student in cosmetology school there was no formal training on Champi nor mention of it, however as a student we were taught on certain techniques when giving a scalp massage. We were taught how it benefits our hair and skin. Over the years I have adapted my own technique and system, but I would like to find out how it became mainstream in salons. In India it has been custom to give Champi in barbershops for many years,.
During my research I couldn’t pinpoint when hairstylists started performing head massaging in salons in the United States, however I have not given up! I will continue to try and find an answer and update this post as needed. I'm also curious on how many hairdressers know the origin of head massaging. These are the questions that keep me up at night.
To piggy back off last weeks post; hairstylists everywhere do more than just ‘make people pretty’ we have to opportunity to create a sense of wellbeing in the body and mind for our clients. Next time you visit your local salon/barbershop just sit back, relax, and enjoy the amazing benefits of a relaxing shampoo and Champi. If you’d like to learn more about Champi and other Ayurvedic practices check the references below and see the videos below on shampooing around the world.
Ayurvedic India. (2017, May 20). Indian Head Massage Benefits - Techniques and History. Retrieved February 10, 2018, from http://www.ayurvedicindia.info/indian-head-massage/
U.S. Dept of Health and Human Services. (2016, April 07). Ayurvedic Medicine: In Depth. Retrieved February 10, 2018, from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/ayurveda/introduction.htm#hed3
In 2011 Nicole Kidman was nominated for best actress for her role in the movie, Rabbit Hole. She attended the Academy Awards wearing a stunning Dior silver dress, her hair was pulled up in what appears to be a French twist with a soft textured fringe. Nicole gained a lot of attention that evening, but not for any reasons I may have listed. She gained attention because she could not, NOT arch her eyebrows. A beautiful face sculptured by the best makeup made her look like a doll, a doll who looked like she sat in something.
Nicole Kidman did admit in 2013 she had Botox treatments, but she ‘got out of it’ and is glad she can move her face again. Shortly after Nicole’s appearance, celebrities were seen at gala events with blank expressions. The Botox was not only making them look good (or expressionless) but also making them feel good. In the book Stealing Fire by Steven Kotler and Jamie Wheal they explore why this happens. Why does Botox make people feel good?
There have been countless studies on the effects of Botox, studies where researches take a group of depressed people and inject Botox or a Placebo into their frown lines, some of the participants received the Botox and the rest received a Placebo. Those injected with Botox felt over all less depressed and more happiness; compared to those who received the Placebo, the Placebo participants felt the same level of depression or in some cases worse. There is another effect with Botox, those who received the Botox also became less emphatic, the reason is because the participants could no longer move their face to mirror expressions on others, making them less emphatic. Perhaps doing a power pose daily would be wiser than losing emphatic abilities.
What researchers have found is that there is a mind and body connection. Since those injected with Botox could not frown anymore they felt an overall sense of happiness. Our facial and body expressions effect our overall mood. That is why psychologists have been promoting the hypothesis of the power pose. Power posing is a theory in psychology, it says by assuming a "powerful" posture, like the Wonder Woman pose or taking up as much space as you can with your body, a person can induce a positive behavior change.
So why am I talking about Botox, Nicole Kidman, power poses, and depression? I want to share that the mind body connection is powerful and feeling good about our outward appearance can affect our feelings. Our thoughts trigger how our body feels, how our body feels affect our thoughts.
When I’m working with a client I know I’ve done my job when I see the client smile at the end of the appointment. When they see their hair after it’s been freshly colored and cut and they smile I know I’ve done my job. After I’ve applied someone’s makeup and I see a smile on their face, I know I’m finished. I will not stop until there is a smile. By the way, that is the most rewarding experience in my job. Seeing my clients leave feeling sexy, invincible, and confident. People may say that hairdressers work in a superficial industry, but I’ve had my haircut where I feel like I’m Superman or a Calvin Klein model. I’ve had clients tell me at the end of their appointments that their service was much needed because they weren’t feeling good. It’s a similar experience to what people who receive Botox experience. Feeling good on the outside reflects inside and vice versa.
Take the time daily to do something for your body and mind. Since this is The Geography of Hair blog I would say style your hair, shave your face, or apply makeup daily. There are countless ways to connect the body and mind. It can be working out, meditating is very powerful, get Botox, do a power pose in the morning, wear an outfit that you love, have sex, give yourself a manicure or pedicure.
The point is, this profession of cosmetology isn’t just about making people look good, it’s about making them feel great, it’s about making someone’s day. If you ever get your hair or makeup done and you’re not feeling great, go back and allow them to try and make you feel like a god/goddess, also take the daily responsibility to connect your body and mind. Allow yourself the freedom and know that you deserve to feel great about who you are inside and out, because you are beautiful.
Kotler, S., & Wheal, J. (2017). Stealing fire: how Silicon Valley, the Navy SEALS, and maverick scientists are revolutionizing the way we live and work. New York,NY: Dey St. Pg. 96-99
THE GEOGRAPHY OF HAIR
The Geography of Hair is devoted to share experiences and stories in cosmetology and how it has affected people, myself, or us as a society.