The history of hairdressing goes back for 1000’s of year and it actually quite difficult to pin point an exact time when the art first came in to being although the term “hairdresser” and “profession” was not used until the 17th century when the words were born in Europe. The term “profession” may not be the correct term for the early years as it is not clear if it was actually a service that was paid for and may have been more of a community act or ritual of sorts. It is worth noting at this point that personal hygiene was not at the levels of today and hair grooming was largely to be found among the wealthy and people of “high-standing” in their society. In the 1600’s, hairstyles of these rich people were often somewhat elaborate, comprising a lot of hair that was styled by chambermaids, a job that frequently took many hours. France appears to be where hairdressing began as a true business with some 1200 hairdressing business in existence in Paris by 1777.
In these early days it was common for dedicated men and women salon’s, as is the case today in some places. The traditional men’s hairdresser (or barber) was little more than an establishment where the hair was trimmed and perhaps a place to get a really close shave, whereas even in these early years the women loved to style their hair.
The 20th century started to see a change in the way these establishments were viewed by both the owners and it’s patrons as the “beauty” element soon crept in to existence, resulting in what we currently see in a lot of modern day unisex beauty salons where hair styling is complimented by other beauty services such as nail and skin care etc.
Hairdressing is still one of the fastest expanding occupations in the United States.