"Hey Sandra, wanna go out Friday night?"
"I can't. I'm washing my hair."
Although it may seem strange to us today that Sandra is turning down this date because she's going to be washing her hair, during the 50's, this was a popular excuse because washing hair was a major endeavor. Hair was so important that women were willing to do back-breaking work for it. Here is the process: (pg. 19-20)
1. Remove your dress and pin a bath towel securely around your neck.
2. Comb and brush your hair thoroughly.
3. Massage your entire scalp with your finger tips or the palms of your hands.
4. Wet your hair thoroughly, using your hands to wet the back of your head.
5. Apply a small amount of shampoo on different places of your scalp. Work it into a good lather with your finger tips. Rub the ends of your hair between the palms of your hands.
6. Rinse your hair, not forgetting the hair on the back of your head, the hairline all the way around, and the hair behind your ears.
7. Apply shampoo again in the same manner.
8. Rinse your hair thoroughly several times, using plenty of warm water each time. The last rinse may be a little cooler than others. To make sure your hair is clean, check whether it squeaks when you pull your fingers through it.
9. Apply a little rinse if desired. The juice of one lemon or three tablespoons of vinegar to one basin of water helps to remove any soap left in the hair. Rinse your hair again with plenty of warm water or cool, clean water.
10. Dry your hair as much as possible by rubbing with a clean towel.
11. Comb your hair and then arrage and set it in a becoming style.
Whew! That's how women during the 50's took care of their hair. And on a side note, it was considered improper to brush your hair in public. There were also tips and tricks to styling hair so that a round face could appear less so, a wide face could be made narrower, and so on and so on. The book didn't give instructions on how to style your hair a particular way, but below is a picture with examples of some of the tips and tricks. (pg. 22-23)
I hope this sheds some light on hair during the 50's, man, was it complicated! I just like to take a quick shower, put my hair back in a pony tail and be done with it. When my hubby and I were dating, I put hardly any effort into my hair. Poor Sandra!
Carson, Byrta. How You Look and Dress, 3rd Edition. St. Louis: Webster Division, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1955.