History of Beauty Salons

By December 21, 2022 No Comments

Beauty salons may be spectacularly modern now, but they have a long and rich history that stretches all the way back to the nineteenth century. Historically, women have always been using beauty products in some form or another, but the creation of beauty salons introduced a new level of business to the beauty industry.

Who Invented Beauty Salons?

The first beauty salon was created by Martha Matilda Harper, a young Canadian woman who had emigrated to the United States, bringing her own hair tonic formula with her. Working as a domestic servant, Harper created her own shampoos in a shed and saved her money until she had enough to open a salon in 1888.

This salon, called the Harper Method Shop, was met with success, thanks to Harper’s business acumen and her beautiful floor-length hair, which helped her to market her signature shampoos. After that, Harper opened more salons and laboratories, creating and selling makeup, dyes and creams along with her shampoos. All of her work helped to establish the model for the modern beauty salon.

What is the History of Beauty Salons?

Women have been using various beauty products for centuries, though, historically, it was only wealthy women who had unbridled access to them. These products were also a far cry from the hair and makeup products that we know and use nowadays. For instance, in the Middle Ages, women powdered their faces with flour, and the Ancient Greeks used crushed berry dyes as lipstick.

It wasn’t until the late 1800s and early 1900s when women began making more money, thanks to a surge in women entering the workforce. The beauty industry was one populated entirely by women, giving them the opportunity to branch out into the business world. Martha Matilda Harper is one of the earliest examples of beauty salon founders, but she was far from the only one.

Marjorie Joyner made history in 1928 as the first African-American woman to create a permanent hair-wave machine. She had attended beauty school and opened her own salon, the first of her cosmetic empire. Around the time that the First World War broke out, the majority of professional hairstylists were black women, and they found plenty of success catering to clients as hair trends evolved. More and more beauty salons opened in response to cater to growing demands for professional beauty treatments.

Both hair and makeup reached new levels of popularity in the 1950s, with red lipstick, heavy eye makeup and bouffant hairstyles coming into fashion. Beauty salons were packed out, and that busyness only increased in the 1960s. From the 1970s to the 1990s, hair trends included long styles, perms and crimps, and makeup trends saw thin eyebrows, colourful eyelids and frosted lips come into fashion.

Beauty salons increased over history in response to growing demands for professional treatments that women didn’t have to do themselves. With more women working, the beauty industry quickly took off, developing over centuries into the bustling salon culture that we have today.


If you want to celebrate the history of the beauty salon, book your next appointment with JUJU’s in Camden. With a range of beauty treatments on offer, you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits and luxuries provided by a high-quality modern beauty salon.