Vintage beauty books and some retro haircare advice for dry hair

It’s summer and you might be experiencing dry hair issues right now. So here are some tips from some vintage beauty books on how to get your locks back in good shape. And if you scroll to the ends of the post, I also share my own steps and tips for getting dry hair healthy again.

Before we get started though, can I just point out, my copy of this adorable 1952 book, The Homemaker’s Encyclopedia Personal Beauty and Charm, has written in the interior, “Cindy Pierce 8th Grade”. Quite the Home Economics class book don’t you think?

Jane Gordon writes in Technique for Beauty, copyright 1940…

Dry Hair

The process of permanent waving, and hot-air drying machines used after a shampoo, or a set, as well as iron waving, all have a drying effect on the hair.

  • The mixture used to soften the hair in permanent waving sachets and pads dries out the natural oil, and so does the ‘cooking’ of the steam.
  • The air used in the drying machine is extremely hot and therefore dries out the oily secretions of the hair even more thoroughly than a hot iron.

What with one thing or another, it is not really surprising that dry hair is a common complaint among women.


For thoroughly efficient treatment you must combine scalp massage and brushing with an oily hair tonic. The massage loosens the scalp and encourages the tiny sebaceous glands to do their work, and the brushing stimulates the circulation of blood to the scalp and carries the oil secretion of the sebaceous glands down the shaft of the hair.

The Homemaker’s Encyclopedia – Personal Beauty and Charm recommends in 1952, for dry hair…

A similar treatment for dry hair appears in Daniel Turudich’s very fun book, Vintage Beauty: Over 200 Make-at-Home Beauty Recipes

It suggests a dry hair oil steam treatment.

“Warm six tablespoons of Olive Oil, or three tablespoons of Olive Oil and three tablespoons of Castor Oil. Dip a cotton ball into the oil and rub into scalp. After you’ve saturated the hair, use finger tips to massage oil into the scalp.

Next, dip a terry cloth towel in hot water, squeeze out, and wrap around the head. The heat steams open the pores so the oil has a chance to perform more than surface benefits. When the heat cools, reapply a second towel. If you like, you can wrap foil or wax paper around the towel. This seals in the heat so you have less frequent towel changes.

Shampoo and rinse hair three times to get out all the oil.”

I know what a few of my readers are thinking…

“But my scalp is oily and my ends are dry”

I’ve seen that before and sometimes it is caused by using a shampoo, like clarifying shampoo, that strips too much oil away from the scalp. Your body will then overcompensate by producing more oil from the scalp to counteract the fact that your shampoo keeps drying it out.

Try to counteract this way:

-You will periodically see (commission earned) around my blog. I do not put anything in my blog that I have not tested and use myself.

  • Switch to a shampoo that moisturizes. I’m a fan of Joico products. I have used the brand for a long time, especially back when I was damaging the heck out of my hair with blonding. I use the leave-in conditioning Joico HydraSplash Replenishing Leave-In after the shower.
  • Stop putting conditioner directly on your scalp. Concentrate the conditioner mid hair shaft and on the ends.
  • 10-12 hours after shampooing/conditioning, use a soft bristle brush to brush the oil build up at the scalp away from the scalp and toward the ends of your hair.
  • Do this brushing morning and night until your next shampoo.
  • Spray the ends of your hair on days you do not shampoo with an argan oil product like this one from One and Only. Just make sure that alcohol or ethanol aren’t listed in the first 3 or 4 ingredients. A lot of oils sprays add too much alcohol which just dries the hair out more.

After a couple weeks, I think you will be happy to see less oil production from your scalp, healthier ends, and much more even moisture amounts from root to tip.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may earn me a commission. I link these items because of their quality and not because of the commission I may receive. I am an independent blogger and I write based on my own opinions.

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Welcome to the Bobby Pin Blog! I am Lauren Rennells and as a hairstylist, makeup artist, writer, and generally artistic over-achiever, the Bobby Pin Blog is my outlet for thoughts and research about vintage hair and makeup trends and how to recreate them today. Thank you for stopping by!

As an Etsy and Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases. As an independent blogger, I link these items because of my own opinions and not because of the commission I may receive.



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