MODERN SALON has no problem revealing its age. In 2024, MODERN will be celebrating its 100th birthday.    

Born in 1924, MODERN SALON originated as "Modern Beauty Shop" magazine. The magazine’s purpose –then, as now—was to serve the evolving beauty and salon industry by offering practical advice, showcasing the latest trends, and providing a platform for professionals to share their expertise.

These styles are later broken down in step-by-steps with photos and tutorials.  
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These styles are later broken down in step-by-steps with photos and tutorials. 

In 1952, the magazine underwent a significant rebranding, changing its name from "Modern Beauty Shop" to "MODERN SALON." This change reflected a broader scope and MODERN expanded its coverage to include not only hairstyling but also skincare, makeup, and other aspects of the salon business. The publication became a go-to resource for salon owners, stylists, and beauty professionals seeking insights into industry trends, product innovations, and business strategies.

TRENDING IN 1924

In 1924, when Modern Beauty Shop launched, the United States hair and beauty trends were influenced by the culture and fashion of the “Roaring Twenties.” Those years were said to roar because, post WWI, the country experienced a period of economic growth, stimulated by industrial production and post-war consumerism.

There were also significant cultural shifts, with changing attitudes towards social norms, traditional values, and gender roles. But the prevailing racial segregation and discrimination of the era meant that persons of color would have experienced a different 1920s from most white US residents, though there was, as there is today, significant diversity within each racial group, with women of different backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses embracing fashion and beauty in their own unique ways.  

Beauty trends made their way through diverse communities.  
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Beauty trends made their way through diverse communities. 

And only four years before Modern Beauty Shop launched, white women in the United States were (finally) granted the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  This right did not, however, extend to Black Women; not until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were voting rights of disenfranchised Black women, and other minority groups protected. 

Speaking generally—because styles tended to move through a society—these were some of the “trending” looks of the time, many, like the “bob”, reflecting the greater freedom and individual expression that came with the times and with the long overdue right to vote:

Bobbed Hair: The "bob" haircut, where women cut their long hair short, was a symbol of liberation and modernity for women in the 1920s.

Finger Waves: Finger waves were a popular hairstyle that involved creating S-shaped waves in short hair, giving it a sleek and elegant look.

This cloche hat perfectly offset the face-framing bob.  
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This cloche hat perfectly offset the face-framing bob. 

Cloche Hats: These close-fitting, bell-shaped hats were often worn low on the forehead and matched well with short, bobbed hairstyles.

Dark Lipstick: Deep, bold lip colors like deep red and plum were in vogue, often accompanied by a Cupid's bow shape.

Marcelling Irons: Women used marcelling irons to create defined, deep waves and curls in their hair, a style that added texture and volume.

This is a modern-day photo illustrating the timeless beauty of some of the 1920s looks--the smokey eye, the defined lip, and the drama of a headpiece.  
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This is a modern-day photo illustrating the timeless beauty of some of the 1920s looks--the smokey eye, the defined lip, and the drama of a headpiece. 

THE MORE THINGS STAY THE SAME

Recently, I was gifted two issues of Modern Beauty Shop (thank you, Rick Thornton, of Alaska’s Artic Beauty Supply!), and as I page through the July and December 1939 editions, it’s obvious that the more things change, the more some remain the same.

 The issue is heavy on How-Tos, with tutorials and step-by-step technicals outlining sectioning, placement of rollers, and top tips for permanent waves. We learn how to transform a tailored daytime look into a “fluffy, evening style”:

“Hair must do more than merely ‘go up’ this season…it must ‘go up with a purpose.’ In other words, today’s smart coiffure is not the unimaginative and all too familiar exponent of the comb-your-own-hair school, featuring the straight up swoop topped by a bundle of unwieldy curls; it is, rather, a carefully thought out design for the individual who wears it.” (From Modern Beauty Shop, July 1939, an article titled, “For Day or Night” by Louise Schmidt of Ernest Your Hairdresser in Detroit, Michigan.)

The key to unlocking productivity remains a timeless challenge.  
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The key to unlocking productivity remains a timeless challenge. 

In this same issue is an article by Louis Lerner called, “No Time on My Hands!”  which illustrates that stylists and salons have been dealing with no-shows forever, and that not having a good strategy for schedule keeping and booking can cost you money.  Also, spending too much time on the phone pre-dates mindless iPhone scrolling…

The callouts read:

  • Does a last-minute permanent wave cancellation leave you with time on your hands?
  • Does inefficient booking make you run behind time on your appointments?
  • Do inopportune telephone conversations waste precious appointment time?
  • Louis Lehner says, “Time saved is money earned.” Operating on that principle, he has eliminated time wasters in his beauty shop.

There is reporting from across the industry in “The News Parade,”  with full-page coverage of the goings-on of the different associations. It also includes mentions of salon openings, beauty shows, and in-person classes. I’d have brought my best macaroni salad to this one:

“In Wisconsin, association activity planned during Summer months include a picnic on August 9 at Cedar Lake for the Milwaukee Hairdressers and Cosmetologist and a gathering of officers and directors of the Wisconsin Hairdressers and Cosmetologists at the Summer home of Mrs. Prohaska at Pewaukee Lake on July 9.”  

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Then there's the advertisements, with beautiful imagery from brands you have known and loved for many years...

Wella, a German haircare company, was founded in 1880, and has a long, rich history.  
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Wella, a German haircare company, was founded in 1880, and has a long, rich history. 

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MODERN

Today, MODERN SALON continues to serve the evolving beauty and salon industry—and we want to help shape that evolution.  Our commitment to staying relevant and informative—in an industry where new trends, technologies, and techniques emerge every day—involves tapping into a diversity of voices and celebrating the beauty makers and the game changers.

As 2024 unfolds, everyone at TEAM MODERN is beyond excited to celebrate our hair-itage while also thinking about what we as a media title, as a community, and as an industry can do better.  We want our next 100 years to be as diverse and inclusive as the world we celebrate.  

If you have ideas you’d like to see explored or hot topics you want us to touch-on, get in touch!

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Originally posted on Modern Salon