The perm, the hairstyle that dominated the 70s, 80s and even 90s. Meg Ryan, Cher, Barbara Streisand, Dolly Parton, Julia Roberts and even Justin Timberlake have all been partial to a perm.

The hairstyle has a rich history, dating back to 1872, when Marcel Grateau invented a technique for thermal heating hair using tongs. The tongs had two arms, one of which had a circular cross-section whilst the other was concaved, so that one fitted inside the other when the tongs were closed.

Gas or an alcohol flame were used to heat the tongs, which would first be tested on newspaper, if it browned the tongs were hot enough. No health and safety measures there then...

Styles created using the Marcel tongs Styles created using the Marcel tongs


The Waveomatic and Mervin wave hair clips were used to create finger waves. The products could be purchased from Sears from the 1920s.

The large spring loaded clips featured two small combs which, when set in the hair, create the finger wave style.

mervi mervi

Television and theater star Bette Davis and actress, singer, dancer Bebe Daniels both sported finger waves during the 1920s and 1930s.

Pook & Pook's Online Only Decorative Arts Auction will take place on December 13. Search Pook & Pook on Barnebys here.