CHEMISTRY IN PERMANENT WAVING--PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE* By Ma,c.t J. SUTER. President, Eugene Ltd., Brooklyn, N.Y. A mscussxoN of chemistry in permaner•t waving can be either very technical, or it can be general in character. This discussion will be rather general. The technical aspects will be stressed more fully by Dr. Eugene F. Traub and by Mr. Raymond Reed, who follow me shortly. Why do we have permanent wav- ing? We have permanent waving because it is the misfortune of women to be born with straight hair in most instances. There are no accurate statistics which state what percentage have straight hair and what percentage have curly hair. As a result of surveys, which we made some years back, we came to the conclusion that fully 80% of all women are born with straight hair. Since time immortal, it has also been women's fondest hope and dream to have curly hair, since in- variably it is more becoming to them. How did they obtain curls in their hair in the old days? As far back as the early Egyptian civilization women would roll their hair up on * Presented at the May 13, 1947, Meet- ing, New York City. i -wooden sticks and cover same with mud from the banks of the Nile. They would then sit in the hot sun until the mud was dry. This pro- duced some sort of curl, which dis- appeared, however, when the hair was washed. It seems rather strange that from that time until modern civilization-- to be exact, around 1910--hair was always curled by means of a curling iron or by boiling it in water. This, however, never resulted in a lasting wave. When the hair was sham- pooed after a treatment, it again became straight. I spoke a minute ago, about boiling a curl into hair with ordi- nary water. Since, of course, you cannot take a woman's head and boil it in water, wig-makers would make chignons and other hair pieces by boiling hair on wooden curlers for five to six hours. They would then fasten all these curls together and make wigs which women of 'the 18th and 19th centuries wore on dif- ferent occasions. It is noteworthy that until 1910 no research was attempted to see why some .hair was straight and some curly, and why boiling in 103
104 JOURNAL OF THE SOCIETY OF COSMETIC CHEMISTS water would produce a curl. We should also note that until com- paratively recently, very little re- search had been done on the nature of. what we call the perm.anent waving of hair. This will become more apparent as we cover the re- cent years of development in this field. Modern, so-called permanent waving started right after the turn of the century in London, England: Three persons, who today are ac- cepted as pioneers in permanent waving, to wit: Charles Nessler, E. Frederics, and Eugene Surer, each working independently, found that the addi. tion of chemicals, •uch as borax, to water, under the in- fluence of heat, would curl hair and would survive several shampooings and washings of the h.air. The method of producing heat, however, was very crude and neces- sitated lon, g hours to produce a curl in. a whole head of hair. After many hit-and-miss experiments, spe- cial electrical heaters were devel- oped, and then complete machines which •:ontained sufficient heaters to heat all the wound strands of hair at the same time. In those days, hair was wound by what is called the spiral system of winding--that is, starting from the roots to the ends. The borax pads were very clumsy, and after baking the hair they had to be chiseled off to break the hard. borax crust. Na- turally, in those days they tried to keep the hair in as good condition as possible, but you can see that after actual baking, at hig-h temperature, the hair was' left in a rather sad state. At that time, however, that was unimportant--the principal objective was to produce a curl which would last a long time. Progress in permanent waving re- mained pretty well static in Europe and England until World War I. At that time Nessler and Frederics came to thJs country, and in 1922 Surer came over to the United States to start his own company. Then, for the first time,øthe prob- lem of rewaving hair presented it- .self, and you might be interested to hear how this was originally han- dled. Two-sectional heaters were constructed which would heat only the lower part of the heater--that is, the section closest to the s6alp--and would heat only slightly, if at all, that portion which was farthest from the scalp. Around 1924 ammonium hydrox- ide first came into use in connection with borax, and, this materially shortened the heating time neces- sary to produce curl. It is inter- esting to note that the introduction of ammonium hydroxide and the subsequent introduction of other chemicals, such as amines, am-. monium derivatives, borates, car- bonates, phosphates and sulfites, were not developed by careful and laborious work. in research labora- tories. The principal manufacturers knew that certain chemicals would wave hair so they mixed up batches of solutions and would then try out each on innumerable heads of hair .. until they ,hit upon a solution which
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