Electric Boogaloo: Clairol’s contribution to my head

Like so many subscribers to the philosophy that “Today is the first day of the rest of my life,” one of the items on my New Year’s todo list is to clean up a drawer or cabinet or closet a day. Yesterday I pulled out my Clairol electric roller appliance. Can anyone help me figure out how old this thing is?

It’s missing a whole row of curlers. Those silver rods which heat them stare back at me like dental roots. If you’ve ever had a cap or root canal, you know what I’m talking about. The gaping hair appliance looks as if someone with a hammy fist smashed out Clairol’s teeth. Made me wonder where I might have left those rollers and when? And are they replaceable? Does Clairol still make this kind of thing?

Mostly seeing this piece of my personal history, makes me feel old. They became popular when I was in high school. Which means there was a time in my life when there was no such thing as electric rollers.

Of course, my mother did have a beautician give me a duck tail in the second grade. I felt humiliated, shorn of 95% of my hair, I felt like the proverbial ugly duckling and decided I would never have short hair again.

I started setting my mop in the fifth grade. My awareness of the other sex started around then and it became essential that I never appear at school with unkempt hair. Rollers in those days were round wire tubes with a brush inside and netting over them. I washed my hair every single night, set it in these French Revolution items of torture, capped my head with the plastic hood of a hair dryer and went to sleep too the drone of vanity. I did this every single night of my life until the invention of electric rollers.

I’m trying to remember all the different curlers in my life? The skinny plastic ones of my childhood to achieve the perfect (and still popular) Shirley Temple ringlets, the spongy foam ones that were comfortable to sleep in but gave my hair a flat lopsided look, and pin curls. Sometime in my life before rollers of any sort, there were bobby pins! How important it was that each little strand of hair was twisted in an exact circle. A sloppy job with pin curls led to taunts on the play ground. Ironically in high school, there was a time,long before it was ecologically correct, when I went in the opposite direction using coke cans instead of rollers.

But then, Clairol appeared on the scene with the perfect solution: electric rollers and I used them for years with only a brief four-year period in there when I ironed my hair to get it as straight as a nail.

I’m putting the rollers in a Salvation Army bag. I figure some collector out there will have extra rollers to fill in the gaps and will sell it on ebay for 20.00+40.00 for shipping.

Or maybe I’ll just shove it back into the cupboard, close the door, and forget about it. That way I can pretend that my younger self is still a round…at least a little bit.

5 thoughts on “Electric Boogaloo: Clairol’s contribution to my head

  1. Sarah Hilary

    Oh my mum still uses rollers like these! I used to borrow them when I was about 13 (which is thirty years ago, give or take). They had wax inside that melted when they were heated and then set as they cooled on your head. I can remember that sugary smell of scalded hair…

  2. Jane

    Gay, there were no coke cans way back then! You used orange juice and lemonade cans. She, I always thought you were so cool because you used them! I swear you had that set of Clairol rollers the last time you lived at home (the summer before you were married) so they are at least that old. Do you remember (I know, I know – you don’t) the first version of blow dryers? It was a brush on the end of a stick that blew air? Gayle Farnum was who introduced them to our family. So Iowa taught California once…I loved the front bathroom because of you forever! Until it was remodeled probably. In the cabinets were always sacks of your old rollers (the wire ones) and under the sink were the bath powders (Mr. Bubble for me and Calgon for you). The drawer had your makeup in it. A little sister’s DREAM. Do you remember (oh that again) when we had glass shelves on the wall in there by the sink? I can’t believe I remember that! And the heater in the wall. I loved that thing. In high school I would go in, turn on the shower, and just lay on the floor by the heater while mom thought I was showering, and then I would hop in and out as fast as I could, and get right back on the floor by the heater. I think my “showers” were half hour affairs.Other things I remember were the shelves on your wall – and that you always kept your Barbie (Midge) in the original box on the top shelf so I couldn’t get it. I still have the doll, but not the box or the immaculate clothes. Sorry – but I probably regret that more than my unsentimental sister!

  3. Gay Degani

    I remember the glass shelves, kind of. I’m not sure I agree with the blow dryer thing, but then you always have had a better memory than me. And Barbie??? I never played with Barbie. I may have had a Barbie doll but only for show or to have one. I was much to old by the time they came out. My first doll that I remember was called a Toni doll, named for the permanent wave company. Her hair was brown and I pretty much destroyed it. Sometime in the fifties….

  4. sylvia

    You know, I was sure I’d written a response to this. I must have thought it and not written it down!I’m pretty sure there’s still a set of electric rollers at my mother’s as well which I left when I moved out. It was missing at least three rollers, if not more.I don’t know why I ever bothered – I have long fine straight hair and no curl has ever stayed in my hair for more than 7 minutes.I hope all is well and that you are writing lots!


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