1960 Home Spa Days

#haircolor #1960s #siblings

Two bored sisters created an At-Home-Spa-Day in the Summer of 1960. It wasn’t in their budgets to pay hairdressers for cutting, styling, or coloring—my Aunt changed my Mom’s partly gray hair into a warm Auburn color.

The do-it-yourself project was successful. Their friends and family members wanted to join in on the cost savings projects and the promise of future spa days.

*Disclaimer to Clairol, L’Oréal, and any other hair product companies—No one in this story remembers which hair products were used, and the ladies accepted personal responsibility for the outcome.

Mom sipped her morning coffee at my Aunt’s silver dining table with the white Formica top. “What do you want to do today? Play Canasta?” Mom raised from her chair and looked out the window. “The kids are having fun in the sprinklers.”

Aunt carried her home-made muffins on a tray with her canned blackberry jam and set it next to Mom. “I have an idea. I found a box of Permanent Solution under my bathroom sink. Are you game for an At-Home-Spa-Day, Part Two?” My Aunt bit into her fluffy, warm muffin. “We don’t have time to invite anyone else, though.”

“You want a perm? But your hair is so wavy and silky. Mine’s stick straight.” Mom grimaced. “I could use the curls. That would be wonderful.”

“We colored your hair two weeks ago. Is it too soon to mess with it?” Aunt inspected Mom’s shoulder-length hair.

Mom shrugged, “I don’t think so.”

“Okay, then. After breakfast.”

The box of solution, a hand mirror, and a comb lay on the table in front of Mom.

Aunt cloaked Mom in a plastic poncho, clasped it together with one wood clothespin, and handed Mom another.

Mom opened the clothespin and took a breath, “Here goes.” She pinched it over the end of her nose.

Aunt plugged her nose with her clothespin. She poured the solution over Mom’s curlers, saturated each one, and put a plastic cap over Mom’s head. “I’ll set the timer.”

After twenty minutes, Aunt tested one curl. “It’s still straight. I’ll set it for ten more minutes.”


Aunt tested a different curler, “It’s not curling. Do you want me to leave it on longer?”

“My hair is just stubborn. Five more, then we give up.”

At the end of the five minutes, Aunt unwrapped a curler on the crown of Mom’s head, and then another.

“So how did it turn out?” Mom tipped her head forward.

“Hm.” Aunt stopped unwrapping curlers.


Aunt held her hand in front of Mom. Two curlers lay in her palm, both contained Auburn locks of hair still wound around them.

What?” Mom’s hand flew to the top of her head. Curlers with hair plopped onto her lap and bounced off the table. Mom snatched a curler and inspected her lock. “It feels like Barbie doll hair! It’s melted and stuck together!”

Aunt held the mirror up for Mom to see her reflection. It revealed a head of perfect, half inch curls.

They burst into tears, then giggled and laughed until they couldn’t breathe.

“You know, I kind of like it, Sis.” Mom patted her curls. “I’ll get used to it. It’s my husband I’m worried about. What will he say when he comes to pick me up?”

“Your hubby is so good about everything, but will he hate me after this?”

The doorbell rang.

“I’ll answer. It was my idea to perm my hair.” Mom opened the door to my Dad.

Dad retreated a step and gasped, “Oh, Babe, what did you do?”

Mom explained.

Dad smooched Mom on her cheek. “At least your hair isn’t green this time.”





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