Patent of the month June
After weeks of lockdown during Corona crisis, finally back to the hairdresser - for many a real boost to life quality. Enough reason to take a look at the hair trends in 2020 with an unexpected comeback: The perm is returning to the hairdresser’s shops!
The process for the permanent hairstyle was patented exactly 111 years ago by Karl (Charles) Ludwig Nessler in Great Britain under the number GB190920597 - our patent of the month of June.
Born in 1872 in Todtnau (Black Forest), the inventor led a life as a working nomad. After completing his apprenticeship in Germany, he gained international professional experience in Milan, Geneva and Paris and changed his first name to Charles.
Eventually, he settled in London and opened a hairdresser’s shop on exclusive Oxford Street. The inventor was initially successful with the production of artificial eyebrows and eyelashes and received his first patent for it in 1902.
Nessler's patented method of perming hair was a combination of chemical and mechanical-thermal components. The hair strands were soaked with borax solution, wound onto spiral winders and heated individually with pliers. His wife Katharina Laible was the first to be willing to test the method on herself. The first attempts were extremely painful, because the hot forceps burned her hair and on some of her scalp. Despite burn blisters and scorched hair it became clear that the principle worked and after further improvements, Nessler could apply for a patent for his idea on on February 6th, 1909.
During World War I, as a German and unwanted foreigner, Nessler emigrated to the USA and had to start from scratch again. However, this setback could not harm his inventive and entrepreneurial spirit. He founded a new company, improved the apparatus and promptly applied for a patent in the USA, and the triumphal march of the perm was unstoppable.
Over the years, more gentle methods have been developed for hair and scalp. After the Second World War, the so-called "cold wave" made it possible to completely dispense with thermal treatment. With the popular "Afro look", the perm faced its big boom in the 1970ies, thereafter it was long regarded out of question in most circles.
Currently the perm is being updated and shows it’s most modern side. The once stiff looking corkscrew curls are now replaced by large, soft falling curls.
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