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What Is a Hood Hair Dryer?

Lori Kilchermann
Lori Kilchermann

A hood hair dryer is a device used to dry hair and is typically found in a salon or beauty shop. Consisting of a large circular bonnet mounted on an adjustable arm and having a flexible air hose extending from a heating and blower unit mounted below the assembly, a typical hood hair dryer is attached to a padded chair providing a comfortable sitting position while a customer's hair is being dried. Used to dry hair evenly while in curlers or after being styled, the hood hair dryer uses gently circulating warm air instead of the powerful blowing action of the modern hand-held blow-drying units used in many hair styling shops.

Popularized in the movies, the hood hair dryer was often positioned in a row with several women sitting under the dryers reading magazines and gossiping. The units were often too noisy to actually hold a conversation while a patron was under the bonnet, however, the hood hair dryer was not so loud as to be irritating or harmful to those who used it. The units remain in use today in many salons and shops to set permanents and color treated hair. Not as speedy as a hand-held blow dryer, the hood-type dryers offer complete drying at a controlled and gentle heat setting.

Woman posing
Woman posing

When buying a used hood hair dryer, there are basically two elements to examine closely to indicate the unit's condition. The most important component to examine in most cases is the heating and blowing element. The general condition of the chair is easily repairable by recovering the material with a new and modern design. The hood is the other component to examine closely. A cracked or damaged bonnet or hood is sometimes difficult to repair or replace. Often a scratched or cloudy hood can be polished back to a like-new luster.

Vintage hood hair dryer units are commonly used to decorate a salon or home hair stylist's office. Sometimes the hood is reconfigured into a lamp or flower planter. A piece of history in many beauty shops, the hood hair dryer is an iconic feature of women's hair styling in the 1950s and 1960s. The beautician was responsible for timing the patrons' stay under the hood hair dryer, with too much time under the bonnet often resulting in a damaged hair style and an irate customer. The hair dryer was often the last step in a finished product that sent women down the wedding aisle or off to a first date.

Discussion Comments


Even though the days of me getting a perm every few months are long gone, I still remember sitting under many hooded hair dryers. There is something very relaxing about it as you leisurely sit there and read a magazine.

You can get the job done faster if you use a hand held dryer, but there is something nostalgic about the old hooded hair dryers, and I always enjoy seeing them pictured in different movies with all the women lined up in a row.

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