'Good' and 'bad' shine: an examination of the material interactions in women's hair care in the UK

Hielscher, Sabine (2013) 'Good' and 'bad' shine: an examination of the material interactions in women's hair care in the UK. Journal of Design History, 26 (3). pp. 257-269. ISSN 0952-4649

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Academic historical research on hair has largely focused on the symbolic meanings of hairstyles, often overlooking the material impact of hair and hair care products on notions of what it is to have acceptable hair. This article traces the significance of the shininess of hair over time, a particular ‘state’ of hair that is not only discursively constructed but also physically experienced in everyday life. The significance of these sensual and physical interactions become apparent when investigating hair care as an area of ‘craft consumption’ where women ‘design’ their hair and, in the process, actively interact with a variety of hair care products. Drawing on an analysis of hair care adverts in the UK women’s magazine Women’s Weekly from 1911–1996, and an ethnography of women’s hair care routines at home, this article argues that material interactions with hair and hair care products play a key role when trying to create hair that looks and feels desirable. These interactions draw attention to the conflicting nature of achieving shiny hair, as it can be considered not only as ‘good’, but also as ‘bad’. Here, the shininess of hair is linked to notions of its health, manageability and cleanliness.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Depositing User: Users 7386 not found.
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2013 10:04
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2013 09:09
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/45355
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