Personal Care

A quality personal care product will have a small, quiet, powerful motor to do the job well, a well-sealed housing with few or no crevices to collect dirt, will handle easily and has clearly readable, easily set controls.


Both men and women are opting for carefree hair styles and equipment to keep their hair looking good with a minimum of time and effort. Handheld blower dryer/stylers are a sure way to accomplish this, and there are many to choose from.

Pistol-type models feature relatively high wattage (1,000-1,250) to dry hair rapidly. Styling is done by simultaneously shaping the hair with a brush.

Compact, lightweight, hand held dryers, averaging 8″ long, are usually midrange wattage, generally about 1,200. Often, handles fold down for storage and travel.

Other models combine the drying feature with comb, brush or de-tangler attachments. They usually offer 850-1,000 watts, but some offer adjustable power from 300 to 1,000 watts and airflow control from fast drying to soft styling.

Either kind provides from two to five temperature settings and can be used to style wet or dry hair.

New models have added safety features to help prevent electrocution should the dryer be immersed in water. This models are ideal, particularly in a home with children.

There’s also a hair-care center consisting of a power center with detachable hose which can be hooked up to a bonnet, pistol-type nozzle, brush or comb. It features 1,000/700/575 watts with three comfort settings: low speed/low heat, high speed/medium heat and high speed/high heat.

Soft- and hard-bonnet dryers share a few common traits: quick heating and drying (about 20-25 min.), number of heat settings (usually four-high, medium, low and cool), quiet operation, variety of accessories, lightweight and durable carrying case and ease of setup and dismantling.

A soft-bonnet dryer usually averages 300 to 400 watts and consists of a large, soft bonnet with elasticized headband. The small heater/blower unit is attached to the bonnet with long, flexible hose or is built into the bonnet with remote temperature control, in luggage-style carrying case, either hatbox or handbag shape.

Accessories for bonnet dryers include nail polish drying slots on blower, brush and comb, mirrors, hair rollers or spot-drying unit that is cup shaped to fit over one roller at a time.

Salon or hard-bonnet dryers consist of rigid plastic hood attached to base containing heater/blower by angled, collapsible support arm. With most of these dryers, arm folds into base and hood fits down over base to form a carrying case. These dryers average 900 to 1,000 watts.

The base also holds a mist unit, cord storage compartment, any other attachments plus extra storage space for rollers, pins, etc.


Hair setters usually consist of a kit including heating base fitted with thermostat-controlled heating posts that hold hair rollers, clips and small foam pads to cushion rollers so they don’t feel hot against scalp.

Rollers heat in eight or nine minutes, then can be rolled into dry hair and left for six to 15 minutes to set hair. The longer the rollers are left in, the firmer the set. Fifteen minutes is about maximum since rollers will cool.

Rollers should not be used in wet hair, nor should they be used every day, for they tend to leave hair dry and brittle.

In some hair setters, all posts are heating posts; in others, some are storage posts.

When rollers are hot, readiness is indicated by an indicator light on the heating unit or by a temperature-sensitive paint dot on each roller that turns dark when roller is hot. After indicator says rollers are ready, they continue to heat a while longer, then temperature stabilizes.

Price depends mostly on number of rollers, variation of size of rollers and whether or not the setter has mist or steam feature.

Features indicating better quality hair setters include quick warm-up, evenly heated rollers, low readiness temperature, carrying case with mirror, and lighted on/off switch.


Curling irons operate on the principle of wrapping hair around a heated element. They feature thermostat-controlled even heat, cool handles and long cords.

Some have a mist spray for firmer set and nonstick coating to prevent pulling hair (this also prevents rusting in mist spray). A heel rest is usually included or incorporated into the base of the wand.

An expanding barrel on some irons lets a woman choose the size of curl she wants without the use of additional attachments.

Some irons are cordless; they plug into a base heat source. Or, they may fold down to fit into a purse or suitcase.

Models often have swivel cords to prevent cord tangles


Men’s and ladies’ shavers are basic to any personal care line. Certain features are common to both-plug-in or cordless, detachable cords, removable shaving heads, vibration free, smooth shaving without nicking, pulling or scraping.

Shaving heads on men’s shavers are flat, curved or rotary; those on ladies’ shavers are usually flat. Flat or curved heads produce a back and forth motion with steel or stainless steel blades. Rotary heads have two or eight circular cutting heads all turning in the same direction.

Most shavers offer a grooming feature for beards, mustaches and sideburns. Some models will automatically adapt to any international current by means of a built-in charger.

Ladies’ shavers are smaller and may be styled in various colors with small lights. Models have separate or reversible shaving heads and/or adjustable comfort bars (some with up to five settings) that provide the right degree of closeness for underarms or legs. Cordless shavers will recharge in eight to 24 hours.


One problem women often encounter when applying makeup is that the result changes in appearance under different lighting conditions.

Lighted mirrors provide shadow and glare-free light around regular and magnifying mirrors in several settings to simulate indoor, outdoor, office and evening lighting.

These mirrors, depending on construction, swivel or tilt to preferred positions. Lights, either incandescent or fluorescent, are across the top or on either side of rectangular or square mirrors or encircle a round one.


Sun lamps produce the same tanning rays as the sun, and because the density of these rays can be several times stronger than the sun, users should be careful with exposure times and distances. Users should follow manufacturer recommendations on time and distance carefully to avoid burns.

Infrared heat lamps provide warmth to relieve aches and pains, but also pose danger of serious burns if not used properly.

Lamps are rated by hours of performance, from 2,000 to 5,000 hours, with the higher-rated lamps being more expensive.


Heating pads are another source of warmth for relieving minor aches and pains. Usually they have three to six settings ranging from 110º to 145º, a rubber or plastic inner cover to protect heating wires from moisture, illuminated control panel, and cloth outer covers. Regular size pads are 12″ x 15″ and king size are 12″ x 24″. Flexible band styles measure 6″ x 20″ and are equipped with straps to fasten around the body.

Moist heat types come with sponge pads that can be dampened and fit next to the heating pad with a terry cloth clover.


Handheld massagers offer several vibrating speeds from flat surface vibration to slower, penetrating motion. Infrared massagers add heat to vibration and usually have three heat settings but only one vibration speed. They can be used with or without heat. Swedish massagers fit on the back of the hand, and the vibration is transmitted through the user’s hand. They have single or dual speeds.

Foot massagers provide relief through the vibration of warm, swishing water.


Electric toothbrushes have a power handle that drives individual brushes up and down, back and forth or in an orbital motion. They can be plug-in or cordless, and come with stands that hold the power handle and four or six individual brushes.

Cordless brush stands contain the recharging base while plug-in stands function only as storage. The power unit is sealed against water but should not be left in standing water.

Most brushes have serrated bristles to work in and around teeth. Replacement brushes are available as are wall brackets and removable travel chargers.

Oral lavages use a jet of water to flush out food particles and to massage gums. These devices are especially good for cleaning partial dentures, bridges and orthodontic appliances.

Usually the lid of the unit is turned upside down to become a reservoir for water or mouthwashes, to which is attached a retractable plastic hose that holds the sprayer nozzle.


Items such as digital thermometers and electronic blood pressure monitors are now available for home use.

Digital thermometers are available in one and two-piece styles. One-piece thermometers resemble pencil-type glass thermometers, with the readout on the end of the unit. Two-piece styles feature a small, lightweight probe, linked to the readout by a flexible cord. Some feature beeper signals when the thermometer has reached peak temperature.

Electronic blood pressure monitors feature a digital readout meter with a connected arm cuff. No stethoscope is required with the units. Higher-end features include blood pressure reading printout, automatic inflation of arm cuff, pulse meter and clock. Units operate on penlight batteries.

Humidifiers relieve common winter problems connected with dry air, such as swollen sinuses, sore throat and dry skin. Recent technological breakthroughs have brought a new type of humidifier to the forefront-the ultrasonic humidifier. While warm mist humidifiers use heat to create the steam, and cool mist units use paddles and air pumps, the ultrasonic units break up the water with sound waves. Ultrasonic units are priced three to five times higher than conventional humidifiers, but they generally offer quieter operation and few refills.

No matter what type of humidifier you buy, water should be changed often and the unit should be cleaned frequently to remove any bacteria from standing water and ensure proper operation of the unit.

Energy Saving Tips
Don’t “piggyback” appliances-plugging more than one appliance into the same outlet. The circuit could overload, plus it takes both appliances longer to do their jobs. Don’t use extension cords unless you must-they’re not energy- efficient.
Operate appliance away from drafts so they don’t have to overwork to maintain temperature. Pressure cooking, pressure frying or stir-frying cuts cooking time and adds up to energy savings.
Keep appliances shipshape. Worn, frazzled electric cords can use extra energy and make other appliance parts work overtime to compensate. Follow directions carefully. Use a timer so you know when cooking time has elapsed.
Always follow manufacturer’s instructions for product capabilities and helpful hints.

Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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