We?ve been styling our hair since we lived in caves, but home hairdressing was taken to new heights when the first household hair dryers were invented in the 1920s, writes Belinda Jackson.

The rise of big hair in the 1980s then saw the introduction of straighteners and curling tongs to satisfy the whims of elaborate New Wave and punk ?dos, however it wasn?t until the late 90s that these tools really took off, when manufacturers started refining the products, many of which earned a bad rap for frying hair, leaving it split and frizzy.

Helping the boom in hair straighteners and curlers is the fact that the price of home hairdressing tools has dropped dramatically in the past couple of years, with straighteners available for as little as $35 up to $200, and curlers starting at about $30 up to $80.

New hair trends take into account our ability to get a salon hairstyle from our own bathrooms. This year, the bob is back, says top Australian hairdresser Barney Martin, with really short cuts above the jawline teamed with short, heavy fringes. Curls aren?t crispy, but rather wavy or loosely set, while the straightened hair appearing on catwalks hair is very smooth and shiny. In a nutshell, you?re not stuck with the hair you were born with.

What?s new?

One of the greatest drawbacks of using heated styling tools is the effect they have on hair. Excessive applications of heat, through blow-drying, straightening and curling, injure the hair cuticle, either breaking it or damaging it so that hair loses its elasticity and lustre.

Most innovations are focused around minimising hair damage, protecting it from split ends, frizz and dullness, as well as improving the convenience of the products with features once available only in expensive professional products, all wrapped up in more portable products with greater safety features.