The Beauty Bubble Brings Vintage Style To The High Desert
Speaker 1: (00:00)
The California report magazine visit some of the best secret spots across the state for their yearly hidden gem show. One of them is in nearby Joshua tree. When people talk about the area, they often use words like striking or spectacular, but local beauty isn't confined to the national park. There's no ASIS of style in this small desert community. And as reporter Peter Gilstrap found out it's part salon, part museum and all roadside attraction
Speaker 2: (00:30)
Outside on highway 62, the temperature is well into three digits, but inside the beauty bubble salon and museum, it's a cool and constant 69 degrees with a strong chance of time work.
Speaker 3: (00:42)
You're welcome to walk through. Let me using him. That's my life's work. It's 30 years of collecting everything back there. They call me America's hair story. And now it's like, oh my God, somebody had to do it
Speaker 2: (00:54)
Since 2004. Jeff Hayflick has been the owner operator of the beauty bubble currently housed in a 1940s. One bedroom bungalow turned storefront floor to ceiling wall to wall. The place is crammed with some 3000 beauty care artifacts. Going back over a hundred years, you'll see vintage advertisements, framed magazine covers, and a rack of unopened hair nets from the twenties and thirties with names like bond, Bonton, Jacko, net, and pretty miss you'll see Elvis and Dolly Parton looking down at you from black velvet and you'll see aging mechanical beauty devices that look like instruments of torture in the back room on a deco dresser. There's a matching set of pink mirrors, brushes and jars. With a note that says Marian's dresser set from the forties found in mom's attic donated by her daughter.
Speaker 3: (01:46)
And almost the entire time I've been collecting. People have been donating these random beauty things to the collection like rollers and clips and breaths. Someone threw a bag of rollers in the front door and said, here's grandma's rollers. We didn't want to throw them away. You
Speaker 2: (01:59)
Ever turn anything down? That's donated.
Speaker 3: (02:02)
No, but that's part of the problem,
Speaker 2: (02:06)
But that is what makes the place so unique included with your modern day cuts, colors and curls comes the sensory and golfing overkill of it all taking you on a journey to a bygone era of luxurious beauty.
Speaker 3: (02:18)
Okay. One of the most common comments is that it reminds people of their mother or their grandmother. And I love that because I was close with my grandmother. I like old ladies trinkets. So
Speaker 2: (02:32)
What brings you to
Speaker 4: (02:35)
Everything brings me to the beauty of bubble.
Speaker 2: (02:38)
Heather Morgan is sitting in a salon chair wearing a big smile and a platinum blonde pixie cut crafted by Hayflick. She's been a regular at the bubble since she relocated from LA back in 2017. But our big city hair fits right in with the high desert aesthetic.
Speaker 4: (02:55)
The people in the desert who go out and rock their LA style. I thought I would have to like stop going platinum or become some old desert rag. But Jeff is out here paving the way for style.
Speaker 2: (03:12)
Hey, flu grew up in Pickerington, Ohio, just outside of Columbus, where he went to beauty school back then he fell in love with a 1940s hairdryer. It sparked an interest in the vintage tools of his new found trade.
Speaker 3: (03:25)
For that first year, I was just collecting and decorating my bathroom with it. And I thought, well, this is fascinating history, and this is beautiful, interesting stuff. So I was 20 years old and I said, I'm going to make a roadside attraction, beauty parlor museum. And so here I am 29 years later and I'm living that dream
Speaker 2: (03:46)
17 years ago. Hey, flew in his husband jewelry designer. Michael Wynn bought a home in wonder valley, a dot on the desert map, 30 miles east of Joshua tree. It's an unincorporated land of rough dirt roads and endless horizons. And it's such a rural part of San Bernardino county home salons were and are still legal and who was coming out. I mean, it was,
Speaker 3: (04:09)
I think we have like the high society of the high Tesser. This is what I call them.
Speaker 2: (04:14)
Those early clients have stayed loyal, but here in Joshua tree where hateful or moved his salon in 2015, a steady stream of tourists and locals. And first-timers wander into gawk at the display Pasha Simpson and Cordelia Reynolds are making their way through Hayflick's beloved trove of old lady trinkets. This is the first time you guys have been here.
Speaker 5: (04:34)
Yeah. And it's really awesome. You just walk into this little Wonderland. I love places that have so much history and like to have taken such care, to collect amazing stuff
Speaker 2: (04:45)
Like Heather Morgan mental does another former Angeleno. She and her boyfriend live a sustainable lifestyle off the grid in the nearby community of Landers. So if you're off grid, how do you maintain your beauty standards?
Speaker 5: (04:59)
I mean, it's a struggle. I should come here and get my hair washed because I haven't had hot water in two years,
Speaker 2: (05:07)
You don't have to travel to the desert to see Hey collection. He had a recent show at the SFO museum in San Francisco's airport, featuring vintage beauty items and the sculptures he creates from discarded haircare of Femara. But that's not all,
Speaker 3: (05:20)
You know, I dream about building a geodesic dome and making it look like a giant hairdryer. The beauty museum would be housed in the world's largest hairdryer. It just has to happen
Speaker 2: (05:32)
Like the miles of hair that got him here. He flew his dream in the desert, never stops growing.
Speaker 1: (05:38)
That was Peter Gill strap reporting on one of the state's hidden gems, the beauty bubble inside Joshua tree
Speaker 6: (05:44)
The sun-scorched desert terrain of Joshua Tree is striking, stunning and glorious. But local beauty isn’t confined to the national park. In this small high-desert community, Jeff Hafler has created an oasis of style that’s part salon, part museum and all roadside attraction.
Welcome to the Beauty Bubble Salon and Museum.
It's the kind of spot where hair care baubles — even grandma's worn-out rollers — are revered as historical discoveries.
Outside on Highway 62, the temperature is well into three digits. But inside the Beauty Bubble, it’s a cool and constant 69 degrees, with a strong chance of time warp.
Walk on in and the vintage hair products take you back to the decades of yesteryear. Hafler greets you flashing a photo-ready grin — part endearing host, part fast-talking emcee, part carnival ringmaster.
“You’re welcome to walk through the museum so I would start in the back. It’s my life’s work,” he says. “It’s 30 years of collecting back there. They call me America’s 'hairstorian,' now. Somebody had to do it!”
As a couple leaves the shop, he yells out, “Hair’s to ya!"
"I’ve got all my puns. I should have an animatronic version of me standing at the door," he says. "Put in a quarter and I go through my whole thing.”
Since 2004, Hafler has been the owner-operator of the Beauty Bubble, currently housed in a 1940s one-bedroom bungalow turned storefront. Floor to ceiling, wall to wall, the place is crammed with some 3,000 beauty care artifacts going back over 100 years.
"I thought, this is fascinating history. And this is beautiful, interesting stuff. So I was 20 years old and I said, 'I'm going to make a roadside attraction, beauty parlor museum.' And so here I am, 29 years later, I'm 49 now. And I'm living that dream."
There are vintage advertisements, framed magazine covers and unopened hair nets from the '20s and '30s with names like Bon Ton, Jac-O-Net and Pretty Miss. Outlandish wigs sit on sloe-eyed mannequin heads. Along with the portraits of Elvis Presley and Dolly Parton painted on black velvet are aging mechanical devices that look like instruments of torture. On a deco dresser, there’s a matching set of pink mirrors, brushes and jars with a note that says, “Marion’s dresser set from the 40s, found in Mom’s attic. Donated by her daughter.”
“Almost the entire time I've been collecting, people have been donating these random beauty things ... like rollers and clips and barrettes,” he says. “Someone threw a bag of rollers in the front door and said, 'Here's grandma's rollers! We didn't want to throw ’em away!'”
To paraphrase Will Rogers, Hafler is a man who never saw a beauty item he didn’t like.
“That's part of the problem. That's part of the disease, right? I can't say no!,” he says.
But that’s what makes the place unique. Included with your modern-day cuts, colors and curls comes the sensory-engulfing overkill of it all, taking you on a journey to a bygone era of beauty care.
“One of the most common comments is that it reminds people of their mother or their grandmother,” says Hafler. “I hear that multiple times every week. And I love that because I was close with my grandmother. I'm very close with my mother and, you know, it's true. I like old ladies' trinkets.”
Heather Morgan is sitting in a salon chair wearing a big smile and a platinum blonde pixie cut crafted by Hafler. She’s been a regular at the Beauty Bubble since she relocated from Los Angeles in 2017.
“There's a lot of people in the desert who go out and rock their LA style,” she says. “So I didn't have to change my hair or my style. I thought I would have to, like, stop going platinum or become some old desert rag. But Jeff is out here paving the way for style.”
Hafler grew up in Pickerington, Ohio, just outside of Columbus, where he went to beauty school. Back then, he fell in love with a 1940s hairdryer — it’s still on display. That hairdryer sparked an interest in the vintage tools of his newfound trade.
“For that first year I was just collecting and decorating my bathroom with it,” he says. “And I thought, this is fascinating history. And this is beautiful, interesting stuff. So I was 20 years old and I said, 'I'm going to make a roadside attraction, beauty parlor museum.' And so here I am, 29 years later, I'm 49 now. And I'm living that dream.”
In 2004, Hafler and his husband, jewelry designer Mikal Winn, bought a home in Wonder Valley, a dot on the desert map 30 miles east of Joshua Tree.
It’s an unincorporated land of rough dirt roads and endless horizons. And it’s such a rural part of San Bernardino County that home salons were, and are still, legal.
Says Hafler, “I had the 'high society of the high desert,' is what I call them. Business owners, retired artists, Hollywood actresses. And we live next to a pretty large Marine base here and I would get the general's wives and officer's wives. I mean, you name it!”
Those early clients have stayed loyal. But here in Joshua Tree — where Hafler moved his salon in 2015 — a steady stream of tourists and locals wander in to gawk at the display.
But these days, Jeff Hafler is not styling any new heads. He’s turning his focus to selling his vintage items and curating his ever-expanding museum.
“Since I turned my lobby into a gift shop, it's doing so well that I don't have to cut hair anymore,” he says. “And I was ready to stop. I'm going to maintain a handful of dear clients that I've done for 17 years. But I have three incredible stylists that rent the chairs, so we'll still have hairdos down at the Beauty Bubble four days a week.”
And Hafler is taking his trinkets on the road.
He had a recent show at the SFO Museum at the San Francisco International Airport featuring vintage beauty items and the sculptures he creates from discarded hair care ephemera. And there’s an upcoming documentary about the Beauty Bubble. If that weren't enough, Hafler has plans even past that.
“I dream about building a geodesic dome and making it look like a giant hairdryer, like that blue hairdryer up in the corner. So the beauty museum would be housed in the world's largest hairdryer. It just has to happen.”
Like the miles of hair that got him here, Hafler’s dream in the desert never stops growing.