A 1947 4-Pin-Curl Formula for vintage waves tutorial

From the October 1947 issue of Modern Beauty Shop, Carmen Dirigo, a head hairstylist at Universal Pictures, illustrates a 4-Curl Formula she sculpts and pins on the starlets she styles. It is a well written, informative tutorial on a pin curl set that will get you to vintage waves.

Her model in this article is Ann Blyth, known by many of us as Veda, Mildred’s high maintenance daughter in the 1945 movie Mildred Pierce. Mildred Pierce is a must see classic movie and the hairstyles in it are fabulous.

I broke down the basics here for you, but I would suggest reading the full article. There is a ton of information in it about pin curl direction and pinning for different vintage looks. Download the entire original article by clicking here. And, as always, for more detailed information on pin curls and how to create them, see my book, Vintage Hairstyling: Retro Styles with Step-by-Step Techniques or the instruction booklet that comes with the Sculpture Pin Curl Tool.

As It’s Done in Hollywood:

A 4-Curl Formula

To Fit Varied Styling Needs

by Carmen Dirigo, Head Hairstylist, Universal Pictures

Posed by Ann Blyth, Universal Pictures Star

Time is a strict taskmaster in the hairdressing department of a Hollywood movie studio, where work must be dovetailed with rigid production schedules. That is why it is important to use the particular routine that is right and speediest for a particular job. Carmen Dirigo, who styles for the stars at Universal, now gives you a behind-the-scenes view of some of her studio techniques in these pictures.

Ann Blyth’s moderately long bob falls in rippling waves, a favorite Hollywood coif of easy-to-do curls

Stand-up Pin Curl

1. Block a wide strand and wind it around two fingers. Comb stem up.

2. Wound curl is held in place with pin at base, hairpin across top.

3. Position of the curls shows direction the wave will take.

Roll Curl

4. A cylindrical form is used to shape the open-center roll curl

5. Fewer curls are a reason for the popularity of this quick-drying method

Pin Curl

6. Tip of the hair is wound around one finger only to make a firm pin curl

7. Tail comb is inserted under stem of the curl to shape wave ridge close to head

8. For curlier ends, “creep” up strand from the tip

Finger Curl

9. Rolling the hair over one finger gives a tight curl

10. Bob pins are inserted in each open end of finger curl to hold curl near scalp

11. Pattern shows stand-up curls in toplock, finger curls around head

You might also like: Hair Curlers and Pin Curls in Public… Yes go for it!

Combing Out

12. Clips secure deep waves while another section is being brushed

The rest of the article, that you can download here, goes on to describe in detail Dirigo’s techniques.

During the Golden Age of Hollywood, makeup artistry was dominated by men, but women ruled behind the chair. Universal Pictures hairstylist Carmen Dirigo helped sculpt 1940s hair beauty. She worked on over 100 films between the years of 1935-1972, but most of her work was done in the 1940s. She died June 25, 2007.

Happy Hairstyling!

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  1. Ah, the 70s….. hours of setting lotion on wet hair, a full set of rollers, backcombing and lacquer. I was not able to maintain this as a young mum……. but I looked good when I did do it!

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Welcome to the Bobby Pin Blog! I am Lauren Rennells and as a hairstylist, makeup artist, writer, and generally artistic over-achiever, the Bobby Pin Blog is my outlet for thoughts and research about vintage hair and makeup trends and how to recreate them today. Thank you for stopping by!

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