Hair shaping techniques for forming vintage hairstyles use basic techniques that anyone can do. In the 1940s, the curve and curls of a hairstyle started with design and planning. The cut, the pin curl pattern and the brushout were all well thought out to achieve the final shape.
But, today, we don’t put the same prep work into our hairstyles. Our haircuts aren’t designed the same way and so these vintage forms and shapes need to be created using different techniques.
The images below show the prep work of a layered, medium-length haircut and a strong pin curl wet set for the above vintage roll. The layers and strong curl set are what give the hairstyle the strength to defy gravity and hold its shape.
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Shaping and Forming Techniques
Shaping and forming vintage silhouettes without the strong pin curl set or a haircut designed for the look can be tricky, but, with a few extra tools, is very possible. Here are the steps to take. (This tutorial is a short excerpt from the book, Vintage Hairstyling: Retro Styles with Step-by-Step Techniques 3rd Edtion.)
This hairstyle, called the Violet, may appear simple enough and it is, once you understand the base design that gives it its shape. This hairstyle comes from the 3rd edition of Vintage Hairstyling: Retro Styles with Step-by-Step Techniques.
Tools you will need:
- hot rollers or medium curling iron
- thermal spray
- rattail comb
- teasing and smoothing brush
- duckbill clips
- bobby pins
- 2 bouffant size hairnets
- classic dome barrette
Back brush the base section of hair with a teasing and smoothing brush to increase its size. The size and shape of this section will directly effect the final shape and size of the style, so plan accordingly.
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Wrap an invisible nylon hairnet around the form. A bouffant size hairnet was used here. Bobby pin the hairnet to the hair at the scalp to keep it from slipping off.
Lower hair above the hairnetted section and fasten it at the top with your tool of choice. You can use bobby pins or a domed barrette like this one.
We want this hair to fan out from the top and cover the hairnetted section. Start by back brushing the hair to spread the hair and lock it together.
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Smooth over the top of the hair with a teasing and smoothing brush. This brush works well because the bristles do not dig too deep into the hair and won’t grab at the hairnet underneath.
Comb the hair so that it radiates down and out and around the hairnet covering it. Careful not to dig too deep with the comb and snag the hairnet underneath.
With a 2nd bouffant sized hairnet, wrap the hair form to secure it for a lasts-all-day style. Secure with bobby pins.
The round shape of the final 1940s chignon is full enough that it can be seen from the front. That is an important consideration when you are styling a hairstyle, especially for a special occasion or a photoshoot. It’s nice to see the hairstyle from the front as well.