Vintage Hair Tutorial: How to Get Vintage Curls

Hey curl-loving gals! 🙂 Lately, I’ve come to realize that the “vintage eras” (from 1920’s) had even more influence on fashion and hairstyle. If you’re a lady out there and haven’t noticed that a lot of women adore the trending vintage hairstyles, then you’ve definitely been missing out on all the fun in events like formal occasions and other special outings!

I’ve had to try out different vintage styles myself and trust me when I say that I almost had a tough time trying to get the perfect curls or waves to match my vintage clothes.  Hey, if you’re ready to learn how you can get that classy vintage hairstyle that you see celebrities wear to red carpet events, let’s jump right into it and I’ll show you very easy steps to get this done.

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Vintage Curls For Medium Hair

Even during times when I have my hair cut down to shoulder-length, it doesn’t make much of a difference ‘cause I still get to do so many vintage styles. So for you medium hair gals reading this, I’ll quickly run over my go-to method to get pretty looking vintage inspired curls.

What I always start with is the front curl. This works fine for me and I just grab about an inch of my front hair and brush it through with a teasing brush. Then using a straightener, I run it through the front hair from root to the ends to get a curl like this.

Almost immediately, I roll the hair into a curl and use a bobby pin or clip to pin it. You want to be pretty quick when doing this so as not to let the hair cool down before you get a nice curl. If you’ve ever seen nice vintage curls before, you’ll notice there’s always a nice big roll in the front. Yeah, so you just repeat the step above for 3 or 4 curls in front to get a pretty looking bangs.

Continue making side rolls all over your head using the straightener—ensuring that each curl is set before it cools. That’s the secret to get your curls lasting all day long! I always try to get a bit of volume on the crown and I don’t usually make these ones tight.

Once you’ve gotten all your pin curls, apply hairspray to make them set and wait for about 20 minutes to let your hair cool down. Gently declip and pull out the curls with your fingers. Then use a teasing brush and mold the curls into your desired look. To make it so much easier, you could just go in the direction which the curls have begun to set.

How To Get Vintage Waves

Occasionally, I make various glam Hollywood styles that distinguish me from other gals in a party. Lately, I‘ve fallen in love with Agent Carter and her lovely 40’s glam waves.

To put you through this, you’ll need a curling iron–say half inch depending on your preference, a brush, a teasing comb, heat protectant spray, a regular hairspray and some bobby pins. All set, so let’s get you rocking those nice glam curls.

With my hair washed the previous day, I brush through them to remove any tangles. My hair is pretty thick and coarse so I usually take smaller sections from the nape working all the way to the top and front. Before you start pin curling, apply a little heat protectant spray.

I run the curling iron through each section, curling from the ends all the way to the top and hold it there for about 5-7 seconds depending on your hair texture. You’ll be doing this for every single pin up curl! You’re totally free to curl it any direction you want.

Take out the curling iron and use your fingers to roll up that curl to the root. Pin it underneath and not from the top so you don’t get a crease. That goes for every other curl until you get to the very top. Ta-da!

If you’re wondering what to do with the front section, make three nice sections and curl them in your desired direction. They will form that really nice swoopy bang you’re looking for. Use a hairspray and wait for about 30 minutes or until your hair has completely cooled down.

Once your hair is dry, take out all the bobby pins. The last thing you want is to get your brush tangled with a pin you forgot to remove. Then just run your fingers through your hair. By now, you should already start seeing nice wavy patterns. Use your brush to make the waves curl in the direction you want. You’ve got this.

Use a teasing comb to gently tease the root and work your hair in nice waves. The front bangs should get a lot of attention. You can curl it into a nice S-shape, using bobby pins to hold it in place at every curvy edge. Spray this to make it set.

The sides really should just fall out in a full poufy manner—well, you’re basically fiddling with this part mostly. Make sure you get the waves flowing outwards all the way to the ends. Oh, and don’t forget the back too, just use your teasing comb to get them vintage glamour curls at the back too. This is just perfect for a date night and you can check here for other retro glam styles.

Best Curling Iron For Vintage Curls

I know there’s so many curling irons to choose from and you may get overwhelmed and a bit scared to pick the perfect one. I used to go for Conair’s before I discovered the BaBylissPRO Nano Titanium Spring Curling Iron and I’ve never looked elsewhere since then.

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What really makes me admire this product is that it tends to heat up quickly and makes my curls last longer. Gals like me with pretty thick hair would really admire it as well. The color of this product also got my attention surely.

The only set back about this curling iron is that for me to get nice full curls for my long hair, I have to curl my hair section in two portions — first at the top and then at the lower portion. This is due to its short barrel. However, a little bit of learning curve should get you off from a beginner to a pro in no time!

Get Vintage Curls With Heat Styling Tools

You don’t want to mess up your hair with the various heat styling equipments out there. Here are a few tricks on how to use each one to get flawless curls without damaging your hair.

1. Vintage Curls Using Rollers

It can get pretty difficult using a hot roller set, especially if it comes in various sizes. I used to find it difficult knowing whether to pop the medium rollers or the large ones into my hair.

READ: How To Choose The Best Hot Rollers

Vintage Hot Roller Set Tutorial Video: Tips & Tricks for getting a sleek 40s look
  1. Section out your hair starting at the nape, separating the top portion from the section below. You want to start with the lower section first.
  2. Make out two other sections from the lower section and ensure that each one is exactly about the width of your roller.
  3. Next you want to pull your hair upward and outward before you begin rolling it over the roller all the way down. Make sure each one isn’t hanging off of your head. They should remain nice and tight for the best results.
  4. Separate the front and crown sections as you work all the way round. It doesn’t have to be perfect—just get something to work with.
  5. The side rollers are usually best with the small size for me to get them curling outward and downwards and then I use the bigger sizes at the back for more volume.
  6. Spray each curls and let them cool down before you remove them.
  7. After you take out each roller, brush through your hair to get the vintage waves and tease them with a comb in your desired direction.

READ: The Ultimate Guide to Hair Rollers

2. Vintage Curls With Curling Iron

The best way to use this method is to avoid leaving the curling iron on your hair for too long so that you don’t burn it. Take out each hair section and run the curling iron through it, taking care not to leave it on for too long. Usually, the texture of your hair determines the duration to leave it on.

As you take off the curling iron, quickly roll each curl using your fingers before they cool down and pin them. Do these and you’ll get really nice curls with no worries at all. Make sure to get the very tip of your hair nicely rolled into the curling iron as well.

CHECK OUT: The Ultimate Guide to Curling Irons

You’re not always going to be perfect with the curls and as you’ll notice, you may occasionally miss the curls as you remove the curling iron. Do not fret though, all you need to do is take that section from the end, carefully roll it back in and clip it using a bobby pin.

3. Vintage Curls With Wand

Not to intimidate you or anything, I can also show you how to use a curling wand even if you’ve never used one before. Before we get into details, let me quickly point out that your hair texture determines what temperature you set the wand to.

If you’ve got really coarse hair, I would say to go for a temperature of about 400 degrees max. Go for a much lower temperature if your hair is thinner. Damage from wands are usually irreversible and I don’t want you doing stuff that’s going to burn out your hair.

So you can use any hairspray that works fine. Then using a rat tail comb, section out your hair to about an inch wide. Be careful not to make each one larger than your wand barrel so that you don’t get uneven curls.

Comb out the hair section you want to start with and carefully place the wand with its nibs on the scalp surface. Then go ahead and grab the hair closely and begin to wrap it tightly around the iron wand. Hold the end in place without releasing it for about ten seconds. Release it and let that baby wand curl cool down.

If you want to avoid burning your hands, I’d recommend a pair of shower gloves. If you’re looking to get that beachy wave loose wand curl and not the standard big curls, you have to roll the hair tight around the wand.

4. How To Do Vintage Waves With A Hair Straightener Or Flat Iron

I think the first section of this article pretty much covers how to get retro waves using a GHD hair straightener or flat iron. Basically, you can use hair straighteners to curl your hair (these tutorials will show you how). The trick here is finding a flat iron with slightly rounded edges.

After you create nice parting, make sure to place the straightener or flat iron close to the roots and gently rotate and glide the hair in to get a nice curl. Repeat that step on all hair section and then brush your curls into waves as desired.

Video Tutorial: Old Hollywood Curls Using GHD Flat Iron

Read: Our Top Picks For the Best Straightener That Curls Hair

How To Get Vintage Curls Without Heat

I’m going to be showing you the three easiest, cost-effective and healthiest methods of getting vintage curls without using any potentially harmful heat styling tools.

1. Vintage Curls With Pillow Curlers

Start by sectioning your hair from the bottom. Get your hair wet if it isn’t and for this method, you can use a lotion to prevent it from frizzing.

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Next, take each section (no more than an inch wide) and wind them over your pillow curler, like the one above. Take note that the curls would be as tight as you wind them over the pillow curler. Notice how flexible the curler is as you take your hair round it till the ends. Wrap the curler and set it tightly after you’ve gotten a nice curl.

Pretty easy, yeah? Do this for your entire head and leave these overnight. Your vintage waves should come out nicely and you can then apply finishing touches as described earlier. If you ask me, I would recommend this for medium to long hair length gals.

2. Vintage Curls With Clips/Bobby Pins

For this method, get started by doing the same first steps — section your hair, wet it, and apply hair products as mentioned earlier. In order to get the curls, place your finger at the root of each section and wind your hair over it—always over and never under. Well I have to repeat this as I’ve made the mistake before and I bet you don’t want to go there.

Hold the sides and slide your finger out with the curl still intact. Then use the bobby pin/clip to securely attach it to your head. I usually prefer to leave the curl standing up as it gives me more volume at the base.

Repeat the same method up until where you want to have your hairline parted. Here, make the curls facing the opposite direction with the same method. Leave them to dry and take out the curls for a final touch of beauty. This method works best on short hair.

3. Vintage Curls With Natural Braids

You might be wondering how this is even possible. It’s a really natural method I go to when I just don’t want to put in too much stress and still get tight curls.

Basically you want to get your hair prepared as usual but this time, wait until it gets damp. Well, just pat it with a dry towel but don’t get it completely dried.

Next you want to use your fingers to separate your hair into sections depending on the texture of your hair and the nature of the curls. I usually make out about four sections for tighter curls on my thick hair — nothing else works better for me. If you’ve got thin hair or want loose waves, you should try using one section.

Braid each section and tie each end with a hair tie or rubber band. Leave the braids overnight or all day to let the waves set. When you finally loosen them, run them through with your fingers. The natural vintage waves you’re going to get will leave you amazed.

For other options, check out these rollers for heatless overnight curls!

Vintage Hair Tutorials from around the web:

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Image Credit: Deposit Photos

Last Updated: December 1, 2019

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