1950s Retro Hairdo Tutorial

9 Materials
2 Hours

Hi everyone. In this vintage hairstyle tutorial, I’m going to show you how to do a 1950s retro hairdo. Let’s get started.

Tools and materials:

  • Hair rollers
  • Setting spray
  • Brush
  • Smoothing serum
  • Comb
  • Hairspray
  • Teasing brush
  • Pomade
  • Clips/pins
Setting hair

1. Set overnight

The setting pattern is an overnight wet set using two different sizes of foam rollers, one 1 ½ inches and another 1 inch from end to end.

The rollers on the top should go back and everything else should go under. 

Setting hair

Use the big rollers in the front and the remaining little ones in the back.

I use a hairnet when I sleep otherwise they will all fall out.

Breaking the curls apart

2. Break the curls apart

Remove the rollers and begin breaking the curls apart by raking your fingers through them.

Brushing curls out

3. Brush out the curls

Use a brush that has stiff bristles and brush through the curls.

Most classic hairstyles have that halo of curls, so brush all of your curls to the bottom of the hair.

Brush the ends of the hair against your hand to help minimize any frizz.

Applying smoothing serum

4. Apply smoothing serum

Rub smoothing serum between your palms and place it all over your hair, starting at the ends of the hair.

This is going to help smooth the hair down and provide some shine. It contains a lot of really enriching oils and provides moisture to the ends of the hair.

Parting the hair

5. Part the hair

Use a rat tail comb to part the hair just past the corner of the forehead.


6. Backcomb the side of the hair

Since I want the hair to stay, I’m grabbing thin sections of hair on the smaller side and backcombing and teasing right at the base to give it some lift.

Adding hairspray

7. Hairspray

Give each layer a spritz of hairspray after you’ve teased it.


8. Backcomb the back of the hair

Continue backcombing at the base of the hair in the back.

Do this about halfway down the head, so you’re not teasing all of the hair. Give that a spritz as well.


9. Backcomb the remainder of the hair

For the crown area, you’re going to be a bit more strategic and take thinner sections of hair.

Still, backcomb at the base, but go up the strand of hair a lot. 

Teased hair

You want to see if you can get it to stand on its own. Again, spritz with hairspray after each layer. 

Teased hair

Do this technique from corner to corner.

For the remaining side of the hair, do the same thing you did on the opposite side.

As crazy as it is, the teasing and the backcombing are going to be what help mold the hair. 

Smoothing hair

10. Smooth the outside of the hair 

Use a teasing brush that is packed with a lot of soft and flexible bristles so it doesn’t get stuck in the hair or comb through the backcombing.

You just want to smooth the outside of the hair.

Molding hair at the crown

11. Mold the hair at the crown

As you brush the hair at the crown, push it back up so you’re gaining more height and not combing it completely flat. 

Brushing hair

Hold on to that height and brush the hair so you’re not pulling it out.

Brushing hair

12. Brush and smooth out the ends

If your ends are looking frizzy, grab hold of the ends and use a stronger bristled brush to smooth them out.

Grabbing a bunch of hair and brushing it up against the hand can give you more uniform curls after you break it apart.

Applying pomade

13. Apply pomade

Smooth pomade into the palms of your hands and work it into your hair around the hairline and then work it into the hair that’s nicely brushed.

It’ll weigh down the errant hairs and make it look a little smoother.

Adding hairspray

14. Spray with hairspray

Spray with hairspray again, and while it’s still wet, run your hands over your hair.

Make sure that you’re spraying underneath the hair as well.

Styling the hair

15. Style the hair 

Work the hair into the position you want it to be.

You can use clips or bobby pins to lock the hair in place as you work through other parts of the hair. Give it a spray of hairspray.

Breaking the curls up

16. Break the curls up

Apply a bit of pomade on your hands and break up the curls to fluff them out and give them more volume.

Indenting hair

17. Further indent the hair with your hand

Use your hand in a karate chop position to work into the wave and make it more prominent.

1950s retro hairdo

1950s retro hairdo

Here’s the finished retro hairstyle! Let me know what you think of this vintage hairstyle down below.

For more hair content, check out my post on How to Preserve Curls Overnight.

Suggested materials:
  • Hair rollers
  • Setting spray
  • Brush
See all materials

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