Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas 1960s Style

Merry Christmas to everyone and the Best wishes for the New Year!

Thanks to every one who has been reading my blog or better yet, commented or emailed/messaged me! Unfortunately November/December was very busy so I really didn't get around to posting much. I hope I will have more time next year.

The December issue of many vintage magazines have special Christmas hairdo instructions, not surprising given in many ways people apparently dressed up more (or better!) in those days than we do now. I'm going to cheat a bit and post a few pages from Hair Secrets from December 1970, so just past the end of the decade but a very nice how to do typical aspects of fancy Christmas styles. Take a look:

Virtually all the holiday styles would have been done with wetsets, and since may households were not lucky enough to have a dryer, sleeping in curlers would have been the most common way to dry. But with longer hair on medium or small rollers, hair wouldn't always dry completely overnight (and as you may know, it must be totally dry for a set to take). Redbook in 1962 provided and answer - wear a turban over your curlers.

The turban above is apparently over the rollers below. You really wouldn't know it!

The article refers to "the frequent sets of the holiday season" and that you could use the turban for shopping trips, picking up guests from the train station (yes, people didn't fly much in those days) or even go to a luncheon with it. One can only imagine there would have bene frequent checking of the turban to make sure it is on properly!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The best salon dryer photo ever!

Don't these two ladies look wonderful? We should all go out and buy a case of Coca-Cola to say thanks for that Ad ... or at least drink a Coke the next time under the dryer.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

How long does it take to set your hair?

Lack of time is often the reason why not to do a classic wetset. But how long does it really take? I timed myself last night - trying to do it quickly: 11 minutes is all it took. Take a look:

Unfortunately not the greatest picture. I had to choose between flash for a clear shot, but washed out colors, or fuzzy and better colors. Took the better colors. Not the neatest set in the world, but I was going to prove speed, not perfection. You can see the double piks in each curler for nice even tension and comfort. And certainly done well enough for sleeping in. 12 hours later curlers still securely set and ready to be removed.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Braun Floating Bonnet Dryer

This dryer was originally from Germany (Braun is a German company). This ad from the 60s (translated) says you can hardly feel the dryer as is floats on a cushion of air, and is so quite you can even make a phone call. Not in my experience, at least with the North American version. The fan isnt that strong, and the top of the dryer dyer which holds the fan sits on your rollers. The fan is also quite loud, being almost right on you're head. Its too bad - it sounds so to have a hood blow up and float nice an securely on your curlers while you go about your business. Maybe those dryers worked better when they were new. Has anyone else any experiences with them? The lady in the ad certainly looks happy with her dryer. Maybe its the first dryer she had and the luxury of a home dryer more than compensated for any shortcomings it had.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Overnight Sets – Part 3 – Experiment to find out whats best for you!

And that applies to both how to make setting overnight most comfortable as well as produce the best results. Try a few different rollers to see which you sleep best in, how to set them, and what produces the best result for your hair. Its almost different for everyone. So you really do need to experiment. As a general rule, smoother rollers produce best results, but are also harder to wind and secure poorly for overnight. Here are some notes on a few types of rollers:

Vintage Wil-hold Plastic Brush Rollers. Brushes are like mini combs, so nice crisp results almost like mag rollers, but much easier to wind and secure. Easy to forget your set during the day if done properly, but the hard plastic can be quite prickly if you rest your head on them, so rest your cheek on a pillow, or if you sleep on your back, put a pillow under your neck.

Vintage Solo-Sleepeasy Plastic Brush rollers. Softer plastic, smooth rounded bristles and produces almost identical results as Wil-hold rollers. Feels a little prickly all over but comfortable when your used to it. I find these are less pressure sensitive than Wil-hold rollers so better for resting your head on a pillow.

Wire brush rollers. Also easy to roll and secure, but can get entangled a bit and resulting styles not as smooth. A little itchy so if that bothers you may not be the rollers to use. Easily available.

Velcros are really not well suited for overnight. They don’t secure well, coming loose and pulling uncomfortably. Like wire brush can get a bit entangled.

Mag rollers (smooth plastic) produce the best styles if you can get them to stay in overnight. Really hard to do. If you have any tips, please send them. A little hard and bumpy, but also can get used to it.

Mesh rollers are half way between Brush and Mag rollers in almost every way. Not a bad compromise.

Sponge rollers are the softest, but can be tight and pull. But the sponge can compress the shape of the roller and hence the result.

I find the vintage Solo Sleepeasy Plastic Brush rollers the best, although almost a tie with Wil-hold Plastic Brush Rollers. Both produce excellent results and easy to use, and the ability to secure them well so they don't loosen and yank outweighs the fact that they are a little prickly. And you really get used to them, particularity the Sleepeasy rollers and you do feel nicely set when done properly. Unfortunately these rollers are hard to find except in second had stores or eBay.

Besides finding the right roller, do everything you can to make the experience pleasant or even enjoyable or you may find regular sets too much of nuisance to keep doing. If you do find your set uncomfortable before bed, take out your rollers or loosen them a bit rather than enduring a miserable night. As I mentioned, I don’t like sleeping in very wet rollers, so I dry before bed which is a real treat because the dryer so relaxing. Even better, there is nothing like getting out of bed and warming up for a few minutes under a dryer on a cold morning. Or read or do something you enjoy, or write emails, or blog, so you don’t feel your wasting time after setting.

(Photo – from an ad depicting the 60s, not sure of the original source, but picture in various places on the net. Imagine how hard it must be to sleep in huge rollers or cans like that, or even to keep them in all night!)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Overnight Sets – Part 2 - Practice

Its probably worth doing an evening set almost every day for a week before trying an overnight set. After a week you should have the roller tightness just right to be as secure as possible but not uncomfortable. You also get more used to be in curlers which tends to make wearing curlers feel more comfortable. Along those lines, if possible, try spending a day in curlers. If you still feel comfortable after being in curlers for hours, you are ready to try setting overnight.

For you first attempt at sleeping in curlers, do dry your set before going to bed. That way, if your set isn’t perfect and comfortable after its dry, you can always decide tonight isn’t the right night after all. If you set does seem perfect, cover it in a nice smooth scarf to protect it (smooth is important - you don’t want the scarf to get entangled in the curlers). Make sure you have fluffy soft pillow. If you sleep on you back, scrunch the pillow so it supports you neck reducing pressure on your head. If you sleep on your side, support you cheek with the pillow. You may find it hard to sleep in curlers at first, so try it the first few times on a weekend. If you have never done it before, it might take a week to get used to. But don’t give up after the first day or two, anything worthwhile does take some effort. The good thing is you really do get used to it, and sleeping in curlers becomes second nature.

Its also a worthwhile to experiment what works for you. I really hate sleeping in wet hair, but sleep well in curlers if it is dry, so I always dry before bed. The nice thing is the that the dyer always makes one sleepy and find going to bed in still warm curlers so cozy that it can really be quite enjoyable. Also try drying if you have trouble falling asleep set. In spite of the hair being dry, you will still have the advantage of better set due to the extra time in curlers as well as the convenience of waking up ready to take you curlers out.

(Photo taken from a Kindness hot roller ad from the 60s. She looks so content in her curlers makes one wonder f she really would go out an buy some hot rollers.)

Look for part 3 in a day or so!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Overnight Sets – Part 1 – Getting Started

Wearing curlers overnight was common in the sixties, partly because many women didn’t have access to dryers, but also because sets tend to hold better if the curlers are left in longer. Sleeping in curlers can be uncomfortable – just search twitter to see a new list of complaints. Its really unfortunate because it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable if you know a few tricks and practice. Vintage rollers also help because some of them were really made for sleeping in.

There are really three important things that go into sleeping well in curlers: you need to pick the right type of curlers, they must be set properly, and you need to get used to wearing curlers before attempting to sleep while wearing them.

Picking the right curlers depends on your hair, which you find easiest to use, and which you find most comfortable. The traditional curlers for sleeping in are brush rollers which I like best because they tend to stay securely set all night. I hate it when curlers loosen and even fall out. But if you have sensitive scalp, they can be uncomfortable. The next best are mesh rollers which are simply brush rollers without the brush and are almost as good. Magnetic rollers (aka smooth plastic rollers) are also common, but are much trickier to wind. Velcro roller are the modern replacements for all of these. I'm not a fan of these: they don’t secure well tend to work themselves out of the hair overnight.

Besides winding the rollers neatly, the most important thing when doing an overnight set is getting the tension right. If you read about sets in the 60s, curlers were often wound incredibly tight leading to breakage and well as being uncomfortable. Velcro rollers today are often wound without any tension at all, also not good. The best tension is somewhere in between. Exactly how tight is good for you is something that you will have to experiment with, and is best gauged if you are setting you own hair. I find the way to do it is to wind the rollers so that, once they are secured with piks, you can feel them, but just barely. Its actually easier with brush rollers because at this tension level you can just feel them, and you get to know how a well done set feels with practice. With mesh and mag rollers you have to sense the tension alone which is a bit harder. If you like the ease of winding of brush rollers, but cant stand the prickly feeling all night, there is a trick you can use: fold up a tissue into a rectangle about the size of roller, and wind the roller down on this. You can do a nice secure set with brush rollers this way and not feel the prickels.

One thing hair tends to do as it dries is shrink a little, so you curlers tend to tighten a little as they dry. If they are too tight in the first place, curlers can become really uncomfortable. There is nothing worse that waking up at 3am with curlers that are too tight, and then spending what seems like an eternity deciding whether to take out your curlers, or try and go back to sleep. The good news it that is doesn’t have be that way, but it does take some practice. The best way to do this is to do a number of daytime sets, or if that is impractical, evening (but not overnight sets. So set you hair, then dry it which should take no more than an hour unless you hair is longer. Hood dryers are easy to come by on eBay or places like Goodwill, sometimes being available for then that $5, so there is no reason not to have one. Now here the trick: stay set for at least an hour after drying, and if at any point you curlers become uncomfortable take them out and make your next set a little less tight. The reason it is important to leave the curlers in for a while is that while they tighten under the dryer, the warmth is so soothing your set may feel quite comfortable until it cools down, which is what it would be like overnight.

(Photo taken from the 1961 movie "The Parent Trap")

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A vintage trick: how best to secure mesh or brush rollers

I was going to call this “The best way to secure vintage rollers” but it really applies to most mesh or brush rollers and particularity plastic ones. The typical way of securing these types of curlers is to place as is as follows (thanks to Hairdo May 1961).

Using a comb, create a rectangular section of hair about the size of the curler you want to use:

Wind the section of hair neatly around the roller:

Place a pik (aka pick aka pin) through the roller in the direction shown in the picture. This is particularly important. If you place the pick trough the roller the opposite way relative to the direction is it wound, the pik will not hold it in place. There are actually a few tutorials on on the web that seem to get it wrong with the rollers left on the verge of falling out, usually by first time users of these type of rollers.

Now the trick, and it comes from a vintage package of Solo Sleepeasy brush rollers. Instead of one pik through the center of the roller, use two, one on each end of the roller as shown in the diagram beside“fasten with roller pins” below (you may need to click on the image to enlarge it).

Without any greater tension being required, by securing the roller on each end with a pik will hold it in place much better than with one pick in the middle( which can even allow the roller to wobble if not wound perfectly). Because even the more rigid rollers are still somewhat flexible, you can also use the two piks to adjust the tension on each side of the roller so that is it even across the roller, not only resulting in a better set but also making wearing rollers much more comfortable. It really makes a big difference, and doesn’t take much more effort than just using a single pin.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The most famous hairdo model in the world

... was Sara Thom, at least in the 60s. In 1963 she made the front cover of Hairdo's September issue wearing curlers. Looks like the green bows were tied to the clips holding her rollers in place.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Back to School" Style from 1969

From American Hairdresser in August, 1969, here is a great back to school style.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Last items from "Glamour Hair Secrets"

Two more items from "Glamour Hair Secrets" 1969 (to enlarge, click on each image, then right click on "view image", then click again).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Jackie Kennedy's Hairdo How To

From 1969 "Glamour Hair Secrets", here is how to do the iconic Jackie Kennedy hairstyle (to enlarge, click on each image, then right click on "view image", then click again).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

If this blog had a sponsor ....

... it might have been Palmolive. Remember the commercials with Madge the manicurist and the lady who's hands she soaked in Palmolive diswashing liquid? The ads were often in a salon, and sometimes the unnamed lady was in curlers. Her set below in magnetic rollers is so perfect.

Sometime she was also under the dryer, below in such a typical late 1960s scene:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A quick how-to

A while ago I wrote a couple of articles for Karen @ Bobbins and Bombshells (a really great blogger).

So rather than repeat things, I am going to be a bit lazy and point you to two sections on her blog for a concise "how to get started".

Here are the links:

A Basic Wet-set for Vintage Hairdos


Basic Setting Patterns for Vintage Hairdos


Magnetic Rollers

Magnetic rollers really are smooth plastic rollers and are called magnetic because wet hair tends to cling to the plastic surface. The are rather tricky to wind, and are secured with clips. Because they are smooth, the hair can easily slip off which makes them easy to remove creating some of the smoothest, nicest sets. But this also causes them to loosen while you are wearing them which can make them impractical for sleeping in. They also take longer to dry but this small price to pay for the great results sets. Its probably best to leave these rollers until you have so much practice winding the other rollers that you can almost do them in your sleep.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Plastic Brush Rollers

I have always preferred brush rollers over other types, and among brush rollers, some of the vintage plastic ones to be the best. Its really too bad that they don't seem to make the rollers below any more. The good thing is they often appear on eBay and if you see them up for bids, try and grab them.

Wil-hold Plastic Brush Rollers were the classic plastic brush rollers used in salons and at home in the 60s. The rollers are made from moderately hard plastic and the bristles are actually like little combs, making them particularly easy to wind. The plastic only has a little flexibility, so if you wind them too tight they really can become uncomfortable after drying. Even well wound, they can still be slightly prickly to wear, but after using these rollers a number of times you quickly get used to them and they are actually quite comfortable. The package promises they are “easy to sleep in” and although it takes a week or so to get used to wearing them overnight, they are well suited for that purpose: the fact that they secure so well means they can't loosen and yank your hair uncomfortable you toss and turn. Its also worth mentioning they are great under the dryer as well. The air flows through them making drying easy which is probably why they appear to have been very popular at salons.

Solo Sleepeasy Curlers are a slightly different approach to plastic brush rollers. What makes them unique is that that they are made out of a softer plastic (but not so soft that they deform) and also have bristles with rounded ends. This makes them gentle on the hair (no sharp bristles to scratch the hair shafts) and also more comfortable . The softer plastic also makes them a little more forgiving if you wind them too tightly which makes sense since the vintage ads seem to imply that these rollers were aimed more at the home use market. Other than that all the the comments about Wil-hold rollers apply to these too.

Tip-Top Snap-On Rollers or Tip-Top Clip-On Nylon Brush Curlers are the last variant on the plastic brush roller theme. The main difference from the others is these curlers are hour-glass shaped, possibly to make it easier to wind hair. They also have clip on clamps to hold the roller in place, but in reality you still need to use pins or piks to secure them for anything more that a few minutes in curlers. Interestingly, they appear to have been available with and without the clamps, and with and without an inner nylon brush, probably to accommodate all tastes in rollers. Like the the Solo Sleepeasy Curlers, the ads seem to indicate they were made primarily for the home market.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wire Brush Rollers

Wire brush rollers are perhaps the most classic at-home curlers and easiest to use. There are actually two types: the older ones where the mesh is woven out of wire and the newer ones where it is fabric or plastic. If buying vintage, watch out for the mesh : it can be broken or frayed, and if fabric, disintegrated. The brushes also wear and sometimes fall apart. If you do see some with the wire mesh, grab them. They are the best: more solid that the fabric ones, easier to set, and generally better made as many vintage things are.

These curlers are really easy to use. They are easily secured in place with plastic piks or metal pins, and because of the brush stay neatly wound which is important for air drying, particularity overnight. Another good thing is that at least one of modern versions of the curlers (Conair) are well made and easily available.

On the down side, the brushes are a little itchy which can be a problem if you have a sensitive scalp. Placing a folded piece of tissue under each roller can help, but its a nuisance. Also, depending on your hair and particularity if it is longer and has a tendency to frizz you can get entangled with with these curlers, ruining the effects of your set as you remove them. So a piece of advice is try them and see if they work for you. If not try something else. And never experiment on a day when you hair has to look good in case something doesn’t turn out as expected. Advice you will hear me repeat again and again!

Coming next: vintage plastic brush rollers, the best ever!

Vintage Curlers

To do a vintage wetset, you obviously need curlers aka rollers. Most types of curlers that were used in the 60s and 70s are still available in one form or another today, but like many things, are generally not as well made as the originals. The modern ones are also really meant for quick and easy use, certainly not for spending hours in as on typically does with a classic wetset. So my preference is vintage curlers if you can find them (and they all seem to periodically appear on eBay, occasionally in their original packaging). So for the next few posts I'll write about the the various different types of vintage (and modern) rollers, the pros an cons of each, and what to look for when buying them.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

So what is a vintage wetset?

Wet hair is wound and secured in curlers (and the vintage types work best), dried either naturally or with a dryer, and then brushed and/or combed into place. A style done this way can last a much longer that with hot rollers or irons, and can be less damaging. This picture is from a vintage late 1960s or early 70s package of hair rollers.

These rollers are Wil-hold plastic brush rollers, probably some of the most popular curlers at the time for salon use but also for at home (and this package was intended for home users). They occasionally appear on eBay and in my opinion they are some of the best rollers ever made. (More about Wil-hold rollers later).

The most famous set hairdo ...

... was probably Farrah Fawcett's iconic hairdo from Charlie's Angels.

Her wonderful flowing waves look so natural that most people today wouldn’t even know it was done with a curlers, let alone that Farrah and millions of women who copied this style did a daily (or more commonly nightly) wetset. Farrah's classic hairdo and how beautiful styles like that are done is one of the inspirations for this blog.