Saturday, January 14, 2012

Vintage Hair Tutorial: Basic Reverse Hair Roll

An essential part of 1940s hairstyles is the hair roll.  I've seen a few tutorials which mistakingly dub every roll "a victory roll"; however, they are only victory rolls if there is one on each side of the head (hence the 'V'...which stands for victory!).  Rolls that stand alone or are in multiples are just that--hair rolls.

There are two types of hair rolls: the regular roll and the reverse hair roll.  What I'm going to be showing you here is a reverse hair roll, which is rolled upward, away from the face.  (A regular hair roll is usually rolled downward.  I'll get to those another time).  Once you know how to do one of these, the whole world of '40s hairstyles will open up for you!

A few misconceptions about hair rolls:

  • "You need to backcomb the hair a lot."  This is not true.  However, your roll will hold its shape much better if you do this--but only a little backcombing is needed.  Too much will make your roll look ratty.  It will have a stronger structure and will be less prone to drooping or flattening.  It also adds nice volume to the roll.
  • "You need to use TONS of hairspray."  I don't use any!  With proper pinning (and backcombing) your roll should hold just fine.  If using hairspray makes you feel better about it, go ahead and do so.  Don't use too much--you don't want your hair roll to look fake or "crunchy."  D:

    A few things your should know first:

    • Your first hair roll will probably be messy.
    • You will need quite a lot of bobby pins first few times, until you master your pinning abilities.
    • You might feel like giving up.
    • It will not be perfect the first time, or even the first few times.  However, once you do these enough and get enough practice at them, you'll be able to style your hair like this in only a couple of minutes!  Just keep practicing, and you'll have glamorous, enviable hair.  :)

      You can do a hair roll anywhere on your head; in the front, just over your forehead (a pompadour roll, I'll show how to do one of those later, too), side of your head, or you can do them all over your head in smaller sizes, to look like miniature curls!  Here is the basics for a reverse roll.  This was my first-ever photo tutorial so I apologize if I made any mistakes.  :)  Also the lighting is poor and I look tired because I didn't sleep well the night before.  But--let's get started!

      What you will need:

      • Hairbrush
      • Fine-tooth comb
      • Your favorite type of smoothing hair cream or serum (not hairspray or gel)
      • Bobby pins
      Step one:  Brush your hair so it is smooth and free of any tangles.

      Step two:  Part your hair as usual.  Keep in mind where you want your roll to end up.  I'm doing one on the top right side of my head, so I've parted my hair on the side.

      Step three:  Moving from the main part of your hair, make another part sectioning off the hair you are going to roll.  Since I'm doing a roll on the right side, the part on mine passes just before my right ear.

      Step four:  Backcomb/tease the hair (combing down toward the roots) on the side of the section that is going to be rolled in.  Do this from the roots all the way down near the ends, but stop about two inches from the ends.  Any further down could damage your ends.

      Step five:  Stroke your smoothing hair cream over the section of hair.  I was in a bit of a hurry as my camera was dying and so I skipped this step.  That's why my hair looks a bit frizzy.  :/  Generally, my favorite cream to use is Garnier Fructis Soft Curl Cream, but I believe this has been discontinued.

      Step six:  Now for the rolling!  Loop the end of the hair around your thumb.  Carefully slip your thumb part way out--DO NOT let go of this loop!  You'll want to keep your thumb partway in the loop.  Place index finger in the other end of the loop.  Using the thumb and forefinger of both hands, hold the side of the loop in this manner (switching from one hand to the other) and gently roll it upward toward your scalp.  When this loop becomes too loose, gently pull outward to tighten the hair around your thumb.  Since this step is confusing to explain, here is a short video of me rolling my hair.

      Step seven:  Once you have the roll positioned where you want it on your head, begin pinning with one hand while you hold it in place with the other.  Bobby pins should be tucked inward on each side of the roll, snuggly against the scalp.  For my hair, I need about 4-8 pins per roll, depending on the size and how well I rolled it.  Shake your head side to side; if the roll feels loose, add more pins.  Try to keep them tucked nicely in so they can't be seen.
      Step eight:  GENTLY smooth over the roll with a fine-tooth comb to get any frizz and lumps out and to help achieve an even texture.

      And you're done!  If you wish you apply hairspray, go ahead but be careful not to apply too much to keep the hair texture natural.


      1. Love it! Thank you for the step by step tutorial and the super easy demo video.You look great in this hairstyle. Are you wearing one of your lipsticks?

      2. Yes! I am wearing my 'Ava' lip rouge and it looks very dark because of the dim lighting. :/

        Another thing I forgot to mention in step 3 is that it's helpful to tie back the hair you aren't rolling so it won't interfere with the styling. :)