Hairstyles in the 1940's

Written by michelle renee
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Hairstyles in the 1940's
Many hairstyles from the 1940s are popular today. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Every era leaves behind a bit of fashion history, and hairstyles are no exception. It's fairly common for hairstyle trends of past decades to make their way back into style. Styles of the 1970s made a brief comeback in the late 1990s. Fashion magazines in the first years of the new millennium featured many styles of the 1980s. Today, hairstyles of the 1940s are back in fashion and are worn by actresses and rockabilly music enthusiasts.

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The pompadour hairstyle, worn by both men and women of the 1940s, featured a full-bodied "hump" extending straight up above the forehead. The men's pompadour was trimmed short -- above the neck and around the ears -- along the back and sides. The top layers were left longer for teasing and were lightly combed over away from the face. Women used the same technique on all lengths of hair to create wide varieties of pompadour styles including updos.

Pin Curls

Many women's hairstyles of the 1940s featured tresses of tightly wound curls. To create such styles, women took thin narrow strands of damp hair, wrapped them tightly around their fingers, and secured them to the head with a hair clip. When the hair dried, the pins were removed to reveal curly ringlets.

Finger Waves

Finger wave styles were worn by both men and women of the 1940s, although men's styles were typically shorter. Finger waves were wide 'S'-shaped waves that formed a consistent pattern around the entire head or selected areas. People achieved these styles by working a pomade or hair tonic through the hair, combing large groups of strands in one direction, and then firmly placing fingers against the strands and combing in the opposite direction.

Peek-a-Boo Hairdos

Longer lengths were popular among ladies of the 1940s, and "peek-a-boo" hairstyles were born. Peek-a-boo styles were introduced by Hollywood starlets and pin-up girls like Veronica Lake and Rita Hayworth. Most peek-a-boo hairdos featured long and wavy -- often finger-waved -- hair that extended to the shoulders or beyond. Hair was parted on the side, with the narrower side swept away from the face and the wider section pulled forward to partially conceal one eye.


A number of women's hairdos in the 1940s were popular components of elegant updos. The pompadour in particular was easily incorporated into updos since the styling of the pompadour was limited to the front section of hair. Pin curls were commonly used to add texture and volume in many updo styles, and finger waves were made to add sleek sculpted designs close to the scalp while back lengths of hair were tied back. Popular 1940s updos included ponytails, French twists and buns.

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