Hairstyles are a reflection of culture and societal changes going on at the time. The great hairstyles of the 1960s mirrored a society that was heading toward freedom and individuality. The structured, heavily sprayed hairstyles of the 1950s were replaced with more free-flowing lengths and sharp cuts. Hairstyles such as the bob, the flip, the Afro and the bouffant were some of the more prevalent women's looks of the decade while for men the hair look was long.
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A bob hairstyle is one where the hair is cut short from lengths at ear level or falling at the chin. This style was first seen in the 1920s according to Lynn Chapman at Bella Online, but saw a rise in popularity during the 60s. In the early part of the 1960s, hairdresser Vidal Sassoon put his signature on the classic bob, giving it rounded edges and asymmetrical features. His version of the bob, often referred to as the A-line bob, the Sassoon or the inverted bob, was a mainstay during the 60s.
Another popular hairstyle for women in the 1960s was the flip. Hair was typically worn straight and fell just below the shoulders with a signature flip at the ends. The flip on the ends could be achieved with a large-barrel curling iron or curlers and sprayed for hold. The flip was also worn backcombed at the roots, combining the flip with a variation of a bouffant style. Backcombing, or teasing, is a process where the hair is held vertically and combed downward to the roots. Teasing gives hair volume at the crown.
The Afro is one of the most iconic hairstyles of the 1960s. During this decade many African-American men and women wanted to embrace natural beauty, giving rise to the popularity of the Afro or 'fro hairstyle. Instead of spending time to chemically relax their hair, people who wanted to achieve an Afro would use a hair pick to round the hair into an Afro. The hairstyle had became mainstream by the end of the decade.
The bouffant was popular in the 60s as this type of hairstyle gave the wearer an air of glamour. Jackie Kennedy wore her hair in a bouffant style. The bouffant is characterised by a great deal of height and volume at the crown. Many women, according to "Bouffant Hairstyle History" wore curlers or cans in their hair overnight to set it in preparation for the backcombing and spraying necessary to achieve the style. Women with longer hair could wear a variation of the bouffant with teasing and pinning at the crown allowing the rest of the hair to fall over their shoulders. Another spin on the bouffant was the beehive, which required much more teasing and spraying than the traditional bouffant.
In addition to the Afro there were several other men's hairstyles popular in the 60s. British rock bands such as The Beatles were popular in the mid-1960s and many men wanted to emulate their moptop hairstyles. This midlength style was characterised by combed down fringe cut just at the eyebrows and hair covering the ears. Men also began wearing their hair much longer towards the end of the decade. Shoulder length or longer hair could be worn wavy and free-flowing, tied in a ponytail or braided.
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