The classic pompadour hairstyle that rocked the 1950s always lives up to its name, borne from a simple comb and hair gel. A pompadour features front hair brushed back high over the forehead, along with side hair combed upward so it all meets in a pile on top. While Americans associate the pompadour with early rock-and-roll icons such as Little Richard, the hairstyle dates back to 1740s France.
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The classic man's pompadour requires a haircut that leaves the top long and the sides and back short. This is not a flattop or a Mohawk. Ask the barber specifically for a pompadour haircut to ensure you have enough hair to create the style. A woman can have long hair and still style the front of her hair as a pompadour, however.
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Grease or Gel
Men who wear a pompadour often use hair grease or pomade. Drugstore hair gel will do the trick and not leave such a "wet" or greasy look, however. Apply enough of the stuff on your hair to make it malleable when you rub your hands through it. Remember John Travolta's look in the musical "Grease" required a lot of hair product, while actor Sean Penn wore a dry pompadour in the film "Dead Man Walking."
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Begin combing the top of your hair straight over your face. Then, comb it straight up --- never back. Always comb everything up to make the pompadour. While combing the pompadour, gently pull forward with the comb to add some lift to the hair. You can part your hair on each side if you choose. Comb the sides up next until they blend in with the top piled high above your forehead, or simply comb the sides back if you have them cut extremely short. The rolled pile of hair on top creates the pompadour. Once you get the hair to your preferred height, rub some more grease in your hands and gently slick it over the pompadour to keep it in place.
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The Blow-Dry Method
A blow-dryer will help those with fine hair create a dramatic pompadour. Begin with clean, towel-dampened hair. Run some hair grease or gel through it, and begin combing up the top and sides into a pompadour. Next, end over and blow-dry your hair, aiming at the gelled roots. This step will add to the height of the pompadour. Once the hair has dried, use more gel to hold the pompadour in place. Finish it off with a quick burst of hairspray. Gently tousle the top just a bit to create a classic 1950s rockabilly pompadour.