Female hairstyles of the 1950s

Written by b.t. alo
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After the seriousness of the war era, the 1950s is characterised by a flamboyant and frivolous look that, for female hairstyles, was all about curls and volume. Hair was typically kept short, and elaborate maintenance was required to maintain the curls and coifs that were the mark of a groomed and cultured lady.

The Poodle

"The Poodle" is a classic 1950s look popularised by Lucille Ball, the star of the iconic TV series “I Love Lucy.” As with all 1950s hairdos, rollers play an integral part. The tighter curls of this look require small rollers, usually left in overnight. Once you remove the rollers, brush the hair from the neck upwards and secure it wiith a comb, so that the curls sit atop the head like poodle fur. For best results, divide the hair into three sections, two at the sides and one at the back, to hold all the hair up on top. Curl the fringe, too--or, if you don't have fringe, position curls from the ends of the hair over the forehead to give the appearance of fringe. The curls in a poodle-do are frizzy, rather than smooth and coiffed.

The Bouffant

Another popular 1950s hairstyle was the bouffant. Jackie Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor and the young Queen Elizabeth II all wore the bouffant. The typical 1950s bouffant gave a rounded look all around the head and was reserved for shorter-haired ladies, but the style also gave rise to the beehive, which is a bouffant raised very high on the top of the head. Use large rollers to create barrel-type curls, then utilise back teasing—a lot of it—to achieve the height of the look.

Spit Curls

Spit curls were tight, elaborate curls placed along the forehead—the name gives a clue as to how the curls were made to stay. The 1950s iconic cartoon character Betty Boop sports spit curls on her short bob, and Audrey Hepburn was another who sported spit curls on more than one occasion, although presumably she used a setting gel.

Betty Bangs

Betty Page was a style icon of the 1950s, and her unique hairstyle soon became mainstream because before long, everybody was sporting it. Betty’s fringe were cut in an arch and curled under so that they sat halfway up the forehead.


Ponytails were the most relaxed that 1950s hairstyle got—and even they were curled. Ponytails often combined a poodle top or Betty Bangs and were secured high on the head, and the ponytail itself was curled—either in a single barrel curl (think Sandy from "Grease") or in tighter poodle curls in the ends of the hair.

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