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1920's Womens Hairstyles

Updated on August 23, 2017

1920's Women's Hairstyles

The early 1920's experienced major progress in the transition of women's hairstyles from the traditional long-hair styles of the Victorian era in the nineteenth century - to new short-hair styles like "the bob", a process that first began during the great war (WW1). The original straight, plain, and relatively simple short bobbed hair styles of the early 1920's were transformed into much more interesting and feminine bobs (with stylish curls and waves) in the middle to late twenties. The popularity of these later bobbed hairstyles continued on well into the 1930s. Some of the more popular and attractive shorter womens hair styles from the 1920's and 1930s are currently experiencing a revival as modern hair stylists look back in time for fresh ideas and inspiration from the innovative and beautiful short hairstyles of this trend setting era.

Hairstyles like the Bob, finger wave, Marcel wave, and shingle shown in the photos above were the most popular hairstyles of the 1920's with numerous variations of each. Other hairstyles like the Eton Crop were only temporary phenomenons. Barbers and hairdressers were in competition with each other for the cream of this booming hairdressing business, as women of all ages sacrificed their long tresses on the altar of fashion.As early adopters of the new shorter hair styles, 1920's movie stars and other celebrities played a big part in popularizing the new hair fashions. Women observed their favorite star's appearances in movies and stage shows, then the new hairstyles they sported were eagerly copied by their adoring fans. Although extremely expensive initially, permanent hair-waving or perming also attracted a lot of interest from women seeking permanence for their curls and waves despite the high cost involved.

In the 1920's short hair for women was "in" and rapidly took over from the previously fashionable long hair styles. Although considered very radical by many in the early 1920's, bobbed hair quickly became the desired standard for young girls and young women in their twenties, but was also very popular with middle-aged women in their thirties and forties. The original plain bobs eventually gave way to much more attractive shingled bobs or incorporated waves and curls using sophisticated cuts to add style and interest. These later fashionable bobs continued in popularity well into the early 1930s defying critics who had predicted the bob would be a short-lived fad that would only survive a year or two at most. In actual fact, the mass migration to bobbed hairstyles turned out to be part of a major revolution in womens hairstyling.

1920's Ladies Hairstyles & Dressmaking Books on eBay - Digital Reproductions of Popular 1920's Fashion Books


Reproductions of popular 1920's dressmaking and hairstyling books that teach how to create 1920s hairstyles and flapper era dresses.

The hard to find hairdressing books were written by award winning expert hairdressers of the period. The books are supplied as digital files that are available for immediate download using the "Buy it Now" option on eBay. They can be read using the free PDF reader from Adobe that you probably already have on your computer.

NOTE: eBay have changed the rules on selling eBooks and so most of the books are temporarily unavailable. Here is another source for the 1920's hairstyle and dressmaking books Only the ebook listed below is currently available via eBay.

1920's Finger Wave Hairstyle

Finger Waves are similar to the Marcel Wave but less permanent

1920's Finger Wave Hairstyles

Finger Waving is the art of shaping or moulding hair while wet into "s"-shaped curved undulations with the fingers and comb. These waves when dried without being disturbed will fall into beautiful deep waves. Finger waving differs from marcel waving in that there are no heated irons used on the hair. It is not only naturally curly or permanently waved hair that can be finger waved, as finger waving is equally successful on straight hair also.

In preparing the hair for finger waving, the first requisite is of course, that the hair be clean. Finger waving works extremely well after a shampoo inasmuch as the hair must be wet to insert the wave. Some hairdressers prefer to dry the hair after it has been washed before wetting it again for the finger wave (on the same principle that clothes are allowed to dry thoroughly before they are dampened for ironing). Most patrons prefer, however, to have a finger wave immediately after the shampoo, and in most beauty shops the time element is so valuable that it is a far more practicable procedure.

After being washed, the hair must be thoroughly dampened with water or curling fluid and combed completely free of all snarls whatsoever. If the hair is naturally wavy or if the patron has been given a perfect permanent wave, the finger wave can be inserted when the hair has been wet with water only.

More information on Finger Waving here

Finger Waving Long Hair

Finger Waves incorporating Curls and Waves to suit Longer Hair

Finger Wave technique for Women with longer hair

A common technique used with longer hair that was being finger waved, was to curl the ends of the excess hair along the neck-line. In this example there is one row of curls being set, but two and three rows were also commonly used. Curls were often used in combination with waves, especially in the late 1920's and into the 1930s. Curls are a particularly good fit style-wise with finger waves as they complement each other without clashing.

"The Bob" Hairstyle

A Short Hairstyle Mode made popular during the 1920's and 1930s

The Bob Hairstyle

The so-called "bob" mode is, like the shingle, of ancient origin. Egyptian mummies-with their bobbed hair dating back many thousands of years-supply us with positive evidence as to the antiquity of this form of hairstyle.

During the early years of the 1920's decade, bobbed hair - which in 1918 had been regarded by the proprietor of the Palm Garden in New York as a sign of radicalism - became increasingly popular among young girls, mainly for reasons of convenience.

In May 1922, the magazine "American Hairdresser" predicted that the bob, which persisted in being popular, "will probably last through the summer, anyway." The bob not only did this, it so increased in popularity that by 1924 the same magazine felt obliged to feature bobbed styles and give its subscribers detailed instructions in the new art, and was reporting the progress of an ongoing battle between professional hairdressers and barbers for the cream of this booming business.

The style of the modern "bob," introduced during those hectic war years of 1914-1918, was at first similar to that used in ancient Egypt. It was a medium short straight-cut the whole way round the head, the ends being clubbed almost level. The total length was usually determined by the position of the ears; that is to say, the hair was cut off all round the head on a level with the bottom tips of the client's ears.

There have been many variations of the bob, ranging from the "high up" cut (a sort of mushroom mode in which the hair was cut to a level of half-way up the ears, and made to stand out all round the head like a mushroom, the rest of the scalp being closely clipped or shaved), to the more recent 10 inch bob; the latter mode being so designated because the hair length, when cut, measured approximately 10 inches from the crown to the extreme tips.

The technique of executing a bob is, however, fundamentally the same whatever the fashionable length may be.

Bobbing does not consist of merely combing the hair straight down all over the head, and then cutting it off in chunks with a sharp pair of scissors. Neither does it consist in a "basin cut," that is to say it is not produced by placing a basin upon the head and cutting the hair round the rim of the basin; such a method, it is interesting to note in passing, was adopted by the early Puritans, as a protest against the "love-locks" of the Royalists-hence the term "Round Heads."

Success in securing nicely shaped and well-balanced bobs consists, first, in properly dividing the hair before attempting to cut it; secondly, in taper-cutting as much as possible; and, thirdly, in using a well-sharpened pair of thin-bladed scissors ; or, better still, always employing two pairs of scissors, one pair being used for tapering, and another pair (preferably a pair with thin, but not too flexible, blades) for the final club cutting.

More information on the Bob Hairstyle can be found on the website.

1920's Shingled Hair Style

The Shingle was one of the more popular 1920's short hair modes

The Shingle Hairstyle

The shingle is undoubtedly the most popular of all modern short hair modes. Its popularity is due mainly to its comfort and adaptability as a coiffure.

The shingle can be worn relatively long or short, full or sleek, its variation depending upon the nature and texture of the hair and the physiognomy of the client. The shingle mode lends itself to artistry better than any other form of short hair. The hairdresser who is truly an artist will find in the shingle plenty of scope to indulge in artistic conception. The adaptability of the shingle means that it can be so fashioned that deficiencies of nature, such as, for example, badly shaped skulls, or thin or scraggy necks, can be atoned for, and the head made generally to appear nicely shaped. The potentialities of the shingle will become manifest to the student when presently its technique is fully explained. As a short hair fashion, the shingle will last for very many years, with variations, of course, ln style, but always within the orbit of the shingle mode itself.

The modern shingle, is particularly distinctive in its conception. The modern style, introduced in France by a Parisian hairdresser, was really born out of the years of the Great War. A touch of genius in its conception marks it off from all other short hair modes, for it must be pointed out that shingling the hair is almost as old as the art of hairdressing itself. But whilst short hair modes for women have had many recurrences during history, all have passed more or less quickly away because of a certain ugliness, or, shall we say, lack of beauty, as a coiffure. The modern shingle, however, must be considered as an artistic and beautiful conception, and one, therefore, destined to last.

Definition of Shingle - May we here explain that the word shingle is taken from the Latin word scindula, or, earlier, scandula; a shingle is a rectangular slip of wood used to tile roofs, spires, etc. Thus, to shingle is to roof with tiles, so placed that all the ends are exposed, the general ensemble being particularly symmetrical, but not too formal. It may be said that a shingled roof is a series of tapers, each tile being set evenly so as to give the appearance of a soft slope.

More information on the Shingle can be found on the website.

Marcel Wave Hairstyle

The First Successful Attempt at Permanent Waving

The Marcel Wave Hairstyle

Prior to 1872-1873, artificial waving and curling depended mainly upon the human fingers, curling sticks, and crude heating irons, the latter producing a form of irregular undulations known as crimps. Up to this period, so far as waving, as distinct from curling, was concerned, the results were crude and unnatural. It fell to a young hairdresser, M. Marcel, to discover a system capable of producing naturally disposed waves by means of heated irons.

Almost accidentally, it must be said, the secret was discovered. The waving irons then in vogue consisted of two prongs, one solid and the other grooved, the former prong fitting into the groove of the latter. It was by reversing the application of his irons, that is to say, placing the groove underneath, contrary to custom, that he secured almost exactly the desired result. A definite wave, with a soft ridge, was produced, instead of, as hitherto, a mere crimp or corrugation. Having produced a wave, Marcel set about giving it the natural "S" contour; this he effected by a simple direction of the hair between each undulation, by means of comb and fingers, backwards and forwards.

Marcel worked hard until 1887 with his clientele becoming greater as his waving became known, until in 1888 he turned the comer of the struggle, and came in sight of a fortune. Marcel waving became a vogue; the newspapers boosted his system, so that in the following ten years Marcel amassed a considerable fortune, and was able to retire in 1897. Apart from his own assistants, very few hairdressers were aware of his secret until just before his retirement, when he made the details of his Marcel Wave system public to the hairdressing trade.

More information on the Marcel wave can be found on the website.

Marcel Wave Hairstyle Wigs on eBay - An easy and permanent way to achieve a Marcel Wave Hairstyle

Marcel Wave Wigs

Great for a temporary marcel wave hairstyle or to see how you look before proceeding with the real thing! Or for stage shows, reenactments, 1920's fancy dress etc

1920's Hairdressing Books from Amazon - History of Hairstyles - Great for inspiration and new hairdressing ideas

If you are looking for further information on 1920's hairstyles then here is a selection of suitable books from Amazon that cover vintage hairstyles of the twenties Era

Learn about 1920's Ladies Fashion

If you like what you have read on this page about 1920's hairstyles then you will also enjoy our page on 1920's ladies fashions.

There is a link to the twenties fashion page in the "Featured Lenses" module. Check it out! There are lots of colored illustrations which really bring the 20's to life.

Nestle Permanent Wave

1930 Hairstyle Advertisement for Permanent Waving


The Secret of her Charm

Advertisement in May 1930 Ladies Home Journal

ADMIRING EYES center on her-fluent tongues turn pretty phrases in praise of her subtle charm-and a thousand women are envious!

Yet how simple is the secret of this loveliness! Every woman could have it-if every woman only insisted on the genuine Nestle Permanent Wave!

Perfection in permanent waving-achieved by its originators! Individual tests of each head of hair-a treatment specially adapted to you.

And-comfort! In perfect comfort, deft fingers-trained in the system that smart women, scientists, beauty experts everywhere recognize as the finest-shape your hair into glorious, natural permanent curls!

Insist on the genuine Nestle-LeMur Permanent Wave Supplies. With a Nestle Permanent you capture for your very own the subtle charm you've always envied. Available on Nestle Circuline, Nestle Croquignole or Model "A" Triplex machine.


New York

The Turn-over Wave 1920's Hairstyle

A short hair styling technique from the 1920's

The Turn-over Wave Hairstyle

The turn-over wave now occupies a special place in the various modes and coiffures of modern hairdressing. It is possible of execution in front of, and over, the forehead, at the sides, over or around the ears, at the back of the head, and in the neck. It gives an added smartness to particular styles of coiffures, and may also be used as a fixative expedient.

The turn-over wave may be characterized as a normal wave, widely drawn out and turned over. This is true whether the original undulation be a water-wave or a Marcel wave; the "apple turn-over" touch can be given at will, provided the correct technique is followed.

The illustration shows a coiffure with a right-hand parting, the turn-over wave being disposed over the temple, sweeping back, and leaving the ear free. The left-hand side of this coiffure is turned over slightly, however, to accord with the general mode.

Long Hair in the early 1920's

Advice on how to create a personal hair style

Long-Hair Styling Tips from the early 1920's

Study your face and dress your hair to conceal your worst features and to emphasize your best ones.

If your face is round, dress your hair low on the neck or in a high French roll, fluffed in pompadour effect on top and brought gracefully down over the tops of the ears. Rarely should you part your hair in the middle.

If you have a large, high forehead, bring your hair gracefully over it, so that your high forehead will not have undue prominence.

The hat and the neckline of the costume have much to do with the dressing of the hair, too. If your neck is thick and short, dress your hair high on your head. If the prettiest spot you possess is the back of your neck, do not conceal it by bringing your hair down or your collar up. Hair dressed low on the neck is more youthful and frequently more becoming, especially to a young, matronly type of woman who is not too fleshy.

If your nose is sharp, do not tell people so by wearing a Psyche knot at the back of your head.

If your face is long and slim, fluff your hair at the sides and make believe that it is not.

If you have pretty ears, do not conceal them by wearing the hair down over the ears. Covering the ears narrows the face; and, besides, have you ever noticed that frequently those who do this have difficulty with the hearing? Why? Because the air passages are interfered with, and poor hearing results. Air is necessary for the ears, almost as much so as it is necessary for the nose and the mouth. And even if this practice were not injurious, why cover up the ear?

The ear of a woman is usually clear pink, not ill-shaped, and there is a note of individuality about it, the attractiveness of which one should emphasize, not conceal.

Remember your ears, then, and remember that the hair should never be severely drawn back, but gracefully brought down, not far enough, however, to cover the ear opening.

Study the contour of your face. Study pictures of beautiful women. Magazines, especially covers and beauty advertisements in them, contain many pictures of beautiful women. Study these for new ideas of dressing your hair, and when you find a way that you think is just right for you, practice doing your hair like it until you have perfected the style.

1920's Fingerwave Hairstyle Wigs on eBay - The easy way to achieve a 1920's Fingerwave Hairstyle

If you only need a 1920's fingerwave hairstyle temporarily for a play, reenactment, or party, then a wig is simply the way to go. You can find suitable wigs on eBay. Here's a few fingerwave styled wigs to get you started.

How to Create 3, 4 and 5 Stem Plaits

1920's Long Hair Plaiting Techniques


Plaits may be made in diverse widths and varied according to the number of stems, or strands, used. In the following directions the student is given the movements for plaits having from 3, 4 and 5 stems.

The technique which follows represents the plaiting of postiche (hairpieces/wigs). The same principle of manipulation applies also to living hair.

For purposes of practice it is important that hair of considerable length should be used, that is to say, not less than 22 in. or 24 in. in length. The lengths will not only give the student plenty of scope for his manipulations, but will, ipso facto, provide instruction in handling hair, always an important point.

The number of stems required in the plait will, of course, determine the number of stems for manipulation. If switches are used, the best plan is to insert a series of pegs along the edge of the workbench, or, for small plaits, upon the practice block. The loops of the switches may then be hung on to these pegs as desired.

The hair should be well brushed and combed before commencing to plait. In order to facilitate manipulation, and to keep the hair tidy and free from entanglement, the student is advised to place a paper tube around each stem. Brown paper tubes are simply made to fit according to the circumference of the hair stem or strand. These tubes are slipped over the hair from the loop end and secured by means of fine string.

The tubes, which should be about 2 in. in length, are moved down as the work proceeds, and really act as holders for the hair. The plaiting is then proceeded with as follows.

How to Make a Three-Stem Plait

Take three stems and fix them, as above directed, to the table or block, place a tube over each stem, and proceed. First take the stem on the right, pass it over the centre stem and under the left stem, and continue to work from the right until the plait is finished.

How to Make a Four-Stem Plait

Pin the four stems to the table as before, and, always taking the stem at the extreme right, pass over one, under one, over one, continuing this order to the end.

How to Make a 5 Stem Plait

Take the stem at the extreme right, and pass over the next stem and under the next one. Then with the left hand take the stem on the extreme left, and pass under one and over one. This can be remembered quite easily by: right hand over one, under one; left hand under one, over one. This arrangement is continued to the end.

The Eton Crop

An Early 1920's Short Hair Style - that didn't survive long!

The Eton Crop Hairstyle

This hairstyle is smoothed down flat, and pressed close to the head, without waves or curls of any kind whatsoever. It is simply the silhouette of a masculine haircut, and a mode now practically obsolete. It is a mode not suited to many faces and features, and should be recommended only to women possessing regular features and small faces. The costume worn by the lady must also be appropriate, and it is usually smart and neat.

Is there anything you would like to know about 1920's hairstyles? Ask away! I will consult my trusty hairdressing books for answers, and then add the info to this page.

1920's Hair Style Questions - Here's your chance to ask a question about 1920's hair styling

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    • AdeleW profile image

      AdeleW 6 years ago

      This is a great page. I am interested in various hairstyles throughout the ages as we are asked often about the correct hairstyles for certain costumes. This has been very helpful. If you'd like to look at some of our 20s ladies costumes, you'll find some examples here

    • profile image

      SandyPeaks 6 years ago

      Delightful! So nice to see how these styles were created! Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • profile image

      outsource123 6 years ago

      Cheers, that lense was pure awesome.

    • DataLaura profile image

      DataLaura 6 years ago

      They are so nice! Great lens!

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      Delightful article....thank you for sharing.

    • howdoyouspellst profile image

      howdoyouspellst 6 years ago

      I love it!!! Fingerwaved hair is SO cute. Thanks for the great lens!

    • profile image

      Squidoo_Queen 6 years ago

      Excellent lens - Certainly going to try some of these out. Love the fact that you actually show people how to do it rather than send them off somewhere else! Great lens :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      very different style back then...

    • profile image

      Grumpy-Fett 6 years ago

      retro=sexy. Great lens.

    • MagpieNest profile image

      MagpieNest 7 years ago

      Enjoyed this. It was such a change from what had gone before. Fascinating period of history.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I enjoyed this peek into the past. My grandmother was a flapper and her wedding picture would fit this page perfectly!

    • profile image

      Ladyclodine 7 years ago

      Standing in the aisle of a store looking at the vast number of professional flat iron can prove daunting. How to know which ones won't break, won't damage hair and will work the fastest?

    • msbaby profile image

      msbaby 8 years ago

      My grandmother taught me how to fingerwave when I was just a kid. It takes practice and a lot of setting gel to get it right, but you just start with a C shape and do a row, then reverse.

      My favorite pictures of my great-grandmother from the 1920's showed her with a short chin-length bob and her bangs were straight and cut with a V in the center. The sides didn't go straight into the point. They curved over her arched eyebrows. The haircut was very flattering and made her eyes look tremendous. I'm loving all of your information on the 20s!

    • profile image

      homecominghairstyles 8 years ago

      Good work Robert. I am searching for old hairstyles. 1920's celebrity haircuts always have great demand and unforgettable end of universe. Really great lens.

    • profile image

      miragana 9 years ago

      Good day!

      It is very informative and has a very good quality in it.

      I like it...

      Thank you very much for your time.

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 9 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Wow. This was fascinating! Thanks for this!

    • Nancy S Oram profile image

      Nancy Oram 9 years ago

      So well done, Robert, as is all your work. It will take me a long time to see all the sites on your website!

    • profile image

      denalove 9 years ago

      Could you tell me where to get pictures for 20's black hairstyles for my lens.

    • profile image

      Stephene 9 years ago

      I like your lense.. i hv bookmarked this lense and joined your fan club.. (^o^)

    • profile image

      thomasz 9 years ago

      Cool lens. Interesting info.

    • LABELSTONE profile image

      LABELSTONE 9 years ago

      5-Stars all the way!! Please visit my lens about St. Patrick's Day at:

    • profile image

      salesbysandra 9 years ago

      i love the 1920's style. it was do glamorous and decadent.


      check out one of my lens



    • Karendelac profile image

      Karendelac 9 years ago

      I am passionate about Squidoo and your lens is a solid 5 stars. I have just completed a State-of-the-Art Titanic Lens ~~ Please click on Karendelac above, to view it.

    • ChristopherScot1 profile image

      ChristopherScot1 9 years ago

      Gotta love those 20's hair styles. I'm in need of a haircut, maybe I will do a flashback.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 9 years ago from USA

      I'm glad I found this fun lens! 5*

    • FengShuiStyle profile image

      Jennifer Alison Emmer 10 years ago from San Jose, California

      What an imaginative and thoroughly enjoyable lens -- It really makes me want to whip out my curling iron. 5 stars! ;-)


    • profile image

      allysa 10 years ago

      stylish and fantastic! great job Robert :)

    • profile image

      Andrew_Braithwaite 10 years ago

      Will the flat top come in again? Lol

      Visit Rate Your Mum

    • profile image

      docwoman 10 years ago

      Wonderful information and illustrations. I've included a link to your lens in my current module on Vintage Hairstyles

    • Sharlee01 profile image

      Sharon Stajda 10 years ago from Shelby Township Michigan

      Hi. I love this lens. I enjoyed my visit 5stared this one...Shar