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Hairstyles Through the Decades

Updated on August 19, 2016
Austinstar profile image

Lela earned a B.A. degree in Journalism from Sam Houston University in Huntsville, TX. She has been writing for the online world for years.

Pin Curls of the 1940's

40's Look for hair styles
40's Look for hair styles | Source

1940's Pin Curl Hair Styles

World War II was the defining icon of the 1940s. In 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and the U.S.A. joined the war. So many men went off to war that women were left behind to fill factory jobs, grow Victory Gardens and become members of the WAC's - Women's Army Corps and WAVES - Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service. Of course they wanted to look good for the troops and needed to find easy stylish hair styles.

Eleanor Roosevelt is appointed the first U.S. delegate to the newly established United Nations. "Babe" Didrikson created the Ladies Professional Golf Tour. Women were unleashed to rule the world.

Pin curls were so easy to do that women could literally do them in their sleep. The trick is to wash you hair at night, let it get almost dry, then make curls and use hair pins to set the curls in place. Wrap the hair with a silk scarf and the next morning the pins are removed, and voil√°, A quick light combing or finger toss and off to work you go! Sometimes a bit of hair spray is crucial to keeping the curls in place. This also explains why Lucille Ball woke up with the scarf on her head.

The Andrews Sisters became legends with Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy. Ella Fitzgerald was a jazz singing super star. All without ever a hair out of place.

The Hair Stylings of the 50's

Marilyn Monroe wore the Flip. Big curls and shorter hair that needed hair rollers every night were the style. Elizabeth Taylor was the dark haired beauty of the styled and set crowd. Every hair had to be perfectly in place and hair spray was not optional.

Heated curlers weren't even in vogue yet, but women heated old fashioned iron curlers and used them to set their flips. It was not uncommon for women to burn their hair during these frightful times and spending two hours on one's hair was just a starting place.

Chemical perms created all sorts of beautiful shapes and waves and more or less held the hair in a flowing groomed look for a few months. It wasn't really permanent. Hair technicians were in demand even though they were called 'beauticians' at the time.

Hair Styles of the 60's

The flip hairstyle gained ever higher curls and bouffants. Hair spray still ruled as the must have purse ingredient. In fact they even named a few movies based on the big hair of the 60's!

It seems as though just about any hairstyle worked in the 1960s. There was long hair, short bobs, little curls, big back combed hair and 'afros'. In the late 60's, Sonny and Cher wore the iconic 60's hairstyles.

Janis Joplin and Audrey Hepburn demonstrated the difference between coiffed hair and long natural, not to be tamed, hair. The Beatles started a trend for long-haired men and "hippies".

1970's Iconic Hairstyles

If you were young and hip during the 1970s, you wanted to look just like Farah Fawcett and the other Charlie's Angels. If you were a fun and sporty woman, you wanted the wedge hair cut of Dorothy Hamill.

Cher was still leading the fashion for all dramatic women with her long, straight and black locks. Oh so many people wanted that look. She was like the Madonna of her age. The long, sleek look complimented her face and body.

And then along came the famous mullet hairstyle. The style for men first and then ladies of questionable sexual orientation, the mullet just seemed like it never wanted to go away. The mullet wig is one of the most popular wigs for Halloween. You can get these at Amazon, eBay and scores of other stores. Billy Ray Cyrus will forever be known for his hairstyle. It just screams red neck, y'all.

Hairstyles of the 80's and Beyond

Oprah had an "almost" mullet. But women and men everywhere started wearing their hair in a pretty much natural state. Hair cuts became pricey and ultra stylistic. You had to get your own cosmetician who could do your specific cut. Sometimes the cuts were bizarre.

The rock star look was in vogue. Madonna made vogue a household word. Hair was spiky and had fun colors. Makeup became a huge deal! Watch the video and learn how to apply the ultra fun 80's makeup and funky hair look.

The 90's continued in much the same style and so far in this century, there is no perceivable defining hairstyle. Spiked hair seems to be popular this decade, but any kind of hair style is acceptable. No one really does pin curls anymore unless you are looking for a 'retro' look.

So just go crazy or stay sane with your hair. Whenever you find a hair technician that you like, stay with them!

© 2012 Lela

Comments- Would you ever wear a wig?

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    • teddi6 profile image

      teddi6 5 years ago from Northern California

      My cowlick lives on hair spray. Not the cutesy stuff, Final Net!

      Thanks for the update.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      All I remember is that my mom would wet the hair, twirl it around her finger and secure it with a bobby pin. She also had these fancy schmancy bobbin type things that she would wrap the curl around and snap it shut. I have no idea what they were called.

      I also do not remember if there was a certain direction that she would use to curl. Basically, she brushed out the curls in the morning and I would look like Shirley Temple or Annie. Then she used a lot of hair spray which I totally hated.

    • teddi6 profile image

      teddi6 5 years ago from Northern California

      Please give more tips on pin curling. Does direction make a difference? I've done it a few times, with a horrid "Dennis The Menace" cow lick at the crown of my head, if the curl isn't just right I look ditzy.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I wrote the article as more of a suggestion for wigs for Halloween. At least it started out that way. I will revise it soon.

      Thank you for commenting and providing feedback.

    • profile image

      ElleBee 5 years ago

      Great overview of the hairstyles. As mentioned by other readers,I wish there were more pictures of the hairstyles. I clicked on the article mostly to see pics.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Shagalicious, baby!

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Oh boy - I do remember having pin curls in as a really little girl! And remember those old metal perm rollers? They would frizz your hair out like a freak!

      Or the shag?

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Oh man, I do remember those, Scribenet. Yuck!

    • Scribenet profile image

      Scribenet 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Remember those horrible bristly curlers one had to wear that dug into the scalp and removed half the hair when they got tangled and the awful plastic pins that wedged them into your

    • vibesites profile image

      vibesites 5 years ago from United States

      These hairstyles of the past are making pretty much of a comeback recently, especially when you see celebrities today sporting the old Hollywood glamour look on the red carpet. Except maybe for the mullet look. :)

      Thanks for posting that wonderful hub. :)

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I will not mention my age either guys. Suffice it to say I have worn some of these hairstyles. Ok, mostly from the 60's.

    • jimmythejock profile image

      James Paterson 5 years ago from Scotland

      These bring back some long lost memories lol, but I won't mention the decade that I can remember them from, nice article, thanks for sharing.....jimmy

    • christopheranton profile image

      Christopher Antony Meade 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

      When I had long hair, in the seventies, I got a perm once. It looked alright until it started growing out. Then it looked awful. I never tried it again. I haven't got enough hair to do it now.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I was a Shirley Temple guinea pig for my mom who was a 'beautician'. She pin curled, rolled, permed and teased my hair so much as a child that it's a miracle I still have hair! Now I just cut my hair myself and let it fall where it may.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      If you promise to keep it to yourself, Lela, I confess I had my pin curl days. Happy those are behind me now. Today I'm content to have a haircut that requires little fuss to stay neat if not respectable. Loved this hub and the historical asides.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 5 years ago from Washington

      Yes but in the hot Texas sun, you'd be burned all the time~ I know that feeling here in the hot high mountain desert sometimes---I ended up going blonde because my hair color simply faded to the point where it was impossible not to---learned my lesson now---back to darker and wear a hat at all times---cuts down on fixing my hair, too~

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Sometimes I wish I could go bald, Audrey. No muss, no fuss!

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Individual hairstyles should be entirely up to the wearer. Like clothes and makeup, we should be able to live freely. I can't imagine life in a burkha.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 5 years ago from Washington

      I'm wanting to go back to the bouffant hairstyle myself~ Sure! My aunt used to wear this beehive "do" that was sprayed with hairspray I'm surprised her hair didn't break into little itty bitty sticks when she took it down. To this day, I can't stand hairspray and when I go to have my hair cut, colored or whatever, the first thing I do when I get home is wash it~ I can't imagine how these ladies made it through with their hair so sprayed and ratted up---and think if they lit a cigarette~ It is interesting though to remember all the different styles and then think about today's---maybe I'll opt out for a mullet one of these times--give the dogs a thrill. Although now that I'm gonna be a grandma, I guess I'm going to have to clean up my act and be more responsible~~~ ha ha

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      Hard to imagine how women wore their hair. Today we can do almost anything we want. There are fewer rules about dress and hair.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 5 years ago from United States

      Great hub, Lela. As Angela mentioned...I too was hoping for some pix next to the styles. It would make my understanding better. Right now I am visualizing in my own way ;)

      Good idea on this hub and many votes as I/U

    • Austinstar profile image

      Lela 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I may edit the hub and add more photos soon. I remember when my mom used to do my pin curls and otherwise experiment on my hair. She was a 'beautician'.

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 5 years ago from United States

      I was hoping for more pictures. I got excited when I saw this hub. A lady I used to take care of (elderly) always wanted me to do her hair in pin curls. She taught me how, but I never got the hang of it. Fortunately she couldn't see too well, so she always said it looked perfect.