Arts Entertainments

1950s Hairstyles

Hairstyles of the 1950s emphasized traditional gender roles. While women’s hair was long, curly, and high-maintenance, men wore their hair in short cuts, military style, or pulled down and away from the face. Men’s hair that touched the ears went against the grain and was even illegal in some parts of the US.

Movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Lauren Bacall, and Marilyn Monroe wore curly updos, while famous men like James Stewart, Cary Grant, and President Dwight Eisenhower wore their hair in short, harsh cuts. Younger men had a little more freedom, but not much more; some emulated James Dean and Elvis in cultivating a pompadour or pompadour-like haircut.

For women in the 1950s, hair required a lot of work. If your hair was straight, the easiest way to curl it was to use a lot of small rollers (and / or rollers) in your hair, and then let them sit over the course of hours, or even a night’s sleep. Women could also go to the hairdresser and get a perm, which chemically set the curls in their hair until it grew out or (with some processes) was loosened by washing. Bangs were very popular with women; women even curled them to match the rest of their hair.

For African American women, their naturally curly or diaper hair was looked down upon. Many women had their hair straightened or chemically relaxed, while African American men kept their hair short. The hairstyles of the 1950s for African Americans reflected the popular styles of the time, with the limitations that relaxed hair brought.

As the 1950s progressed, women’s hairstyles increased in volume and streamlined waves faded in favor of larger hairstyles such as ruffles. These required hairspray and blow-drying to maintain their volume.

Debbie Reynolds in I Love Melvin. In the 1950s, curly hair was all the rage. Unlike today’s handheld hair dryers, a hair dryer from the 1950s was a large cap, attached by a large tube to a heater. The cap passed over his head; When the heater was plugged in and turned on, the heat passed through the tube and into the cap. This was, essentially, a homemade version of the big conical hair dryers you would see in a salon.

Handheld hairdryers and curling tongs became more popular in the late 1950s. Handheld hairdryers offer less precision for the average user, but can make hair bigger and bigger.

For men, electric razors also became more popular in the 1950s. Men began shaving themselves rather than going to the barbershop; this also allowed her hair to be shortened even further at the back, leading to the iconic ‘flat top’ hairstyle of a very short back with longer hair at the crown.

Men’s 1950s hairstyles were limited to flat or pomade hair styled from the forehead. Young adventurers would go for a pompadour or pompadour, a combination of flat haircut and pompadour. The DA (duck ass) haircut was popular with young men, although it was frowned upon by more traditional members of the community.

Both men and women wore their hair short. Due to the high maintenance curly appearance, many women with straight hair kept their hair at jaw length or shoulder length. As far as I know, it was very rare to see grown men with mops or “bowl cuts” during the 1950s. Even young boys imitated their elders with short hair.

Some young women, such as teddy girls and butch lesbians, opted for a more androgynous or masculine look. In the 1950s, this was very rare and even risky: a masculine hairstyle on a woman could get her arrested or assaulted for alleged homosexuality, and later considered a perversion.

This article originally appeared in the Vintage Styles section of Enjoy Your Style.

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