Kitty went to school for fashion design and merchandising. She loves to design, sew, and create fashion inspired by the past.
I Need to Know How!
You have the rockabilly clothes, the rockabilly tunes, and the rockabilly attitude, but you need the rockabilly hair! Here, I will give you instructions and tips on how to do your hair in different iconic styles of the era. We will use some of our favorite rockabilly and pin-up models as guides and muses for this hairstyle tutorial.
The first thing you need to do is to buy the proper hair styling tools. This should include but is not limited to:
- Thermal spray
- Rattail combs
- Styling combs
- Bobby pins
- Hair pins
- A curling iron
- Hot rollers with clips
- Soft-cloth curlers/rollers
- Hair scissors
- Accessories such as flower clips and pins for decoration
DIY Bettie Bangs
Probably one of the easiest, cutest, and most nostalgic rockabilly hairstyles is the Bettie bangs!
What are Bettie Bangs? They are straight, blunt bangs that make a line across the middle of the forehead (as shown on the lovely Miss Bernie Dexter in this picture). Why are they called Bettie Bangs? Because the notorious retro pin-up model Bettie Page made them famous!
I have had Bettie Bangs at least three years out of my entire life, and I absolutely adored them! If you would like to give it a go and cut your own, I guarantee that you can succeed—with a steady hand, of course.
You'll need the following supplies:
- Large clip or banana clip
- Separate a front layer of hair by using your comb and running it at a curve about a third of the way back from the crown of your head. You'll want your bangs to look thick, so you'll need a lot of hair to do this. (Check out the picture for reference).
- Lightly spray or dampen the hair that you have separated and want to cut.
- Take the excess hair that is not a part of your sectioned-off bangs and clip it all to the back of your head using a large clip, hairband, or banana clip—whatever works to keep it from mixing with your bang section.
- Remember that your hair will appear longer when wet, so take care not to cut your bangs too short. You will want to take your pair of sharp scissors and cut your bangs straight across your forehead, about 1½" to 2" above your eyebrows.
- Blow-dry your bangs and see if the length is to your liking. If they are too long, wet, and repeat but trim only 1/4" to 1/2" off—again, you don't want to cut them too short!
Bettie Bangs are a simple way to get an iconic rockabilly hairstyle. Just keep in mind that you will most likely have to wet and dry your bangs every day, as they can look a little funky after sleeping on them at night.
Watch Victory Roll Tutorial Here
You say you don't want the Bettie bangs, but you want a pin-up hairstyle? No problem! Victory rolls might be the perfect option for you.
Victory rolls became very popular in the 1940s and were worn throughout the 1950s as well. They were glamorous and sassy and could be seen on the heads of everyone's mother, as well as Old Hollywood starlets. This is my favorite rockabilly hairstyle and is perfect to wear to a special event such as a prom (for teenage girls), a wedding (for the women), or even a date night. Victory rolls seem like a difficult hairstyle to accomplish at first, but with a little practice and know-how, you will be able to do them in no time!
- Styling comb
- Hot rollers and clips
- Bobby pins
- First, you'll want to set your entire head of hair in the hot rollers and let it cool. If your hair is particularly thin, you can always tease it or brush it back to add some thickness/texture to your hair. Remember to particularly tease the sections of the sides of your head that you plan to make into your victory rolls—hold them up and tease them in the direction of the roll.
- Comb out the hair that will be used to make two victory rolls on the top of your head (similar to the picture on the right). Then hairspray to keep the strands together.
- Because of the curl from the hot rollers, the sections of hair that you want to roll should have a natural curl to the ends. One side at a time, hold one section of hair up so that the natural curl is pointed backward. Loop the end of the hair so that it forms a roll, and continue to roll it all the way to the base. Watch the video tutorial posted here for a better idea as to the direction of the roll.
- Once you have the roll so that the hair looks smooth and the curl is to your liking (as far as size and positioning), pin the insides down to the crown of your head to keep it in place. Use a wide-toothed comb to tame any flyaways and to smooth the roll in the proper direction.
- Experiment with different sizes of rolls, different positions of victory rolls, and different weights. And remember to spray the hell out of it!
Don't forget that you can add a flower to the side of your head, directly underneath one of your victory rolls. Tie the rest of your hair back into a low ponytail or let it hang loose in pretty curly tendrils for a sexier night-time look! Practice makes perfect, so I suggest trying victory rolls at home a few times before wearing them out.
Old Hollywood Pin Curls
Rockabilly Pin Curls Tutorial
Ahhh, the good ol' fashioned pin curl. A quintessential retro rockabilly hairstyle that can be worn in hundreds of different fun ways!
Warning: this particular type of women's rockabilly hairstyle/hairdo takes a lot of practice and is quite time-consuming.
- Rattail comb
- Bandana (optional)
Depending on how the number and size of pin curls you desire, you will want to section your hair into different sections using clips. You can pile the pin curl sections up all the way to the crown of your head or simply do one set of sections—the choice is yours, and don't be afraid to experiment with different types of sets!
- While your hair is very damp and sectioned off, take your first section of hair and comb it out.
- Pinch that section of hair between your thumb and pointer finger and pull your fingers to the very end of the section. You will want to ensure that the tips of your section are fully wet for easy curling.
- Begin to curl the section of hair upwards using thumb and pointer fingers, taking care to keep the end secured between the original thumb and pointer finger. (Also keep in mind that the direction and tightness in which you roll the pin curl depends on what you feel like doing—experimentation is key here too).
- Pin the curl in place using a hairpin in a diagonal position. Criss-cross that hairpin with another going in the opposite direction for maximum hold.
- Continue for the rest of the sections of hair until the entire head has been pin-curled!
If you plan to sleep with your pin curl set to let your hair dry overnight, you may want to wrap a bandana around your hair to keep it from rubbing out during the night. In the morning, or once the hair is dry, take out the hairpins and voilà, instant retro glam! You can comb the curls out and style it whatever way you'd like from here.
© 2011 Kitty Fields
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on October 13, 2015:
You're very welcome. I might keep it in mind next month for my haircut.
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on October 13, 2015:
Thanks, Kristen. Those hairstyles are right for everyone!
Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on October 10, 2015:
Great hub, Kitty. I do like those hairstyles. Though I'm not sure if it's the right one for me.
Tricia Deed from Orlando, Florida on September 27, 2014:
An interesting read.
WheelerWife from Minnesota on August 23, 2014:
Really informative - LOVE vintage hairstyles! The glamor is definitely something you don't see anymore and it's so classic and beautiful
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on January 14, 2014:
Yes, you can. There's a way to do a faux betty bang. Go to Youtube and type that into the search bar "faux betty bangs". :)
chelle on January 13, 2014:
I'm wondering if I can still do some of these styles with no bangs? I'm a hair model and I don't want to do something super permanent to my hair like that.
torrilynn on December 07, 2013:
I like how you name the different looks and how you explain how to achieve them. Thanks and voted up.
joy from phillilpines on November 20, 2012:
wow really ````beautiful i like all your hair style you know i love it. lets be friend
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on July 14, 2012:
Thanks to Mandy, carolinemd21, and hongenert!
Caroline Marie on January 12, 2012:
Great tips. Love 50's hairstyles.
Mandy on January 05, 2012:
Thank you very informative and fun to read!
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on July 07, 2011:
Chatkath - As always, you are a doll! That's awesome that you wore victory rolls in the 70s because I doubt anyone else did! You are unique not strange! Thanks for voting up.
Kathy from California on July 06, 2011:
Very thorough instruction Kitty, I have always loved the victory rolls myself, I actually wore them back in the 70's (yes I was strange :-o)
Awesome Hair Hub-Good job! Rated up!
Kitty Fields (author) from Summerland on July 06, 2011:
Bette - Yes, I know you love rockabilly style anything, dear! :) Thanks for reading.
WittyWeddings - Thanks so much for voting up!
Ebower - I love classic hairstyles, too. The women were just so glamorous and proper back then, weren't they? I sort of wish we still dressed this way.
Erin Bower from Georgia on July 05, 2011:
This was very useful and detailed. I love classic hairstyles!
Hayley LaGarce from Kansas City, MO on July 05, 2011:
You gave a comprehensive explaination of how to rock the rockabilly style. UP!
BetteMachete on July 05, 2011:
You know I love this subject matter and write about it a lot! This was a pleasurable read, very informative.