_08When she discovered film siren Betty Grable some years ago,  Amanda Newsum instantly became enamored with her hair.  Grable’s glorious blonde locks were always beautifully coiffed in a variety of styles that epitomized the big, glamorous hair of the Forties.  Pinned up in victory rolls or worn in loose curls, her golden blonde tresses were always the peak of perfection.

And when she posed for a  now famous peek-a-boo shot in 1943, with her curls piled atop her head in a lush updo, she made the boys swoon and the ladies longing for that mane. Luckily for us Amanda has compiled a step-by-step guide to recreating the famous do.

Aside from the ever popular victory or reverse rolls, Betty’s updo is one of the hairstyles that screams quintessential Forties to me.  It has become a personal favorite style for my own hair as well, and I frequently pin my hair up in a variation of it, especially when I am looking to add extra glamour to my look.

To create this style, start by setting your hair in small rollers. I prefer to cold-set my hair, as I find I achieve a longer lasting set via this method, but hot rollers will work as well. If you decide to go with a hot set, I recommend using Conair Hot Sticks. I find that this type of roller is hotter than regular flocked rollers, and their small diameter works to achieve a faux pin curl set.

Step One bwFor a cold set, I like to work with hair that is barely damp, and comb a small amount of setting lotion, such as Lottabody, through it before rolling it in one each sections.  Each section should be rolled under, with the front sections angled towards the face.

The same method applies to hot sets as well, although the hair should be completely dry of course.  After the hair is set in hot rollers, I like to mist it with a thermal setting spray, such as Redken Spray Starch or Hot Sets. If you don’t have such a setting spray handy, a misting of hair spray will work as well.

Once the hair has dried (or cooled), I remove the rollers and gently brush through the curls with a boar and nylon bristle paddle brush.  I prefer to use this type of brush, as the nylon bristles comb neatly through the hair while the boar bristles minimize static.  Boar bristle brushes are also perfect for smoothing flyaways—mist the hair with hair spray and gently brush over the section and those annoying little hairs will disappear (see picture right).

Step Three bwStep Two bwAs I do not have true bangs, I generally roll the front section of my hair in double or triple reverse rolls, depending on my mood.  I then take the remaining hair and carefully brush it forward and upward, taking care that the back is neatly smoothed.  Once it is pressed forward at the crown, I form a neat row of small bobby pins, hiding them carefully.  The hair should now be taking the shape of the peek-a-boo do, though the loose ends will be quite fluffy and in need of neatening.

Gently form the ends into soft curls, using small pins to secure each section as needed.  I sometimes reshape the curls using hot rollers (a small barrel curling iron would work well too)—simply remove the rollers and pin the neat curl that has formed.  Once you are pleased with the style you have created, mist with hair spray and add a little shine spray as a finishing touch.  The peek-a-boo do looks lovely accented with a flower or two, placed to your liking, so accessorize as you please.

A variation on this hairstyle can be created by grasping the back section as if you where forming a ponytail, and then twist the hair while pulling it upward, as if you are creating a French twist.  Pin the hair along the twisted portion, leaving the ends loose to style as above.

Step Five bwStep Four bwAnother tip, if you are having trouble with your hair wanting to stay in the style using a row of pins or the “twist” method, is to form a ponytail, and instead of using an elastic band by itself, insert two pins on opposite sides of a clear elastic band.  Insert one pin into the center of the ponytail and wrap the band around the sectioned hair, inserting the other pin to hold the hair.   This will hold the hair securely without giving away your ponytail secret.

There you have it—the secrets of one of Betty’s most famous hairdos.  I hope you enjoyed this article and have fun experimenting with the style!

Step Six bwFinished! bw

8 Responses

  1. Rocketblast

    It looks fabulous – I would love to see you do this on video.

  2. Ali

    This is why I’ve worn my hair short for years. I’m all thumbs with up-dos. It looks fabulous tho!

  3. vivian gonzalez

    i love this and i really im going to try to do it
    its going to be a challenge
    im super xcited

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