1940s Hairstyles

Jodie Michalak
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Capture 1940s glamour.

If you want to capture the romance and glamour of a bygone era, these 1940s hairstyles ideas are both classic and timelessly chic.

Popular 1940s Hairstyles

The forties were known as one of the most popular eras for sophisticated hairstyles. Unlike the current trend of women using flat irons and pigtails as an escape from hair primping, women in the 1940s spent hours, if not days, coiffing their hair into tight ringlets and waves to create feminine styles. If you have the time and skill to invest in a few of these classic techniques, you can create a variety of elegant looks.

The Chignon

The chignon gained popularity in the early 1940s. Today, this style is a very popular formal style used for both special occasion dances and weddings. The chignon is typically styled with a flat crown, or base, with a full and voluminous midsection that is worked into a tight nape-kissing bun. The chignon works best on medium to long hair types, but can be modified using clip-in hair pieces and hair extensions. So classic is the chignon, it can be styled from a set of small braids or even tight pin curls to create a variety of textures. For best results, always start with-day old hair and plenty of hairspray to keep the style smooth and secure.

Pin Curls

Anyone who's spent hours in cosmetology school knows how difficult pin-curls are to create. While they may sound easy in theory, a pin curl is one of the most difficult of all hair manipulation techniques, yet they create such elegant and unique results that time is well spent learning the skill.

To create a pin curl, damp hair should be parted in small 1/4 inch sections with a rat tail comb. Once hair has been sectioned and combed, apply a thin texture but high hold setting lotion from the base to the end of the sectioned piece. Re-comb the section to ensure all hair is directed together and slowly wrap the end of the hair up to the scalp into a tight roll. Secure the section with a metal hair clip. Clipping techniques will vary the type of curl result. Curls that are clipped directly on top of the scalp on the roll will create an on-base set, while clips that are positioned to the left or the right of the curl will create an off-base set. If you want curl that begins at the scalp and cascades to the ends, you should aim for strategic on-base placement with each and every pin curl.

Finger Waves

Finger waves are yet another bygone style that can be worn to create beautiful waves no matter what your hair's natural texture. Another difficult style to master, finger waves take plenty of practice for best results.To create finger curls, start with damp hair and apply a thin yet firm hold styling lotion. Apply liberally. Section hair into workable sections and comb hair back and away from the face. Gently push the hair into an S-formation and slide fingers back a finger width and repeat. You can modify the intensity of the wave by varying the distance in between your formations. Once hair has been set into the waves, you'll need to dry thoroughly overnight or all day. Once hair is dry, you can keep the waves slick or brush them out to create fabulous soft curls.

Roller Sets

If you want quick and easy, a roller set is your best option for creating sensual 1940s hairstyles. Start with day old hair and tightly wrap 1/2 inch wide sections onto varied width hot rollers. Rather than direct hair and sections at a 90-degee straight up angle, set the rollers off-base to create a flattened crown. Allow rollers to cool completely and spray heavily with hairspray prior to removing them. Once removed, flatten the volume at the crown and gently finger comb the remaining curls. A flat crown is the best way to mimic a 1940s roller set, as women of the forties wore hats and left the tops of their styles flat to accommodate their adorned accessories.

Always Accessorize

To achieve the true glamour of the 1940s, you'll want to accessorize every well-coiffed style. Whether you adorn your pin curls with a rhinestone clip or pin-back your roller set with a crystal barrette, accessories are key to completing these fancy vintage hairstyles. In addition, don't forget a siren shade of red lipstick and your best black dress.


While 1940s hairstyles are time intensive, the results are striking and elegant, and fit for any bride, prom princess, or modern day glamour girl! Whether you want to recreate a true vintage look or a retro style with modern edge, these hairstyles can be fun and fashionable in any era.

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1940s Hairstyles