Throwback Your Hair: 13 Retro Hairstyles

Do you yearn for the days of refined elegance when ladies dressed in gorgeous frocks, dainty gloves and immaculately styled hair? Here’s your chance to relive the hair glory days with this collection of simple retro hairstyles. The key to success with many of these styles is massive volume, controlled curls and a polished finish. Remember, neatness counts! So break out your Sunday best, your favorite red lippy and some cat-eye-sunglasses for a stroll through the park. Are you ready for your close-up?

40s-Inspired Victory Rolls

40s-Inspired Victory Rolls hairstyle Instagram @deanthestylist

Q&A with style creator, Dean Smith
Owner / Stylist / Master Colorist @ Sola Salon Studios in Highlands Ranch, CO

How would you describe this look and what is your favorite thing about it?

I love having the opportunity to do styles like these! This look is inspired by my favorite era because and is so feminine and glamorous. I learned from a teacher over 20 years ago whose big days were in the 40s and 50s.

Old school roller sets are the way to go, but in our modern salons it’s not feasible to have the time to do this. Backcombing and a solid roller set or hot curl set are essential for any retro style such as this.

What products do you recommend to maintain and recreate this look?

This client was attending a 40s Christmas Ball. I did victory rolls on the top and organized the curls through the bottom. I set her hair with a 1 1/4-inch iron in the front in the direction of the barrel roll. The front was parted on the side and from the back of the ear to the other ear.

In the back, I curled one section under the next section. Below that, I curled up and let the hair cool in hair clippies. I sprayed each section with MOP hairspray before curling. I backcombed to high heaven, then shaped and smoothed the rolls into place and pinned with bobby pins and hair pins.

Did I mention her hair was very long with very long layers and super heavy? It was a little daunting! She wanted to leave the back down, so I backcombed it all then smoothed. I brought two curls through the front that were smoothed and pretty. I finished by spraying with Kenra.

What type of client would you recommend this look for?

Shoulder length hair with layers is ideal for this look, but anything is possible! Any person who has that old school or rockabilly look to them would love this look.

Timeless Hollywood Glam

Timeless Hollywood Glam hairstyle Instagram @shell.vega

Q&A with style creator, Shellie Vega
Hair & Make-up Artist @ Urban Hair Studio in Austin, TX


How would you describe this look and what is your favorite thing about it?

This is a vintage-inspired Hollywood glam look. My favorite thing about this hairstyle is that it gives off such a timeless effect. The beauty of it all is that the classic glam will never go out of style.

What products do you recommend to maintain and recreate this look?

For this look, I used all R+Co products as well as Suavecito Pomade. The R+Co Death Valley dry shampoo will prep and freshen up the hair prior to starting the style. I used Grid as I curled each section to get a slight hold and heat protection.

Once brushed out and molded, I used Outer Space flexible hairspray to set and Suavecito to control any flyaways. I then finished with Vicious firm hold hairspray to shellac it all in place.

What type of client would you recommend this look for?

This hairstyle is extremely versatile and can be styled with many different hair types. It could work well for a variety of people whether it’s someone looking to be formal and classic, or for someone whose wanting to take on a pinup look and head out to a hot rod car show. The possibilities really are endless!

Elegant Victory Rolls

Elegant Victory Rolls hairstyleInstagram @bree_doeshair

Q&A with style creator, Bree Mutschler
Hairstylist @ 3 Little Birds Salon in Denver, CO


How would you describe this look and what is your favorite thing about it?

These are victory rolls! I love the elegance and timelessness of this style. It can be worn as a daily look or as a special style for a formal event.

Fun Fact: Victory rolls got their name from the maneuvers of fights planes in WW2.

What products do you recommend to maintain and recreate this look?

I used Kevin Murphy Hair.Resort spray to prep the hair before styling. I then used Kevin Murphy Session.Spray to control the style. I love the Session.Spray because it has a firm hold and memory to help keep the curls in place.

My secret weapon is a long rat tail comb. It helps me to keep my sections clean and create the backcombing that is so essential to this look.

What type of client would you recommend this look for?

For this look in particular, my client had hair past her shoulders. The beautiful thing about these vintage styles is that there are many ways to recreate them. Anyone can have a style that gives them a retro feel!

FLAPPER CURLS

Transform your little bob into a cute, flapper curl hairstyle.

Short Retro Bob Hairstyle with Curls Short Retro Bob Hairstyle with Curls Back View

How To Style:

  1. Prep clean, dry hair with a light hold working hairspray.
  2. Create a slight off-center parting and begin curling hair using large sections.
  3. Use pin curl clips to secure your curls as you complete them. Continue until all hair is curled and set.
  4. Once completely cooled, carefully remove the clips so as to not disturb the curl.
  5. Accent the fringe and face frame with a coiled finish.
  6. Finish with a light hold hairspray.

Recommended Hair Products:

Try Kevin Murphy SESSION.SPRAY for flexible hold with anti-humidity protection.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is suitable for oval, square and round face shapes. This style works best on medium to thick hair.

Tip:

Accent with Kevin Murphy’s SHIMMER.BUG for that extra glow!

ROCKABILLY DREAM

Are you a bad girl at heart? This massive rockabilly-inspired ‘do will help you break some hearts along the way.

Long Updo with Curls Hairstyle

How To Style:

  1. Prep clean, dry hair with a light hold working hairspray.
  2. Backcomb the underside interior of the hair all over. Sweep fringe and sides up and away from face. Create a slight twist at the back crown area for a side-swept look. Use a hair padding, extensions and/or gentle backcombing for extra support.
  3. Take remaining hair and backcomb a bit more. Next, take small sections and wrap them around for an accented touch.
  4. Curl the last few inches using a large barrel iron. Run fingers through curls for a slightly deconstructed finish.
  5. Finish with a hard hold, high shine hairspray.

Recommended Hair Products:

Try TIGI Bed Head HARD HEAD Hairspray for superior hold and high shine.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is suitable for oval, round or heart shaped faces. This style works best on thick hair.

Tip:

Sweep and wrap hair up to form a massive beehive look.

BRAIDED MAGIC

Blend the old with the new with this modern braided style interpretation that transcends eras.

Modern Updo with Braids and Curls Modern Updo with Braids and Curls Back View

How To Style:

  1. Prep clean, dry hair with a light hold hairspray.
  2. Create a deep side parting and begin your braid on the right side. Use a large hair extension piece if you need extra support.
  3. Sweep the hair up in small sections, then wrap and twist strands around the extension piece. Gently weave through and around to secure. Use large hair pins or bobby pins to secure your style as you go.
  4. Finish off your braid with a bow-like effect by rolling and tucking ends in towards one another.
  5. Curls remaining ends and backcomb gently for a voluminous finish.
  6. Finish with a light hold hairspray.

Recommended Hair Products:

Try Kevin Murphy BODY.BUILDER Volumizing Mousse for flexible fullness and hold.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is suitable for round, oval or square shaped faces. This style works best on medium to thick hair.

Tip:

Accent this look by weaving colorful ribbon through the braid.

SOFT FRENCH TWIST

The elegance of the French twist is gracefully transformed with a high volume finish for a truly retro-inspired look.

French Twist Retro Updo with Volume French Twist Retro Updo with Volume Side View

How To Style:

  1. Prep clean, dry hair with a light hold working hairspray.
  2. Take the fringe and side sections and pin away for now.
  3. Begin in the back by backcombing the base interior of the hair. Gather hair from the nape up, and twist to create your French twist.
  4. Next, move to the sides. Smooth hair, then gently twist and pin up leaving the ends out for now.
  5. Take the crown layers and gently backcomb for extra height. Take small crown section pieces and incorporate them into your look.
  6. Working with deep side parting, sweep fringe over to one side and pin up, leaving the ends out.
  7. Gently deconstruct the ends by backcombing to create your shape.
  8. Finish with a light hold hairspray.

Recommended Hair Products:

Try Kevin Murphy ANTI-GRAVITY volumizer and texturizer for control with oil-free shine.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is suitable for round, square or oval face shapes. This style works best on medium hair.

Tip:

Accent this look with hair jewels.

PROM NIGHT

This radiant, retro-inspired updo is the perfect way to steal the ‘prom night’ limelight.

Radient Updo with Swirls Radient Updo with Swirls Back View

How To Style:

  1. Prep clean, dry hair with a light hold working hairspray.
  2. Create a side parting and begin curling hair in the fringe area.
  3. Take diagonal sections and curl hair using a large barrel curling iron. Secure with bobby pins as you go along.
  4. Next, divide the hair at the back and create two ponytails. Take the top crown ponytail and backcomb for maximum volume. Fan the surface out and smooth. Tuck the ends under to create the top bun.
  5. Then, move to the lower ponytail and backcomb the top side/exterior of the ponytail and flip up and over to form your second bun. Fan and smooth the surface area. Tuck the ends and pin as needed.
  6. Now, move to the side areas. Divide the sections into small pin curl pieces to accent your look.
  7. Finish with a hard hold hairspray.

Recommended Hair Products:

Try Kevin Murphy TEXTURE.MASTER Leave-In for big bouffants and beehives.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is suitable for round, oval or square shaped faces. This style works best on medium to thick hair.

Tip:

Accent with a small feather fascinator.

REAR VIEW HAIR

Wow everyone with this gorgeously swept-up ‘do!

Gorgeous Formal Retro Hairstyle with Side Part Gorgeous Formal Retro Hairstyle with Side Part Back View

How To Style:

  1. Prep clean, dry hair with a light hold working hairspray.
  2. Create a clean side parting and secure the fringe away for now.
  3. Backcomb hair all over for massive interior volume, leaving the perimeter smooth.
  4. Take the back section and sweep hair up, then gently fold and tuck ends under. Secure with bobby pins.
  5. Move to the back crown area and create volume with gentle backcombing. Smooth the surface and twist slightly, then tuck ends under. Secure with bobby pins as needed.
  6. Next, take the fringe and sweep it over to one side.
  7. Finish with a light hold hairspray.

Recommended Hair Products:

Try Oribe Apres Beach for touchable waves with beautiful shine.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is suitable for square, oval or heart shaped faces. This style works best on medium to thick hair.

Tip:

Adorn with a pearl-accented hair pin.

DINNER PARTY DELIGHT

Play hostess for the evening with this delightfully coiffed retro hairstyle.

Formal Updo with Fringe Formal Updo with Fringe Back View

How To Style:

  1. Prep clean, dry hair with a light hold working hairspray.
  2. Create a slight side parting and begin curling using large two-inch sections of hair. Begin in the crown area and work your way down.
  3. Alternate curl placement with horizontal and vertical-shaped curls. Secure in place using bobby pins.
  4. Sweep the sides over and back and pin into place.
  5. Smooth the fringe and sweep over to one side.
  6. Finish with a light hold hairspray.

Recommended Hair Products:

Try DermOrganic Windswept DEFINING WHIP for separation and definition with bounce and movement.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is suitable for oval, square and round face shapes. This style works best on medium to thick hair.

Tip:

Accent with a little red hair bow.

SUICIDE ROLL PONY

Glam up the hot rod flair with this polished pony.

Polished Ponytail with Roll Retro Hairstyles

How To Style:

  1. Prep clean, dry hair with a light hold working hairspray.
  2. Create a deep side parting, then divide hair into two sections.
  3. Begin in the back by sweeping hair smoothly into a ponytail. Secure with a hair tie and wrap a small strand of hair around the base. Divide the ponytail into three strands and curl using a large or medium barrel curling iron to form soft spiral curls from mid-lengths to ends.
  4. Next, move to the fringe area and curl the section from the ends up using a large barrel curling iron.
  5. Brush through the fringe and divide into two sections. Take the front fringe section to form your suicide roll. Then, take the next section and brush through to form a soft curl shape in the fringe.
  6. Finish with a light hold hairspray.

Recommended Hair Products:

Try Kevin Murphy YOUNG.AGAIN treatment oil for smooth, shiny hair.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is suitable for round, oval or heart shaped faces. This style works best on medium to fine hair.

Tip:

Sweep ponytail ends up to accent the crown area.

ROSY OUTLOOK

Accent a sleek retro updo with a rosette-inspired braided bun.

Rosette Inspired Braided Bun Updo Rosette Inspired Braided Bun Updo Side View

How To Style:

  1. Prep clean, dry hair with a light hold working hairspray.
  2. Create a deep side parting, then divide hair into two sections.
  3. Begin in the back by sweeping hair smoothly over to the left side of the head. Secure as needed, depending on hair length. If you hair is short, you can use hair extensions to create your braid and simply wrap it around to form a bun.
  4. Next, move to the fringe area and sweep hair over to the side. Accent with some small pin curls.
  5. Finish with a light hold hairspray.

Recommended Hair Products:

Try Kevin Murphy STAYING ALIVE Leave-In Conditioner for added protection and flexibility.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is suitable for most face shapes. This style works best on medium to thick hair.

Tip:

Accent your braided bun with iron-on hair jewels like Hair Charmsies.

FUTURE PAST

This retro updo offers some spacey shapes that make it out of this world!

Brunette Retro Updo Brunette Retro Updo Back View

How To Style:

  1. Prep clean, dry hair with a light hold working hairspray.
  2. Take the fringe and side sections and pin away for now.
  3. Begin in the back by backcombing the base interior of the hair. Gather hair and fold it over from the right to left side. Secure with bobby pins.
  4. Take the side areas and sweep them up into the style and secure with bobby pins.
  5. Take the crown layers and gently backcomb for extra height. Take small crown section pieces and incorporate them into your look by tucking and folding the ends under. Exaggerate the design by deconstructing some of the ends.
  6. Take the fringe and gently backcomb. Sweep hair up and away from face. Secure with bobby pins. Fold and tuck ends under as needed.
  7. Exaggerate the design by deconstructions some ends to create your shape.
  8. Finish with a light hold hairspray.

Recommended Hair Products:

Try Kevin Murphy UNDRESSED to create a loose, undone, natural look.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is suitable for square, oval or round face shapes. This style works best on medium to thick hair.

Tip:

Accent with a sparkly jeweled barrette.

‘Show them what you got’ with these glam hair looks! Pin these retro hairstyles to your favorite mood board for year-long hair inspiration.