5.14.2009

How to do rag curls



When searching the web for rag curl directions, I came across creepy child beauty pageant blogs that said "cut some fabric, wet your hair, roll it up, tie it".

Do that and you will cry from the result.

After quite a while of doing rag curls on myself from chin length hair, to past shoulder length, I can show you the the the little things to know only learned from trial and error. So here is the correct way to do rag curls.

You will need:
Strips of cotton fabric. Around 2" X 5" works well.
A comb.
Mousse or something similar.
A brush.



1. Wet hair. I take night showers, so that's easy, but sticking your head under a faucet could be just fine. Make sure your hair is evenly wet, then pat it with a towel.

2. Brush hair out smooth, with the comb part your hair where you want it, I've only ever done it parted down the middle.

3. With the comb separate a front section of hair. I prefer softer curls, so I take about a fingers width of hair. For tighter curls take a bit less. For a retro look make sure and take the section from about eyebrow level, not from the top of your head.

4. Take a rag and roll the section of hair from bottom to top, not super tight, then it wont dry. Tie the rag under the curl.



5. VERY IMPORTANT. Repeat on the other side. Going back and fourth from side to side traveling to the back. If you do one side at a time, your curls will turn our uneven, due to one side drying while the other side is being set. Then you will be sad.

6. Finish the back, I usually do two layers for extra volume.



7. Sleep on it. Or if you are doing this in the morning and plan on it being done in the evening, a cotton kerchief is a cute look for going out during the day, or a pretty little mesh cap for around the house.



8. When you wake up gently untie the rags. Take a brush and brush though all the curls, it will look pretty fluffy.

9. Take a dollop of mousse, rub your hands together and distribute all over your hair, smoothing the curls out.



Ta da!

89 comments:

Meg said...

Super tutorial! I had some miserable, miserable attempts when I first started doing them on myself as an adult. Thanks!

libellule said...

This is amazing. Thank you so much. It's exactly what I need. I've recently cut my hair short, but I think I'll give it a try.

MarketPublique said...

i love this! so adorable!

Atomic Mama said...

oh darlin, dont you use LOTTA BODY?!?


mousse works, but lotta body WORKS!
you can run a marathon adn still have curls in your hair when done. lol.

was nice to visit with you today!

Rosina Lee said...

great example - thank you

Kitten said...

Thanks for the tips, I will have to try it sometime!

Casey said...

Fantastic! I haven't done rag curls in years... (I think the last time I did, it was for a party and I was dressing up in a mid 1780s gown, complete with the poufy hair!) But I may just have to try these again. Thank you so much for the step-by-step tutorial! :)

Q's Daydream said...

hehe...so cute! I wish my hair was longer :oP

Kathryn said...

This is awesome, Thanks! I've been thinking about trying rag curls for a while - I might take the plunge now!

retroliving said...

This such a great how to, I have never attempted rag curls, I am going to try my rag curls tonite using your guide. Thank you for making this great tutorial.

Your polka dot peignoir is so adorable and I am in love with your hat and outfit in the last picture. Simply darling!
♥Darla

Nicole R.J. said...

Beautiful! Thanks for the tut! My mom used to do those for me when I was little... they'd be fun to try out again!

bungalowbliss said...

Thanks for the tutorial! Your curls turned out beautifully...

Jessica Cangiano said...

What an awesome tutorial! I love rag curls and seeing this post reminded me of when my grandma would do them on me as a child (even as a youngster my hair was too fine to hold a curling iron curl, but luckily this time-honored method did the curl trick!).

Thank you for sharing this post - I think your locks turned out beautifully!

Wishing you a splendid weekend,
♥ Jessica

Elaine said...

As someone who has tried many things to get my hair curled I've found that the easiest way to get your hair curled without too much work is to wet your hair until it's just lightly damp and then separate your hair into 2-3 sections and then twist them into individual little buns at the base of your neck.

Leave them in overnight and in the morning just comb your fingers through the curls. My hair is usually pin straight and my curls last almost all day when I do this.

jen said...

this is great! reminds me so much of when i was little (and i was crazy for rag curls). but i didn't use cute printed fabric like you do - they make the whole ritual that much sweeter!

(found you through casey's elegant musings blog)

Amanda said...

Great how to.

Rhiannon said...

Ooh, thanks for the tutorial! I used to do the creepy pageant style rag curls when I was in high school and my hair did end up looking creepy too. Your way's so much nicer.

Erin said...

What a lovely tutorial! I'm not sure if my hair's quite long enough, but I'm going to give it a try!

Rachel said...

i wish my hair would do that, it stick straight and hates curling. every time i try to sleep on curlers i wake up and they're still wet!

Quixsa said...

You are too adorable! Please Please Please do more of these blog entries! I have tried to use this method to curl my hair to no avail until you explained it. And the pictures are delightful!

lexismonkie said...

I'm horrible at hair and you made it really simple. the visuals help a whole lot too!
Thank you for this post!!!

Carol said...

Super how-to and I loved the pics, too. Great job!

poet said...

This looks so cute! Do you have any idea if it's possible to recreate the effect with longer hair? Mine is about waist-long, and I have tried several times to curl it in a similar way, but of course it didn't dry very well, being so long... Happy about any advice, and oh, your blog is fabulous!

Greetings,
poet

Solanah said...

Hello Poet :)

I've found that letting hair dry a bit can be helpful, as I have the same issue. Mine of course is not as long as yours, but very thick, and sometimes even letting it dry somewhat and smoothing some holding lotion before curling may help.

linnea said...

if you dont want to use nice fabric to do this, you can use ordinary toilet paper! it actually works just as well =)

Julia M said...

My mum used to rag my hair when I was youger, and now I do my sister's hair in rags, but I just cannot do it to my own hair!
This was a good tutorial, though!

Gaia68 said...

Thanks. I just cut 8 inches off my daughters hair. It was down to her waist and had never been cut before. Now its mid-back but didnt curl up like it did when she was a toddler. ( She's 7 now). My mom told me how to do rag curls but seeing pics w/ a step by step is great! I cant wait to try it. Thanks so much. Love your blog!!

Camilla said...

Uhh! My hair looks so pretty! Thanks. Loving the vintage vibe. Thanks

Shallow Mallow said...

Thanks for the tutorial :-)
My ends still look a mess but all I need now is a bit more practice.

I used to do pin-curls and go on about how comfy they are to sleep in but this beats them hands down!

Hanako66 said...

this is the best...my hair is super long, but I'm going to give it a shot!

Anonymous said...

Thank you :) Looked all over for a simple tutorial with pics so i know what im doing! Gonna do it tonight for when i see my boyfriend, he loves curls and i love them even more :)

k. said...

the magic part was "tie the rag to the curl".. i could have used a better picture or direction here... otherwise your hair looks super cute.

Spandexpony said...

This is great, thanks! Been thinking about getting a perm since I'm so hair-stupid, but this definitely seems fast and easy!

slovly said...

Solanah, I love this little "how to" on ragcurls! pictures are so cute. I tried ragcurls out, and not so cute on my poor little short hair, BUT it inspired me to do a watercolor of a "Ragcurl Tutorial." I would love to give it to you! Thanks for the inspiration! -Sabrina

Tracy said...

Oooh! Can't wait to try it!

Amara said...

Fantastic Tutorial I plan to try it tonight/tomorrow. I have such trouble getting my long hair to hold curls but maybe the small ones while I sleep will work out! @amazinglyamara

Susan said...

This is awesome. I adore your blog!

calirosie said...

I found this tutorial through a google search and thank you so much for writing this! My hair has finally reached the length of my shoulders and is naturally wavy but I wanted to find a method of enhancing the curl more and this seems to be the ticket:) Your blog is delightful by the way.

msmandabear said...

I love your blog, and I found this tutorial very helpful! I have been trying to figure out how to get those vintage curls. : ) I was wondering, how long does it take you to finish your rag curls? Right now, it takes me about 45 minutes to an hour! I'm sure it will get easier with practice... plus I think I did more sections than you did. I'll have to try more hair in each curl next time.

Thanks again!
Ms Manda

Solanah said...

Hello msmandabear :)

I haven't done rag curls since I cut me hair, but once I go the hang of it, the process took about 15 minutes. Although it did take me much longer at the beginning!

Intro: Andrea said...

hello! wonderful tutorial, can you demonstrate how to do waves? 1930s like? thanks, all the same.

Piccadilly said...

How do you keep the ends inside the curl?

Solanah said...

Intro: Andrea fingerwaves are one of the most difficult hairstyles, even most trained hair stylists can't master it.

Piccadilly, the hair is wrapped around the ends.

Noir said...

how many hours do they keep the curl? Or days? Thanks for the tutorial!

Solanah said...

Noir, it depends on what type of hair you have. Mine is thick and holds curl very well, the curl lasts a couple of days.

Tyjana said...

First, I absolutely LOVE your blog!! You're always so impeccably made up, its such an inspiration.

My dilema is that when I do the rag curls, they turn out very nicely, however after a few hours, my hair is basically matted with knots etc. What am I doind wrong? Haha. My hair is also just below shoulder length, after brushing out the curls lightly.

Solanah said...

Tyjana, thanks so much!

When I had your length of hair I brushed it out pretty heavily, and smoothed it with mousse. Then just shaped it and ran my fingers through until it gets to where I want. It stayed pretty smooth since I brushed all of it out until there were no tangles or knots from the original curls, but I also carry I small comb in my purse so smooth it out on windy days ;)

xoxo

Anonymous said...

don't use a brush thatll ruin curls, use your fingers

Solanah said...

Well obviously not.

Emily said...

Oh thanks! I can't wait to try it on my super straight-thin-flat hair. I wonder what it will do!

Aimee said...

Oh wow, thanks so much for posting this! :D
I absolutely fail at using curling irons, and my attempt at using bobby pins gave me an afro... so I think this will work out nicely. I've got about the same length of hair as Tyjana now. :3
Only, I've got really thin and flat hair so I don't know how full it will be. I'll try to layer as much as I can though.

Aimee said...

Oh darn, forgot my question!
I've been wanting to cut my bangs basically like you have yours, but they have a tendency to separate and look pretty stupid. u.u
How do you manage them? Hairspray and whatnot?

Solanah said...

Hi Aimee!

My bangs are actually pretty easy to manage, but sometimes I'll blow them out with a blow dryer and round brush.

Ivy said...

Solanah,
You have such a darling blog!
I found you through a google search on how to do rag curls. Tried it last night but it didn't turn out quite right, my ends were little stick-out wires.
I would love to see your tuorial on pin curls. :)

At Girls Who Wear Glasses said...

just finished my first attempt at rag curls! i'm going to sleep on them and hope for the best. i'm not so great at pin curls yet but this was a lot easier to do (provided it's not a mess tomorrow ;)) thanks, doll.

Anonymous said...

This is nice, but...I don't understand how to actually start rolling the hair on the strip of cloth. A little help? :)

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous; I'm having a little trouble starting the curls. Do you roll them under, or over? Great blog, though! Thumbs up.

Lisa said...

I've heard that the best fabric to use for rag curls is your old laddered nylons, apparently the fabric wicks away the water in the hair and it dries fast. I might try this soon!

Anonymous said...

Not to be super creepy or anything but you are like extremely pretty. Soooo lucky! Curl thing is awesome though. Thanks.

Sick Momma said...

Fabulous tutorial!! My kindergartner is envious of my naturally curly hair, and since I'm clueless when it comes to creating curls, I've been buying various kinds of tools to help. I totally forgot about rag curls until finding a packet at a store at the mall last weekend. It wasn't what I expected -- something that reminds me of the cloth diaper wipes are made of but treated with something sticky -- but it inspired me to google rag curls, and voila, I found your awesome tutorial. Thanks, both for the step-by-steps AND for the fabulous photos of each stage!

Turns out, I've got tons of great scraps from quilting that I think she'll be as excited over as the curls if they turn out anything remotely like yours!!

(I'm continuously mind-boggled over how girly-girl my kid turned out to be. Thank goodness for the web and blogs like yours to help me along the way!!)

Jami said...

My 1.5 y/o has curly hair at her nape and poker straight everywhere else , can't wait to try these on her after tubby time.

Tracey said...

Wonderful tutorial!!! I cant wait to try them after I get my hair cut. (it is just too unmanageable right now)

oregonjewelry said...

I have always want to know how to do this! Thanks for the amazing tutorial!

Michelle said...

Thanks SO much for posting. I've been wondering how to do these for the longest time. This was incredibly helpful : ) I'll be trying this out tonight!

Thanks again!

xx Michelle

PS Check out my blog, http://redlipstickblog.blogspot.com/

Janie said...

I just found your site searching for "rag curls"...nice site....

Välkommen till 43an said...

You have a really wonderful and inspiring blog.

Thank you for sharing this!

stacey said...

I am a hairdresser and a mother of 3 girls and never even thought of doing rag curls!...they always want me to put the pink rollers in and I'm to lazy lol....this is the cutest site EVER!!! I love all the vintage pics!! great job I can't wait to try it on the girls tomorrow.. thanks for sharing

Claire said...

Thanks so much!!! Just tried it...my hair is like yours: brown, bangs. Just a lot longer. I can't wait to see how it turns out! Curling wand only makes waves, nothing else works, and pins curls are frizzy!

Anny said...

My hair never holds a curl. Ever. So when I tied my hair up last night and went to sleep, my last thoughts were that I was going to have a 'fro when I woke up. Nope! It was curly and poofy, but it was wonderful! I'm doing it again next weekend for a costume-do. Thanks for the super-easy-to-follow tutorial!

Jessica said...

Thanks for sharing this! :)

titancia said...

This may sound extreme but, thank you--this has literally changed my life. My hair does not hold a curl--by the time you get to the other side with a hot iron it's already falling out. My hair is stick straight and the only thing that has ever held before is a crimp (you can only imagine the poof that causes!) I am now curling my hair for the third time in less than 2 weeks because it holds so well--and it stays for two DAYS! I'm just thrilled. So thank you. If you hadn't made it seem so easy I don't think I would have tried it. So thank you.

Solanah said...

Well that's fantastic! You might also try pin curls as well, they are my current favorite, and allow more control over the way the curls go.

xoxo
Soalnah

Dana Smessaert said...

soo much better than other site i was using so now i shall follow you :)

KatieCupcakes said...

Hi :) I am rather new to blogging (but loooving it) and I was wondering whether I could put a link to this post on my blog http://kikikaties.blogspot.com because there is no way I can do a better rag-curl tutorial than this!! I love you blog, by the way! It inspired me to start blogging
love kate

Solanah said...

Thanks Katie I would love that!

KatieCupcakes said...

Hi Solanah...
Here are the two pages of the blog posts I did which are about you, or link to Vixen Vintage! I hope you like them!

http://kikikaties.blogspot.com/2011/11/katie-cupcakess-style-icon-of-week.html

http://kikikaties.blogspot.com/2011/11/rag-curls-with-vixen-vintage.html


xxKatie

caitymay said...

Hallo! Amazing tutorial, thank you. One thing though - how do you start the curl? Do you put it on the rag, then use the rag to roll the hair up? Or do you roll the hair up, then tie it in place with the rag? Please help! Thank you :)

Solanah said...

The hair is rolled around the rag, then tied.

Cation Designs said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this amazing tutorial! It is seriously a minor miracle that I've gotten some fabulous curls to stay in my hair! I just wrote about and linked to your tute on my blog. Again, my deepest gratitude for changing my hair life. Seriously.

Albusowner said...

Thanks for the great tutorial! I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog!! I linked you in my post:

http://misscooperblog.blogspot.com.au/2012/03/vintage-hairstyles.html

LAKeegan said...

You make this look so easy, what tips do you have for someone who is trying it for the fist time? I was in the bathroom trying to get my straight hair to roll up properly in the strips of cloth and after 20 minutes of no success with even one single section of hair, I was in tears from frustration. :(

abi-girl said...

I love your vintage look, it's so cute! I'm amazed at how perfect your curls came out, my hair is always so wild after wet hair rag rolling.

I've also done a dry rag rolling tutorial for loose waves!

http://abi-girl.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/rag-roll-hair-organic-no-heat-styling.html

Lexi Vay said...

Holy moly, I tried this last night and now I've got hair like Carrot Top! My hair has NEVER been able to curl as it's very fine and very stubborn but wow, after this I find myself in need of de-frizzer and starting to understand the problems my curly haired friends complain about. Heehee, I can't wait to do this tomorrow!

Lacey said...

I've been experimenting with pin and rag curling a lot lately trying to achieve a vintage hairstyle and i find my searches often lead to your blog posts. Unfortunately, pin curling does not seem to be possible on my long, fine hair. The rolling causes way to much frizz and it doesn't hold. The rag curls worked really well to make curls, but the ends were super frizzy and nappy feeling! When I brushed the curls out they went POOF like a poodle and very unattractive. It's weird because my hair is usually very silky never frizzy. I was hoping for the end result like your loose ringlets but though I followed all the steps near as I can tell, it doesn't seem to work. Grrr. Frustration. Any more tips?

Beverley said...

Thanks for the tutorial! Love the way you did your photos - especially the photo of you "sleeping" :)

I did my 4 yr old's hair this way last night for photos today and she liked it so much I had to do it again today just because.

I didn't bother with the brush & mousse steps; I just finger-combed it lightly this morning.

DamnedYankee said...

Any tips for getting these to work on someone who already has very curly hair? I was hoping the rag curls would loosen my naturally tight curls. .... and um my hair looks like Magenta's "in Rocky Horror"

A. S. said...

Thanks for the tutorial! I've looked at a few other ones, but the pictures really helped. I cut my waist-length hair to a 1920s bob last autumn and now it's about shoulder-length, and I have been wanting to curl it for a while. (it's naturally curly when it's extremely short, but apparently it's too long now to curl on it's own) I'll try this tonight and see how it turns out!

Ginny-Joy said...

Could you help me? I am also classically British and have often been told I have the face of a 1920's girl...why not get the hair to match?!
My hair is very frizzy and super impressionable; I tried dry rag rolling to just under my ears and woke in the morning with tiny, tight ringlets, not quite the look I was going for!
Have you any tips on how to soften the curl? I tried rolling less tightly but it just fell out. Would silk work better for my type of hair? Many thanks, your tutorial is on the best :)

Solanah said...

Ginny-Joy, you may want to try looking up tutorials for pin curls, that offers more control in the type of curl you can achieve.