Today we have a guest post by Ruby of Ruby Armoire! I met her on Instagram, and was immediately at awe of her hairstyling skills. I asked her to talk a bit about styling naturally curly and coarse hair into vintage style coiffures, as it's not something I have experience in, and isn't touched on much in the vintage world. Do check out her blog, and I hope you enjoy this guest post! Thank you so much Ruby!
Firstly, a disclaimer of sorts. I am not a hair professional, but over the years I have made a few observations about the stuff that grows out of my own skull, and that of my friends. I hope this post will be useful in helping you to understand your own hair and make the most of it!
Hair textures run on a sliding scale from fine and smooth, to thick and coarse. All hair types have frizz issues too, ranging from static flyaways to a general rough appearance.
My extremely crude diagram shows the four main hair types, but if your hair is anything like mine, it is not so easily pigeon-holed. My hair (when it hasn't been heat styled) falls between curly and coarse.
(I only inflict this image on you for illustrative purposes!)
Vintage hair styles are great for making your hair appear smooth and full bodied, which is achievable for almost all textures once you figure out how your hair behaves. Enter my favourite all-purpose styling product and texture barometer: hair spray. Apply a little to your naturally dried hair near the root and comb through. If your hair absorbs it without adhering and smoothing strands together, then your hair will need a bit of heat to achieve a smooth finish. Chances are that your hair is coarse and naturally curly (like mine), which means getting volume and staying-power won't be an issue! Hair spray is only useful on smooth hair, but blow drying or flat ironing can smooth your hair enough for the spray to take.
If the spray sits on top of your hair and helps it to hold a style, your hair won't need much heat styling for smoothing purposes, but you may need it for volume and to maintain a curl. The best way I’ve found to get a curl to survive through the unrelenting rainy British weather is hairspray and heat combined – that goes for pretty much every hair type. Starting with smooth hair, spray a section, comb through quickly then curl with tongs. The resulting curl will feel horrid and crunchy, but as soon as it is brushed out, the crunchiness magically evaporates and the final curl will be practically indestructible.
If you'd like to know more about curling with tongs and hair spray, have a look at my tutorial for a pictorial guide.
Of course, too much heat styling isn't good for any hair type, but just because your hair needs to take a break from heat doesn't mean it can't still look hot! Wet set pin curls are not only authentic, they look great too. If your hair is naturally curly with a bit of frizz, but can be blow dried smooth (use the hair spray barometer on blow dried hair to check), then wet setting could work for you as well as on fine hair types.
There are a few things to watch out for when pin curling if your hair texture only passes the hair spray test after blow drying, which aren't as necessary for smooth textured types (although you'll get a better curl and a nicer wave if you follow them). Solanah's excellent guide will show you the technique, but here are a few extra tips for the natural curlies.
Firstly, you will need to evenly section your hair into small squares so that as much of your hair as possible is contained in the curls. Make sure each section is soaking wet before pin curling – what’s frizzy beforehand will still be frizzy afterwards. Comb the section at right angles to your scalp (this will help the formed curl to sit correctly later) and run your fingers over the length to ensure it is ribbon smooth. Any bumps or slight tangles will be massively magnified when your hair is dry. Use a narrow cylinder to form the pin curl - I use an empty mascara tube. Wrap the end of the section around the barrel of the tube and curl under until it gets about an inch from your scalp. Push your hair off the tube and flatten it so it looks like a tyre. At this point you can twist the pin curl towards or away from your face. I part my hair on an extreme side parting, and then curl each side towards my face.
Cover your hair with a scarf and leave to dry overnight, or help things along with the aid of a blow dryer. Test one or two of the longest sections to see if they’re fully dry before taking out all of the pins, as the curls will disintegrate into a frizzy mess if there’s even the slightest hint of dampness. Another point in favour of using a blow dryer is it will help smooth the curls, which means you won’t have to brush as much to get a silky-smooth ‘do.