Monday, 19 August 2013

The hair set that didn't

It ended up in this state again.
As we were going to Lacock at War and Dig For Victory over the weekend (more on that later in the week), on Saturday I tried to set my hair for the first time ever.
I've never been particularly good at or fussed about doing my hair: as a high-school kid in the late 80s I had a a giant, highlighted perm (thinking about it, probably one of the few times I bothered doing what everyone else was doing), then when I got to university and could get away with it, dyed it jet black, and kept it jet black and naturally straight for quite sometime thereafter. The closest it ever got to being in a hairdo was when I'd plonk it in a bun.

Gemma (Retrochick) and Charly (Landgirl1980) have regularly posted about the lovely things they do with their hair, and I've been wanting to try it for some time. I bought Lauren Rennell's book Vintage Hairstyling from Pinup Parade, but her instructions were a tad scary. All that stuff about triangular and rectangular sections of hair - it's as much as I can do to get a straight parting. The book has stayed largely on the shelf!

Then last week, Tasha at By Gum, By Golly, posted 'A fast roller set for everyday vintage hair'. I loved her really detailed photos, which make it easy to see what you should be going. I don't like watching YouTube tutorials, so this was perfect for me. And it is a really good tutorial; armed with newly-purchased setting lotion and foam rollers, I was able to follow Tasha's instructions, inept as I am at hairstyling.

I went to bed, rollers all nearly tied under a silk scarf. I was so excited the next morning. I unrolled the rollers and it wasn't that curly, even where I'd had little rollers in. A good brush out and... the curls were pretty much brushed out.

So, hair gurus, where might I have gone wrong? These are things I reckon might have been the culprit:

Using regular setting lotion - perhaps extra strong would've been better on fine, straight hair
Not using enough setting lotion
Trying to set my hair after washing it - perhaps the lotion all soaked off into the scarf/my pillow as I slept

If you have any ideas what caused it all to drop out, I'd love to know!


  1. Okay, supposing it was damp when you went to bed and dry when you got up, my best guess is that the rollers are too big. I would be tempted to try rag curling instead and maybe a stronger setting lotion.

    Also, if you can finger comb or use a wide tooth comb rather than brushing out, that will preserve the curl a bit.

    Frankly, though, the last time I tried rag curling the hair of a patient Asian friend, the curl had buggered off by lunchtime, so it may just be that your hair is the kind of straight that resists being anything *other* than straight.

    BTW, is your hair paler than when I last saw it? It looks that way in the photo. It's pretty and goes very well with your hat.

    1. I've never tried rag curling, I'm still at the 'unspeakable idiot' level of hair styling :-)

      I did wonder if the Asian ancestry had a hand in things; my hair is naturally very straight and has never shown much inclination to curl or wave. It is a bit paler at the moment, I've been growing out dye so it's got about 3in of natural colour. For some reason the bits in front of my ears is paler than the rest. I quite like the effect.

  2. My hair is naturally really, really straight but I can get a pretty good set with foam rollers. I find the trick with my hair is to start with hair that is completely dry, not damp. After I put the rollers in then I spritz it with some water. I know you said you don't like to watch youtube tutorials but I did do a video last year if you want to set how mine turns out: I rarely use any setting lotion and my sets last at least 2 days.

    1. Hmm, that's interesting - I might give that a try next time. Tasha's tutorial was excellent for getting the rollers in, so I'm certain the problem is with how I'm using the lotion.

  3. Oops, I forgot to add that adding a splash of lemon juice to the spray water can work well to hold the curls in longer. The acid "sets" the curl better than plain water.

  4. I know what you mean, I don't 'do' hair either, I am beyond useless at that kind of thing. I'd love to be able to go to a really good hairdresser, the kind who can do these things, now and then just for the fun of it.
    I have a natural wave in my hair and a curl used to stay but doesn't seem to nowadays. But I do have health problems and it tells on the hair, I think it's just knocked the stuffing out of it! It's also probabaly a bit too long now to hold it well.
    I have a friend with very heavy, thick hair and there is absolutely nothing on this earth that will make it curl.
    Fine hair can be a bit of a sod to deal with too, though, it just flys about and refuses to take.
    Trial and error, I suppose, if you can be bothered to keep going...rags hurt like the Dickens, though....I know, I used to have them shoved in my hair a as a child before special events etc, sleep was impossible!

    1. Well, I was looking at some late 1950s Vogue Knittings the other night and their hair wasn't far off mine, so perhaps the solution is to stick with a midcentury or flapper look, both of which are fine with straight hair!

  5. Hello hello!

    Well - thats a kick in the pants ain't it!!! BUT. Do not give up. There is much trial and error to be had with this hair setting malark. Clean hair is notorious at dropping out on me and I get the best curls on 2 day old hair. The rollers may have been too big or the hair might have been a tad damp still when you took it out. All of which will ensure those curls you were so excited about bugger off quick smart.

    What setting lotion did you use? There are some really crappy ones out there at the moment - it seems that the shops have stopped stocking any thing worth having (in my opinion) so I tend to buy LottaBody online from a store in London called PAKS. They have a lot to choose from on there, from setting lotions you mix with water to setting foams.

    Now you have the pattern down (i too have never followed a set pattern in my LIFE and feel the same about that book. Triangular bits of hair? Huh?) you can try other implements. There is a tutorial on my hair bit of the blog about rags and they have been known to give me a curl no matter what.

    If you need any advice - pop me an email :)

  6. You can also try mousse or just plain old water. Everyones hair reacts differently to products. For eg - mine at the moment HATES setting lotion, despite a few months ago giving me the best sets I have ever had.