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Women’s Hairstyles

10 Fabulous Pictures of Women’s Hair & Make-Up from the 1920’s

Four beautiful examples of the 1920s Hair and Make-up most fashionable styles.
Four beautiful examples of the 1920s Hair and Make-up most fashionable styles.
Actress Agnes Ayres (Found on fineartamerica.com)
Actress Agnes Ayres (Found on fineartamerica.com)
Pola Negri in the mid-1920s styling a Cocunut Cut. This haircut was a must have for women who preferred the fringe, despite the unflattering name.  (Found on fineartamerica.com)
Pola Negri in the mid-1920s styling a Cocunut Cut. This haircut was a must have for women who preferred the fringe, despite the unflattering name. (Found on fineartamerica.com)
Beautiful portrait of Louise Brooks showing her iconic Bob Cut, 1920s
Beautiful portrait of Louise Brooks showing her iconic Bob Cut, 1920s
African-American beauty styling Marcel Waves, 1920s
African-American beauty styling Marcel Waves, 1920s
Actress Irene Delroy showing dramatic eyebrows.
Actress Irene Delroy showing dramatic eyebrows.
Vienna, Austria - Original caption: 1928 - Josephine Baker getting ready in her dressing room. She is depicted putting on make-up looking into a mirror. Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS
Original caption: Vienna, Austria, 1928 – Josephine Baker getting ready in her dressing room. She is depicted putting on make-up looking into a mirror. Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS
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Silent film actress Raquel Torres using a lip stencil.
Mary Brian / American actress. Photographed c1925. (Found on fineartamerica.com)
Mary Brian / American actress. Photographed c1925. (Found on fineartamerica.com)
At the soda shop, c.1920s
At the soda shop, c.1920s

1920’s Women’s Hairstyles Pt. 3

While white women worked hard to make their hair wavy or curly, many African-American women worked just as hard trying to make their hair straight. Black newspapers and magazines advertised dozens of special pomades, oils, soaps, shampoos, hot irons, and combs that were intended to help relax and straighten curly or kinky hair. Madam C. J. Walker, the nation’s first black woman millionaire, developed a revolutionary system to soften and straighten black women’s hair around the turn of the century, using a combination of special hair preparations and hot irons. (1)

Vintage advertising for Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company’s hair and toilet preparations.
Vintage advertising for Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company’s hair and toilet preparations.

In 1906, she founded the Madame C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company, and later she established a Harlem-based beautician school called the Walker College of Hair Culture, which claimed to teach its hairdressing students how to straighten kinky hair without using curling irons, and promoted a secret formula that supposedly accelerated hair growth. The Walker Manufacturing Company flourished during the 1920s under the leadership of Madame Walker’s daughter, A’Lelia Walker, one of the richest and most extravagant residents of Harlem during the Jazz Age. (1)

Madam C. J. Walker hairstyling demonstration booth, Chicago, 1920s (Madam C. J. Walker Collection, Indiana Historical Society)
Madam C. J. Walker hairstyling demonstration booth, Chicago, 1920s (Madam C. J. Walker Collection, Indiana Historical Society)

Madame C. J. Walker realised not only that the African-American community represented a virtually untapped consumer market, but also that many black women were attracted to products that promised a more “Caucasian” appearance and, by association, the social acceptance unavailable to those with kinky hair and other so-called “African” features. (1)

SOURCES:

(1) The 1920s (American Popular Culture Through History) by Kathleen Drowne and Patrick Huber, 2004

1920’s Women’s Hairstyles Pt. 2

The water wave comb was another implement designed to create wavy hair. Wet hair was set with a series of combs, often made of aluminium or celluloid, which gently pushed the hair into waves. A scarf or ribbon was then wrapped around the head to keep the combs in place until the hair dried into soft waves and the combs would be removed. Women also created “finger waves” by applying “finger waving lotion” to their damp hair, then combing and pinching their short tresses into waves with their fingers. Until the damp waves were completely dry, women protected their efforts with delicate nets made of real human hair. (1)

Fingerwaves, 1920s
Finger waves, 1920s

By the late 1920s, “permanent waves” were also available to women willing to undergo the strong chemical treatments. Although women went to great trouble creating curls and waves in their naturally straight hair, short hair was in general a real time saver. Women with long hair might spend several hours a week brushing, washing, drying, braiding and arranging their elaborate hairstyles, but marcelling short bob only took a few minutes every day. (1)

SOURCES:

(1) The 1920s (American Popular Culture Through History) by Kathleen Drowne and Patrick Huber, 2004

1920’s Women’s Hairstyles Pt. 1

Although popular conceptions of the Jazz Age suggest that every fashionable woman bobbed her hair during the 1920s, some women did keep their hair long. Long-haired women did not customarily wear their hair loose; rather, they pulled it back to the nape of the neck and wound it into a smooth chignon or knot. (1)

Jobyna Ralston, 1920s
Jobyna Ralston, 1920s
Aileen Pringle hairstyle, 1924
Aileen Pringle hairstyle, 1924

Another fashionable style at the beginning of the decade involved coiling long hair into two buns that rested one behind each ear. This hairstyle, known alternately as “earphones” or “cootie garages”, fell out of favour by the mid-1920s. (1)

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Natacha Rambova, fashion and movie set designer. Cootie Garage hairstyle with headwrap.

However, more enduring was the ubiquitous bob, cut short and straight at about chin-length, which dancing sensation Irene Castle introduced in the United States shortly before World War I. When other celebrities such as French fashion designer Coco Chanel and Hollywood star Louise Brooks also adopted this short, blunt haircut, women across the United States followed suit. (1)

Irene Castle by Edward Thayer Monroe
Irene Castle by Edward Thayer Monroe
Louise Brooks, 1920s
Louise Brooks, 1920s

Many women actually had their hair cut by men’s barbers, since some hairdressers, fearing that short, simple hairstyles would put them out of business, simply refused to shear off women’s long tresses. The bob could be worn with or without bangs, and was often accompanied by side curls plastered to the cheek or by a single curl dramatically set in the middle of the forehead. (1)

 Arlette Marchal, 1920s
Arlette Marchal, 1920s

Around 1923, the standard bob haircut began to evolve into different, even shorter styles. The shingle haircut, or “boyish bob”, tapered to a point at the nape of the wearer’s neck and often featured waves or short curls on the sides. (1)

Mary Astor, 1920's
Mary Astor, 1920’s

The even more radical “Eton crop”, which was trimmed above the wearer’s ears and shaved in the back, appeared in 1926. These streamlined haircuts were perfect for tucking underneath a stylish cloche hat so nothing but perhaps a side curl or two was visible. While young women in their late teens and twenties were the first to engage in the bobbed hair craze, by the end of the decade women of all ages were wearing the convenient and versatile bob. (1)

Eton Crop hairstyle, 1920s
Eton Crop hairstyle, 1920s

“Marcel waves”, as they became known, were a tremendously popular feature of the bobbed haircut. In 1872, Marcel Grateau, a French hairstylist, invented a method by which hair could be curled or waved with the use of curling iron heated on a stove until it was nearly scorching hot. By the 1920s, more convenient electric curling irons and crimpers became available, making it even easier for women to “marcel” their hair into deep horizontal waves that were then fashionable. (1)

This picture shows a step-by-step tutorial on how to make the Marcel Waves, 1920s
This picture shows a step-by-step tutorial on how to make the Marcel Waves, 1920s

SOURCES:

(1) The 1920s (American Popular Culture Through History) by Kathleen Drowne and Patrick Huber, 2004

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