I am endlessly flattered by the sweet comments that I get on my hair, and especially by requests for tutorials! I’m not a stylist or even a hair expert, but I have been doing a vintage-inspired set every day for…close to three years now, I think? Dang! So I’m happy to share my tips and tricks for how I do my everyday set. I hope this helps set you on the right path to the curls of your dreams! Follow the jump for a bunch of uncomfortably close-up photos of my face.
I wash and set my hair once a week, usually on Sundays. Depending on when I shower, my hair is either dry or slightly damp when I start setting my hair. I prefer this to a full wet set since I feel like I have better control of how much setting lotion I’m using, but if your hair doesn’t like to hold a curl, you might get better results starting from wet hair – just make sure you leave plenty of time for it to dry! Before the set, I apply a small amount of Suavecita Argan Silkening Serum, which smells AMAZING, to my hair, concentrating on the ends.
I use Wrap, Snap & Go rollers, which I kind of happened upon by chance. My mom had bought the set from the drugstore a long time ago and gave it to me when I told her I was thinking about curling my hair; I’ve had good results and been happy with them! I’m a very light sleeper, so it helps a lot to be able to sleep on something a little softer than your standard foam roller. Since I attended Miss Ruby’s Beauty School, I’ve been experimenting with the Kenra Hot Spray I got in my class goodie bag as a setting spray – I haven’t decided yet whether I like that better than the Suavecita Grooming Spray that I have been using. Both are good and should work to help your curl set! Using a setting spray is really crucial to getting curls that are going to have that vintage resilience that lets them last and last.
Time to start rolling! This is something that gets so much easier with time and practice, I promise. I used to despair over rollers, and now it’s practically second nature. My hair is cut into a long-ish middy with a deep side part, so I make sure my hair properly parted, then start by sectioning off a front “bang” area, then continue with the top layer of the hair. I set the roller about 2-3 inches up in my hair, wrap the end around the roller, then tuck the ends of my hair in place as I then start rolling the rest of the way.
I roll all of my curls down, nice and simple. I generally use all twelve of my rollers (one for the bangs, four on each side in an approximate square, and three in the back), though sometimes I section my hair slightly differently and end up doing a couple pin curls at the bottom if I run out. No big deal!
I used to have a nice scarf that I wrapped my hair in, but it got all messed up, so these days I throw a super soft t-shirt on over my hair to protect it from rubbing up against the pillow or getting tugged out while I sleep. See you in the morning!
Ah, a new day!
In the morning, I take down my curls and start by gently breaking up the curls, running my fingers through my hair lightly to start it blending together. Then it’s brushing time!
There’s a lot of joking in vintage hair circles that if you start to panic, just keep brushing. It’s super true…your hair can get WILD and poofy, and it seems like more brushing is just going to make it worse, but trust in the brush out! Sometimes, if my hair really doesn’t seem to want to calm down, I take a break from brushing to do my makeup/finish getting ready, and go after it again after it’s had some time to relax a little more. I would highly recommend watching a video tutorial of a brushout to get a more solid idea of what the motion is like – click here for my favorite vintage hair Youtubers! The best way I can describe it is that you aren’t really brushing straight through the hair like you might be used to; you’re using your brush and your hand to shape & arrange your hair. Don’t be afraid to really get handsy with it – I use my hands just as much as my brush to shape, arrange, and fluff my hair until I get it about where I want it. My hair is very fine and doesn’t do well with heavy pomades; I have been experimenting with the Kenra from my goodie bag, but most sets, I just leave it be and give it a light misting of hair spray once I have it how I like it.
Then I snap my fingers, and TA-DA! I’m ready for another magical day of being a funky retro lady.
A lot of ladies are lucky enough to be able to just loosely pile their hair back on their head and maybe put a scarf on and have their curls last. Unfortunately, I am the Worst Sleeper. I’m super active so I tend to roll around a lot (and rub my head against things…), and no curl protection method has worked for me. So I do re-roll my set every night. It honestly sounds like more work than it is; I don’t use any additional product, just give my hair a quick brush through before bed to smooth out any of the day’s frizz, and it goes very easily back onto the rollers. I’m used to it now; I like to listen to a podcast while I do it, so it’s a nice wind-down “me time” before I head to bed at the end of the day.
Using this method, I’m generally able to make a set last for pretty much the full week. It definitely can start to get a bit droopy by the end (I use a bit of dry shampoo about halfway through to help give it back a little OOMPH), but all told, it’s a pretty simple routine that gives me great results.
Phew. That’s a lot of text, I know, but I hope that it was helpful! I know that this can seem super daunting, and it is hard at first. You’re going to have days when you’re first experimenting and figuring out what works best for your hair when your set just turns out like crap. I still have days where for some reason my set turns out like crap, and I can’t get my hair to do anything I want it to do! Just take a deep breath, pull it back/put it up, and try again next time.
I have another post about maintaining colorful hair if you have crazy hair! If there are other questions you have about what I do with my hair or how I style it, please do let me know. I’m happy to help anyway that I can!