The pin curl hairstyle became popular in the 1930s. Since modern-day hairstyle products and tools weren’t widely available, women of this era used the pin curl as a natural way to curl their hair overnight. These styles remained popular throughout the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s. Women of the 1940s used the pin curl as a starting point for many different types of hairstyles.


As a response to the straight, short and boyish flapper styles of the 1920s, girls and women of the 1930s emphasized long, feminine locks and curls. Actress Mae West was one of the most famous women of this era who helped popularize pin curl hairstyles. Hairstyles of the 1940s used the pin curl as a beginning step in achieving an updo or soft, long waves.

Creating Pin Curls

Pin curls are made by winding pieces of hair into loops, then pinning them to the head. Women of the 1940s would wash their hair and allow it to dry until it was slightly damp. They would then divide their hair into small sections. Each section or strand would then be wrapped into a loop all the way up to the scalp. The strand would then be pinned to the scalp with two bobby pins forming an X. Women would then wrap their hair in a silk scarf and sleep on the curls overnight to set them.

Loose Pin Curl Hairstyles

Once the pin curls have dried, the bobby pins can be removed and the process of styling begins. Unlike the looser finger wave, which was also popular during this era, pin curls are tight and bouncy and generally retain their shape until the next washing. Women of the 1940s wore their pin curls in many styles, including allowing the curls to hang down loosely or pinning their bangs up in a poof fashion. Loose pin curls could also be accessorized with a headscarf, headband or hat.

Updo Pin Curl Hairstyles

Pin curls were also worn pinned back and up during the 1940s. This was especially common for older or married women. Women with shorter hair would pin back most of the front portion of their hair, allowing the pin-curled bangs and back portion to hang loose. One of the most popular updos of the 1940s was the “Victory Roll,” which took the front and bang portions of pin-curled hair and pulled them loosely back, creating a wave look in the front. Pin-curled hair could also be pulled entirely back, with small pin-curled tendrils pressed against the face in the front.