Duck Tail Hairstyles

By Rhonda McDowell

A lot of names have been given to this hairstyle that was popular in the 1950s. The so-called ducktail is achieved by greasing and combing back the hair around the side of the head to create a ridge somewhere below the crown. The term ducktail was used because the ridge resembles the tail of a duck. The front of the hair is usually curled or done messy on the wearer's forehead.

Use a flexible hold styling gel to achieve the look without making the hair stiff.

Tony Curtis Ducktails

The ducktail hairstyle was first attributed in the 1950s to movie heartthrob Tony Curtis. His distinctive hairstyle caught the attention not just of fan girls but also up-and-coming rock 'n' roll acts such as Elvis Presley.

To achieve the Tony Curtis ducktail, the hair must be grown long enough for the hair from the two sides meet at the middle of the crown. Hair oil or styling gel is used to hold the hair in place.

Elvis Presley Ducktails

Elvis Presley turned the ducktail into a rebellious hairstyling concept. At the time, the ducktail was not the top haircut choice--military style flattops were. Ducktails were often worn by non-conformists, becoming the choice of the so-called greaser subculture. Conservative parents would scold teenage sons for wearing the hairstyle because they associated it with Elvis' music genre, which they considered the devil's music.

Unlike Tony Curtis, Elvis used hair grease, such as Brylcreem or Vasoline, instead of styling gel to keep the hairstyle in place, thus, the term "greaser." With the extra holding power, greasers sculpted their hair to look like duck tails.

John Travolta Ducktails

Ducktails experienced a revival in the late 1970s through the musical "Grease." John Travolta played Danny Zuko, the hair-obsessed teenage lead character in this coming of age musical about the 1950s. Travolta's version of the ducktail featured a greased back and sideburns. To complete the greaser look, those who wear ducktails inspired by the movie sported white T-shirts under black leather jackets, tight jeans and black boots.