The 1960s began with the highly formal up-sweep big hair styles from the late 1950s, but as the women’s movement, protest groups and hippies got into full swing toward the end of that decade, hair styles reflected the changes and became more casual and easier to maintain.
Formal Women’s Styles
The bouffant, or bubble, a formal big-hair up-style popular in the 1960s, was basically just hair arranged high on the head with tendrils falling down the sides. This style created an illusion of a longer, smaller face.
The high-towering beehive, also known as the B-52 for its similarity to the shape of the nose on a B-52 Stratofortress bomber, lasted until the end of the ’60s. This predominantly American hairstyle, created by Margaret Vinci Heldt in 1960 at the request of a magazine to create something “different,” emerged from the earlier bouffant and page-boy styles of the 1950s.
Another less formal hairdo of the 1960s, the bob, was popular in the 1920s and never actually went out of style. It came in many hair lengths. This straight hair style, parted in the middle, laid smoothly down the back of the head with each layer cut longer than the one under it culminates in the hair turning under.
The “flip” came into vogue in the late 1960s when the larger, fluffy hairstyles began to wane. Mary Tyler Moore on the Dick Van Dyke Show, so popular in that decade, wore her hair in her signature flip. This easy-to-shape style reached popularity due to its ageless appeal and suitability to women of all ages.
Back-combing or teasing, required for big “fluffy” hairstyles such as the bouffant and beehive, was done by holding sections of the hair and running the comb from the tip of the hair back toward the scalp in short, quick motions causing the hair to bush out and mat.
Flat iron was a technique where girls wanting straight hair ironed their locks using a regular iron and ironing board or a specially made hand-held flat iron.
Hair rollers, often the size of soda cans, provided the bounce and fluff needed for the big hairdos such as the bouffant and beehive. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, before the invention of the portable hairdryer, many young women spent the night propped up on neck pillows in order to support the large rollers.
That ultra-long, straight “hippie” hairstyle, with or without those saw-toothed Batman bangs, was popularized by Cher on the Sonny and Cher television show. As an alternative to the long hair hung loosely down the back, long straight hair could be swept back tightly at the crown. This style, however, could only be worn by young women.
Short, cropped hair became the rage when young 17-year-old model Leslie Hornby, better known as Twiggy, hit the runway. For this style, the hair was cut extremely short and combed flat over to one side. Being blond was “in” vogue with this particular cut.
The rise of Vidal Sassoon brought a cut that followed the shape of the head and fell neatly into place. This style introduced the asymmetric, geometric, five-point hairstyle born from the classic bob.
References and ResourcesHairdo Hairstyles: 1960s Elegant and Graceful Hairstyles
Fifties Web: Sixties Fashions
Hair Finder: 1960s Hairstyles
Girlhood in America: An Encyclopedia, Volume 1
Fashion Hairstyles: 1960's Hairstyles and Haircuts
Beauty and the Bath: Flip Hairstyle Late 1960s