Sunday, September 19, 2010

Remembering '60s Hair

I was born in 1961, so I spent my childhood in the 60's. While a lot of younger folk think of the '60s as a time of long hair, parted in the middle, it really wasn't so until the late '60s and even then, usually only teens wore their hair that way.

In truth, up until about 1968, the '60s were still much like the '50s. And of course, our mothers had been teens or young women in the '50s.

At that time, jeans were for play only, and girls and women always wore skirts or dresses when going out. Women did wear slacks around the house, but they didn't wear blue jeans, not ever, unless they worked on a farm.

Most women who were married had shortish hair, and they wouldn't be caught dead with it straight. Back then, there were no blow-dryers, curling irons still hadn't become mainstream, and almost without exception, homemakers wore curlers in their hair all day, every day, until such time as hubby was about to come home for dinner. There was a lot of teasing of hair back then, as well.

I remember well the brush rollers that most of the women wore, and I recall the scent of setting lotion on their rolled hair.

My mother used setting lotion, but I have a recollection of her using flat beer as a setting lotion for a while. It seemed funny to see a spray bottle full of beer in the fridge.

It was a very common sight at the local grocery store or the bank to see a woman with a head full of curlers, covered with a satin scarf, tied babushka style.

If a woman did have longer hair, chances are that it was set into a teased and lacquered updo that lasted a week. Perhaps a bouffant or beehive.

Another popular trend that I recall in the mid to late '60s was the wearing of wigs. Most women had two or three wigs or hairpieces sitting on foam wig-forms. Sometimes, the wig would be a different colour than the woman's own hair, and sometimes women would buy long hairpieces, matching their own hair, called "falls". The falls could be worn long, or styled to create an updo.

"Frosted" hair was popular with young women. Frosted hair is similar but unlike what we today call highlights. It was in fact a type of highlighting, but it ended up making the hair look greyish. I smile just remembering it. I knew a few women who had their hair frosted, but mostly the women I knew had a frosted wig.

Until the late '60s, even teen girls wore curlers, especially for a night out.

And believe it or not, there was no such thing as yet as conditioner, and the shampoos were harsh. So women generally only washed their hair once a week or so. I remember a lot of career women and homemakers making weekly appointments at the hairdresser for a wash and set.

It was quite an innovation when a product called "creme rinse" came out in the very late '60s. That was the first time that there was a product that would detangle hair. Creme rinse was concentrated, and you'd put a capful in water as a final rinse.

I don't think any of us could have imagined the huge changes that were coming our way both in clothing fashion and hair fashion. I wonder if there was ever such a huge change in style in any other decade as there was between the '60s and the '70s

By the time 1974 rolled around, everything was different. We had gentle shampoo and conditioner, and we had blow-dryers. This meant that hair could be washed daily, and it also meant that women could wear new styles that could be cut to be easily blow-dryed into place. Also, curling irons and hot rollers became popular and affordable.

It was an interesting time. I am so happy that I was able to witness it.

'Til tomorrow, my friends. Much love to all.


  1. Very interesting, it also sounds like a lot of work! I indeed thought that in the sixties the ideal hair was long. It did not sound like a nice time for growing long hair, with all the abuse that happened on it!

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. I was a teenager in the 60's, born in 1954. I remember all that stuff. I remember women wearing curlers all day, even sleeping in curlers. I tried that once, didn't work for me. My mom had those brush rollers. They always tangled up in my hair. I hated rolling up my hair and sitting under a dryer. I wanted to let it go natural but mom didn't approve.

  3. Also born in 61. I got in the biggest trouble because I asked my mother who was gray when I was born, why her wig was red? It was really dark auburn which was her natural color - all I remember is gray! Yes mom had the weekly set appt and I remember the cans of aerosol hairspray that was a cloud. Plus her wig was heavy and I'm sure hot. Remember the hair dryer bonets attached to the hose? My hair was thick and long and would take about four hours to dry in curlers. What tomboy girl would sit under a dryer that long. I think mom rolled my hair twice a year and only with me under duress!

  4. I was born in '89, but this was sure interesting to read! I love your writing style, Franny! :)


I love hearing from you.