Tuesday, June 24, 2014

༺ Pin Curls 101: The Curl Brush Out & Styling ༻

And we are back with our Pin Curls 101 series! First we looked at the Basics of Pin Curls and how to do them.  Today we are reviewing the final stages of a wet set; the all-important brush out, and the art of styling your pin curls.

A major component for a successful wet set is the brush out. Half of the success of your finished style lies in what type of brush you use, the other half in the technique you use while brushing. In this particular post, I’ll be addressing the technique, rather than the brushes themselves as we will cover those in The Tools of a Vintage Look. So let’s get started!

Careful brushing for a perfect pin curl style - Pin Curls 101 | Lavender & Twill 

How to brush out Pin Curls:

The Wrong Way

Wrong way to brush out - Pin Curls 101 | Lavender & Twill 

You can see the bristles of the brush are rolling out away from the head, while the brush is stroking from front to back. This pulls the hair away from the head, resulting in loose, uncontrolled, frizzy curls. The end curl is also often not brushed through thoroughly, resulting in more frizz and mess. It is harder to create a clean style with this brush out technique.

The Right Way


Here the bristles are turned into the head as the brush strokes from front to back. You can see the brush is flat against the head, rolling slightly with the back of the brush leaning away from the face. This ensures the bristle brush all the way to the ends, resulting in smoother curls as they are more controlled and sculpted. Less time is needed to finish the brush out and a better style is achieved.


Trio of vintage beauties perfecting their hair - Pin Curls 101 | Lavender & Twill 

Essential Tips for the Best Brush Out:

  • Dry Hair 
    Make sure hair is completely dry. DO NOT brush out wet or damp hair, as doing so will not only destroy your pin curls by pulling them out of shape, but it can also cause potential damage to the hair shaft itself. If you are short on time, use a hair dryer to speed the drying process up, or rearrange the curls into an updo. You can also cover them up with a turban-styled scarf, or a pretty cap.

  • Use a brush
    Do not use a comb unless it’s for styling a flick after the brush out, or to arrange or deepen waves. Cheap plastic combs tend to create static and frizz ~ and frizz is the enemy! If you must use a comb, try to find one with wide gaps between the teeth.

  • Keep brushing!
    When you first take your pin curls down, your hair will look super curly and crazy, and after you finger comb through the curls it might look even worse. Start your brush and do not freak out when you look like you have an afro! The more you brush, the more your curls will fall into nice sleek waves. Brushing disturbs the set temporarily, but will not affect the strength of the curl if the setting was done correctly.

  • Use backcombing
    Backcombing blends the hair together nicely, helps shape the hairdo into smooth lines, and adds height, ‘pouf’, and volume, particularly at the crown {the top of the head}. To backcomb the hair, you hold the hair up and out from the scalp, combing underneath towards the scalp with a ruffling motion. Putting the hair back in place, you carefully smooth the top layer over without ruining the backcombing.

  • Handle hair gently
    Light bushing motions and no tugging! Try to ease the brush through the curls to maintain smoothness and shape. Use your hand to control the frizz by brushing the curls out against the palm of your hand, and gently arranging the curls with your fingers.

  • Use a flexible, brushable, strong hold hairspray
    This way you can touch up repeatedly without damaging your hair or your pin curl set. Cheap hair spray can cause the curls to be too stiff, and can dry your hair out. Plus, your curls will loose their bounce and swinging movement, which is not nice for a vintage style.


1940's rolled up-do with middle part - Pin Curls 101 | Lavender & Twill


Styling Your Pin Curls:

The easiest way to style your pin curls is to simply brush out the curls, creating a deep side part on whichever side of your face you prefer, arranging the curls so that they fall in a pleasing manner ~ à la the ever glamorous Lauren Bacall. You can apply a light application of pomade or a flexible, strong hair spray to ensure your style will hold.

Lauren Bacall's simple 1940's hair style - Pin Curls 101 | Lavender & Twill

Note how her side part lines up with the arch of her brow. If you follow the same parting pattern this little trick will help you to achieve that authentic 1940’s look.

Another simple, yet perfectly elegant style is to pin back the hair from the front of your crown, as little or as much as you need, as shown below. Again, apply just enough product to ensure a sleek hairdo for the whole day, but not too much or you will weigh your curls down and they will loose their bounce.

Elegant, yet simple 1940's style - Pin Curls 101 | Lavender & Twill

You can also pin or use combs to pull back the sides of your hair;

1940's side pinned style

or sweep across your front crown hair and pin, as seen below.

Bette Davis' easy 1940's hairstyle - Pin Curls 101 | Lavender & Twill

As you can see in the examples above, this is where it becomes quite crucial to end up with a successful pin curl set, particularly if you are after a sleek curl.  By themselves, pin curls are such a pretty, elegant hairdo that you can easily have a simple, yet effective arrangement.  

There are, of course, myriads of more complex styles you can achieve with a pin curl base ~

Victory Rolls:
1940's Victory Roll hairdo - Pin Curls 101 | Lavender & Twill

The popular half up & half down style to make the most of your curls:

1940's curled half up & half down style - Pin Curls 101 | Lavender & Twill 
A feminine pompadour with a low pony tail:

1940's Pompadour hair style - Pin Curls 101 | Lavender & Twill

A soft chignon complemented with a gently curling fringe:

1940's Chignon hair style - Pin Curls 101 | Lavender & Twill

A Betty Grable updo:

1940's Betty Grable bangs - Pin Curls 101 | Lavender & Twill

or for that matter, a Lucille Ball look straight from I Love Lucy’s iconic style!

1940's Lucille Ball's hair style - Pin Curls 101 | Lavender & Twill

Just be aware that these more complex hairstyles will often require particular setting patterns in order to achieve the final look, and while some setting patterns can be found online, others are not so easy to get a hold of. I shall round up as many setting patterns as I can further along in the series, but I can really recommend getting hold of some hair styling books specific to vintage styling if you really crave a variety of pin curl hairdos.

But that’s us for now! Coming up next in our series, we’ll be taking a look at all the different kinds of tools you can use for creating the perfect pin curl ‘do.  It can range from a simple rats tail comb, to specific implements invented just to help you curl your hair. I’m looking forwards to it ~ are you?



༺ ♡ ༻

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  1. I seriously look forward to these hair tutorial/information posts from you. I actually bought some rollers to try out pin curls today! So thanks for keeping me informed.

    1. Oh yay! I'm so glad that you are enjoying them. You're totally welcome, and good luck with those pin curls. ♡

  2. Some incredible advice here. I've been setting for ages, but you've taught me plenty. Looking forward to your next post!

    1. Thank you Randi, it's been a long time coming together, but I'm glad this information is now all in one spot. I hope it's helpful for everyone!

  3. Excellent advice! I love how you stressed the importance of continuing to keep brushing - I've long thought of that particular point as a bit like the air equivalent of making whipped cream with a beater, at first it seems like nothing is happening how you want it to and boom, you've got lush whipped cream or in this case, an elegantly brushed out curl set.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. Haha; perfect example Jessica! It IS a bit like whipping cream. :D Now I'm thinking about scones and jam and cream.... Mmm...

  4. I love that you're doing this series! For me it was a lot of trial and error when it came to pin curling lol. The biggest lesson I learned was that I could not do wet sets with my hair type. It's something I should have already realized since my hair is curly/wavy when it's wet haha. So when I do pin curls I have to dry and flat iron my hair first and then put the pin curls in. It's a lot of work but it's so worth it when I get that smooth and sleek finish. But one thing that is the same is the loooong brushing out phase haha. :)

    1. Gosh! That does sound like a lot of work, and tricky to figure out. I was also going to cover pin curls with curly hair in this series, 'coz it is somewhat harder to manage. My curly hair will hold a wet set, though perhaps not *quite* how it's supposed to!



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