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Blog // Wet set and go - my experiments with 60s hair styles

Mary Weiss

When I was teenager I mostly wanted to have the hair style of Mary Weiss from the Shangri-las, but I could never pull it off because my hairline/shape just wouldn't allow it.

I was also interested in having a beehive or bouffant style, but in those pre-youtube days I had literally no idea how these styles were achieved. Was is wigs? I thought, was it all down to the hairspray/products? was there some special way of cutting hair into those shapes? I would go to the hair dressers and say, could you cut it to make this shape (gesturing with my hands) a bit like Jean Shrimpton. And they would smile and nod and I would leave the salon with shinny ironed flat hair like everyone else. Still to this day I haven't met a hairdresser who has understood how to style hair the way I was describing.

After years of this, and years of searching online, I found some vintage hair setting instructions a bit like this:

My mind boggled! I couldn't understand how rolling hair in complicated formations (like in the diagrams) could possibly result in anything like the picture. Surely it would just generally go curly from the rollers in no particular shape? and any road, I'd never used rollers before and I had no idea how to put them in, how long to leave them in, if my hair should be wet to start with, if I should blow dry them in, if I needed a retro hood dryer to sit under etc etc.... I made a few half hearted attempts and failed miserably.

In 2009 I had the misfortune to lose a lot of hair due to post-traumatic stress after receiving surgery for a brain tumour. Because my hair was so thin, I decided to get it cut a fair bit shorter than normal and I asked the hairdresser to show me how to tease/backcomb my hair to give it volume. She also used a hairdryer and round brush to make the ends flip upwards. The overall result was a little way towards the hair style I actually wanted (picture right).

The problem was, the overall shape wasn't 100% there and the flips at the ends were not strong enough. When I styled using this method the flips would droop back an hour or two later.

A year or two later I found some tutorials on youtube which used a method involving 'pin curls' instead of rollers. The basic idea is, you roll your hair damp into flat circles and pin to your head with kirby grips and sleep like that over night. You then unravel them and you get ringlet-y curly hair. You then have to brush out the curls and back comb the top. The result is the hair style I always dreamed of! Here is the tutorial I go by:

I find this method works best, and whilst I have tried hot rollers and tongs, I find only overnight wet setting gives me a style that lasts all day. Here are some of the results I've had over the years using this technique (excuse the bad quality, I don't have (or plan to have) an instagram boyfriend!) :

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