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How To: Retro-Inspired Hair To Try Now

A step-by-step guide to mastering three retro styles at home.
  • How To: Retro-Inspired Hair To Try Now
    Start Slideshow
    18 slides
    Photo: Chris Patey
  • Wet Hair
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    Photo: Chris Patey

    If you’re starting with freshly-washed hair follow Chamberlain’s lead and add in a cocktail of body-boosting products: Bumble and bumble’s Thickening Spray ($28) at your roots and Oribe’s Gel Serum ($58) on the bottom half of your hair.

  • Blow Out
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    Photo: Chris Patey

    Retro hair requires volume, so start by drying the sections on your crown with a round brush and set with velcro rollers while they’re still warm. “When choosing a roller size, remember that large ones create volume, while the smaller ones add more curl and texture,” Chamberlain says. Blow out the rest of your hair with a paddle brush, swapping in a boar-bristle brush to smooth your ends. Try Aveda’s Wooden Paddle Brush ($20), Sonia Kashuk’s Hair Brush ($16), and Conair’s 31-Pack Velcro Rollers ($9)—the set has numerous sizes.

  • Step 1: ‘40s
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    Photo: Chris Patey
    Step 1: ‘40s

    Leave the rollers on your crown, run a dollop of styling cream through your locks, and make a side part. Chamberlain likes Oribe’s Crème for Style ($35), or try Pantene Pro-V’s Ultimate 10 BB Cream ($7). If you’re working on day-two hair, roll the top section of your tresses back with a Velcro roller, pin into place, and blast with a dryer while you make your twists.

  • Step 2: ‘40s
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    Photo: Chris Patey
    Step 2: ‘40s

    “Start your first twist along your hairline, then continue to add small sections as you go down to the nape of your neck,” Chamberlain says. Use bobby pins to secure the end of the twist, adding pins through the entire side for extra hold. Mirror on the opposite side so you have two twists that meet at the base of your neck.

  • Step 3: ’40s
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    Photo: Chris Patey
    Step 3: ’40s

    Remove the velcro roller and twist the front section away from your face, loosely tucking into whichever twist you prefer. Secure with bobby pins. The goal is to create a lived-in look with the front section, not a tight twist.

  • Step 4: ‘40s
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    Photo: Chris Patey
    Step 4: ‘40s

    “Gently loosen the twists with your hands and pull out a few random pieces for an undone, modern look,” Chamberlain says. To secure the back, tuck the ends of your hair under the base of one of the twists. This is the only area you do want to be tight, so add extra bobby pins until it feels secure. Set with hairspray.

  • Final Image: ‘40s
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    Photo: Chris Patey
  • Step 1: ‘50s
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    Photo: Chris Patey
    Step 1: ‘50s

    Repeat the blowout from slides one and two. “Set the front section of your hair using a 1 ¼-inch velcro roller,” Chamberlain says. “This gives the foundation of the shape you're trying to create.” (If working on day-two hair, add a roller and blow-dry for a few seconds on low to create the shape.)

  • Step 2: ‘50s
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    Photo: Chris Patey
    Step 2: ‘50s

    Once cool, gently remove the roller and let the hair fall to the side while you work on the next area. “Take a section of hair two inches back from the hairline and braid it away from your scalp, leaving an inch or two loose at your ends,” Chamberlain says. Spray the ends of your braid with hairspray and tease with a fine-toothed comb. “This secures the braid and adds texture to the hair,” he says. Repeat on the section directly behind your first braid.

  • Step 3: ‘50s
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    Photo: Chris Patey
    Step 3: ‘50s

    “Rake the braids and front section back, pinning into place, then loosen the front to keep the volume that you created earlier,” Chamberlain says. “It shouldn’t be perfect.”

  • Step 4: ‘50s
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    Photo: Chris Patey
    Step 4: ‘50s

    “Once the top is secure, run a generous amount of Oribe’s Sculpting Cream ($28) through the sides of your hair using your fingers,” Chamberlain says. Imperfections makes it modern! Set with strong-hold hairspray.

  • Final Image: ‘50s
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    Photo: Chris Patey
  • Step 1: ‘60s
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    Photo: Chris Patey
    Step 1: ‘60s

    “During your blowout set small sections on your crown using large velcro rollers,” Chamberlain says, leaving the front section loose. Allow to cool while you work on the next step—the more volume the better!

  • Step 2: ‘60s
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    Photo: Chris Patey
    Step 2: ‘60s

    “Make a center part, then take a one-inch curling iron and put some bends in the front sections,” Chamberlan says. “The goal is to add shape around the face.” Set with hairspray.

  • Step 3: ‘60s
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    Photo: Chris Patey
    Step 3: ‘60s

    “Remove the rollers and take a triangle section from the crown area,” Chamberlan says. “Starting at the front and taking thin slices, spray and tease the root of small sections of your hair.” Once you have the height and texture you want, lightly coat your hands with Bumble and bumble’s Texture (un)Dressing Cream ($28) and comb the hair on the crown back with your hands. Use Sachajuan’s Ocean Mist ($28) for extra texture.

  • Step 4: ‘60s
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    Photo: Chris Patey
    Step 4: ‘60s

    Gently rake all of your hair into a low ponytail, but make sure you keep the center part intact and “make sure not to flatten the top out during this step,” Chamberlain says. Loosely secure with an elastic.

  • Step 5: ‘60s
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    Photo: Chris Patey
    Step 5: ‘60s

    “Loosen the ponytail and pull out a few piece for texture,” Chamberlain says. “Then spray with more hairspray.” (You can pin the side pieces in place if they’re short.)

  • Final Look ‘60s
    Next Slideshow
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    Photo: Chris Patey

Craving a throw-back look? We enlisted hairstylist Luke Chamberlain (he’s worked with Kate Bosworth, Agyness Deyn, and Kate Upton) to turn retro hairstyles—a romantic ‘40s twist, a cool ‘50s pompadour, and a ‘60s Bardot ponytail—current. The secret? Plenty of texture! Pick an era and click through to see how to get the look—without looking like you’re playing dress up.

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