Necessary Tools for Great Vintage Hair

Hi dolls!

Today I decided to do a post on the necessary tools and tricks for achieving great vintage hair. I have learned a lot over the years, and take very good care of my hair. And in my time of doing vintage hair, I have found a few tools to be necessary in order to get the look you desire.

Hot Rollers

Hot rollers are great at getting a lose and gorgeous curl in your hair, like Rita Hayworth or Veronica Lake. It also helps at molding your hair to do easy and defined victory rolls, bumper bangs, and the like. Make sure to buy a good set though! Read the reviews before you buy. I have a set by Hot Tools Professional that have been great so far. But before you take them out, make sure they are completely cool first! And I usually blow my hair dry beforehand using a curling mousse to help define and enhance the curl more.

Hair Dryer

I think this is a pretty obvious one 🙂 To be used to both hot and cold sets prior to rolling. I consider ionic dryers to be the best, as they add shine to your hair and don’t cause as much heat damage.

Curl Enhancing Mousse

This helps as a great base to start any of your styles. Apply to wet hair and blow dry, and you are ready to begin styling! Tresemmé has great mousse.

Heat Protecting Spray

This will protect your hair from heat damage, and as we all know, heat is probably the worst thing for your hair. I use Tresemmé’s spray, which can be found in drug stores for about $6. I take sections of my hair, spray some of it on, finger comb it through a bit, then roll my hair.

Cold Set Rollers

This is the single most important thing to getting an authentic vintage look. I have been using sponse/foam rollers, but soon I will be making my own pillow rollers, which I prefer. You rarely roll to what is called “on base” (all the way to the scalp), unless told to do so. Most of the time you roll to about ear level in order to achieve the look where the crown is flat. Women did this so that they could wear hats without fudging up their hair. Going out with a hat was seen as a necessity!

Setting Lotion

This is something you will need to use in order to do your cold sets. It will help to hold the curl and keep its shape. I prefer to use Lottabody Professional Setting Lotion. Please see my tutorial on how to do a cold set for thorough directions on how to use it to set your hair.

Scarf/Hair Cap

This is in order to keep your curlers in the right places when you are doing other things you need to do or are sleeping. It protects the hair also when you are out on a windy day, it’s raining, or you just want a little vintage glamour mystery 🙂

Rat Tail Comb

This is great for dividing your hair into sections to roll or style, as well as tease and do finishing touches on your style. Super helpful!

Plastic Bristle Brush

This is perfect for combing out your curls into a great vintage set. You may need to brush for a little bit in order to defrizz enough. It’s also great for shaping your curls by brushing against your hand.

Bobby Pins

This is an absolute must to hold your styles in place! For most shapes and styles you will need to use at least a few bobby pins. But also be cautious – some bobby pins do not hold as well as others! I have found Goody to have decent pins.


Of course this is a no brainer! It helps to hold your hair where it needs to be held, and can work well at prepping your hair as well.

Hair Rat

This will be needed to create bumper bangs and many styles of the like. Get one as close to your own hair colour as you can. I have a black hair rat, and it works very well. You can find them for pretty cheap on Amazon.


Layrite is an amazing pomade that I use consistently. It holds your hair without looking greasy and leaves a wonderful shine. Smells amazing too! All us rockabilly/vintage/retro people use it, it is very well known. Definitely worth the investment! Click on the banner on the sidebar to check it out and see more great products from Hawleywood’s.


These are the basics that I can think of to list to start off your vintage styling correctly. Of course you can accessorize with snoods, hair flowers, bandanas, scarves, hair combs, and things of the like. Check out some classic movies and think of how the hair might have been styled, and try to recreate it. It may take some time to really get the hang of it like I did, but once you do it will be very natural to you.

Just remember – practice, practice, practice!

4 comments on “Necessary Tools for Great Vintage Hair

  1. Bunny Moreno says:

    I just love this list! Its great to know what tools you really need! Theres quite a few things I still need to get but little by little!!! Great post!!! xox

    • Thanks! I’m trying to write more informative posts to help people, rather than the majority of posts being about what I wore that day, although sometimes that may pop up LOL. Glad it could help! If you have any requests for me to write about, let me know 🙂

  2. Bonita says:

    ~ * ♥ * ~

    Fantastic hair tips ~ I had a light bulb moment reading the one about the cold rollers ~ of course you don’t roll them all the way to the base of your hair. D’oh! I shall so have to try setting my hair again. To tell the truth, I was getting rather discouraged with it and mostly did it up to look vintage, but I was avoiding the hair setting. Thanks to you, I think I am on the right path again. So thank you very much! : D

    bonita of Depict This!
    ~ * ♥ * ~

    • Hi Bonita! I am so glad I could help you out with working out the cold sets. I know they can be a bit of a drudge, but it is a necessary evil in order to achieve the authentic vintage look. Definitely keep the rollers at ear level to get the look you want. Keep trying – it was discouraging for me at first, but you get the hang of it after some trial and error. If you have any questions or any requests for post topics, please do not hesitate to let me know 🙂

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