Waved Hair

Women adopted more feminine hairstyles between 1930 and 1945, growing out the boyish, short styles that had been popular in the previous decade. Though their hair was longer during this period, especially throughout the 1930s, women still wore what would be considered short hair; their styles were just softer and less severe than they had been during the 1920s. To soften their look, women waved their hair. They created waves at home by wrapping their damp hair around cloth strips, their fingers, or by securing their damp curls with bobby pins until they dried. Fake curls could be pinned to the head and were especially popular to wear with hats to accent the temples or in back of the head to make the hair look longer. At salons women could permanently wave their hair or get a wave made with a heated iron and held in place with Macassar oil (made from the seeds of a plant from the district of Macassar in eastern Indonesia) that would last nearly a week.

Men also wore wavy hair at this time. While women created unnatural waves and curls all over their head, men's waves were made to look more natural. Any natural wave in a man's hair was often created by running the fingers through the hair. This created more body, or wave, in the hair instead of being plastered down as it had been in the previous decade. If a man had naturally straight hair he might go to a hairdresser or barber for help, but he would probably not admit to this if asked, because it was not considered appropriate for men to get permanent waves at this time. However, straight hair was almost never seen on either men or women during this period.


Corson, Richard. Fashions in Hair: The First Five Thousand Years. London, England: Peter Owen, 2001.

Trasko, Mary. Daring Do's: A History of Extraordinary Hair. New York: Flammarion, 1994.

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