With the season changing and so many of us thinking of a new look, we take a look back at the 7 most popular hairstyles of the 20th century.

Centuries come and go, trends change, but some things become iconic and find their place in the hearts of future generations. And while some things, like the 50s dresses, stay classy & can make us look and feel royal but are not used as widely as before, some other things – like the 20th century most popular hairstyles – are still an inspiration.

If you want to change your hairstyle, you don’t even have to leave your home. YouTube tutorials can show how to do the hairstyle all by yourself. However, if you’ve decided to cut your hair at home, make sure to get all the help you can. But remember not to use your home scissors – they’ll ruin your hair. Opt for something professional – for example, those classic matte black shears, which you can find both online and in your local hairdressing store.

Remember, you don’t have to wear a sleek bob today. Making something modern out of it is always a viable option. Now, are you ready to find some inspiration and learn more about the iconic looks of the twentieth century? Then read on!

The Bob

7 Most Popular Hairstyles of the 20th Century | The Bob
Actress Louise Brooks popularised the bob hairstyle.

After World War I, the bob hairstyle became popular thanks to Louise Brooks. During the height of the silent era, she was one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, and she wore her hair short, cut to the bottom of the ears.

Thanks to her, the bob became famous all over the world. It was not only about the fashion – this look represented all the women who wanted to move beyond their traditional roles. And it’s still popular now in all kinds of variations when it comes to length, colour, and curls.

Platinum Curls

In the 1930s, the Great Depression came. The only thing that thrived was the cinema. People wanted to run away from reality, and Hollywood offered them a means of escape. During that time, women on the screen were seen as beauty icons all around the world. Consequently, it should come as no surprise that their soft, elegant curls became so popular.

7 Most Popular Hairstyles of the 20th Century | Platinum Curls

There was Jean Harlow, the “Blonde Bombshell” or the “Platinum Blonde,” famous for her blonde hair. And later, Marilyn Monroe came with her glamorous yet girlish iconic look. Thanks to them, platinum curls are still popular today!

The Beehive

Following the golden era of the bouffant hairstyle in the 50s, the beehive became really popular the very next decade. Glamorous and sophisticated yet spicy, this look did resemble the shape of the traditional beehive. Even though it required a lot of maintenance, women loved it.

7 Most Popular Hairstyles of the 20th Century | The Beehive
Brigitte Bardot’s playful take on the beehive in 1964.

The backcombing technique used in the creation of the beehive became a source of inspiration for the next century hairstyles, while the classic beehive is perceived as an enduring symbol of the 60s.

The Afro

When it comes to the African-American community, Afro-textured hair was popular in the 60s and the 70s as a direct result of the civil rights movement. Many African-Americans naturally had afro-textured hair. Because of that, it was the most natural hairstyle they could go for.

7 Most Popular Hairstyles of the 20th Century | The Afro

It is worth mentioning that it did not require extensive braiding or straightening that was so common in decades past. It did require some combing – but nothing more.

Androgynous Style

In the twentieth century, androgynous hairstyles were widely popular. Originating from the sleek bobs, they thrived during the era of liberation. The angular bowl cuts and deep-part pixies were supposed to represent a more laid-back attitude towards life.

Moreover, it was all about comfort. It did not require women to spend hours in front of the mirror, preparing their hair, which was quite liberating. All they needed was a bit of backcombing.

The Feathered Hair

7 Most Popular Hairstyles of the 20th Century | The Feathered Hair
The feathered hairstyle was given superstar status and became a must-have look thanks to Farrah Fawcett.

The feathered hairstyle was one of the most iconic looks of the past century, thanks to Farrah Fawcett. Unlike the layered hair – a style that probably descended from the feathered hair – it allows your hair to look more textured and light. And when you brushed it back at the sides, creating a winged effect, it put a lot of emphasis on your face.

The Perm

7 Most Popular Hairstyles of the 20th Century | The Feathered Hair

If you asked us to summarise the 80s in one word, we would say perm. Thanks to the number of famous musicians that wore it, it was all about the big hair both for men and women.

Getting a perm meant having your hair chemically curled, which resulted in big, soft curls that could be sprayed or teased to look more voluminous.

To Sum Up

The twentieth century was not only the golden age of fashion and cinema – it was also a liberating era of iconic hairstyles. As the cultures and traditions evolved, the hairstyles changed.

Looking back, you can find so many different hairstyles that have their origins in that century. Liberating short cuts, soft golden waves, extravagant beehives, and natural afros – that is what the past century was all about.

But why does it matter? These iconic looks influenced almost every hair trend that is popular today. And even though you probably will not go for the 80s perm, it can still serve as a source of inspiration if you want to create something completely new!

Brigitte Bardot, Farrah Fawcett, hair, history, Hollywood, Jean Harlow, Louise Brooks, Marilyn Monroe, movies, the great depression, World War I


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