If you ask us, there’s something extra special about donning retro hairstyles. They serve up the right amount of nostalgia (even if you’re too young to have lived through that time period the first time around) and allow you to take a stylish break from the hairstyle trends of the moment. While there are plenty of decades known to bring the heat on the hair front, including the ’80s, 1940s hairstyles are the ones we’re excited to see getting major attention right now. With a myriad of voluminous looks and curly ‘dos among the best ‘40s hair looks, it’s no surprise that so many people want to bring 1940s hair to life. Follow along as we dive into the 13 best 1940s women’s hairstyles, all of which deserve a spot on your must-try list!
Can’t resist a bouncy and flowy hairstyle? It’s time to get acquainted with the pageboy ‘do. This look is all about flaunting smooth strands that are curled underneath. Typically suited to medium and long lengths, this style is perfect for those who love face-framing hairstyles. Simply use a curling iron to give your straight strands a chic curl at the ends to get the look.
2. THE VICTORY ROLL
If there is one hairstyle that has made a lasting impression and probably comes to mind when you think of ‘40s hair, the victory roll reigns supreme. Featuring the front of the hair rolled upward and pinned into place, this style was often paired with lustrous curls or a sleek updo. From movie stars to the everyday working woman, this style was a major hit. Feel free to follow the trend exactly as it used to be worn or create a half-up variation to suit your needs.
3. PIN CURLS
Fancy a mane that serves up old Hollywood glam? Pin curls won’t steer you wrong. Known as one of the most notable 1940s hairstyles, this look consists of pinned-up sections of hair shaped into little curls. We also dig that it doubles as a heatless option to score defined curls.
To get the look, create sections on damp hair that are about an inch in size. Take the end of one of the sections, tuck your hair around two of your fingers, and roll up until you reach the roots. Secure with a bobby pin. Repeat until you have a head full of pin curls.
4. ROLLS WITH LONG HAIR
Those with super long hair were known for sporting hair rolls. A chic way to keep hair away from the face, this style also works in your favor to show off your texture. Versatile in nature, it can complement almost any occasion on your agenda.
Split your hair into two even sections and clip the bottom half out of the way. Divide the section into two even parts and clip one side up. Create a pin curl and position the roll at the center of your head. Repeat on the other side. Once complete, unravel your bottom section, and your look is complete.
Another 1940s hair look we can’t get enough of? Pompadours! That’s right, the voluminous ‘do is a retro hairstyle that continues to stand the test of time. Featuring a large reverse roll that sits high on your head, this look is all about playing with height and adding a bit of sass to your style.
Starting with damp hair, apply a curl mousse, like the L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle CURVE IT Elastic Curl Mousse to your strands, scrunch, and let air dry. Once your hair is fully dry, part your hair into two even sections, making sure that the top half is a bit smaller than the bottom. Clip the bottom section away. Gather your strands and backcomb your hair to amp up the volume. Pin your hair in place to keep the volumized strands in place. Release the bottom section of your hair and fluff your curls.
6. VOLUMINOUS CURLS
In case you haven’t noticed, ‘40s hair was all about curls and volume. With that being said, you can never go wrong with voluminous curls. A true beauty classic, this style can take you from day to night with ease. We also dig that you can pull this look together all on your own—no salon visit required. Learn How to Create Voluminous Curls On Any Hair Type to pay homage to the ‘40s!
7. FULL CURLS
Prefer a more sultry approach to 1940s hair? We have a feeling that full curls will meet your standards. Featuring thick, gorgeous spirals, this look is perfect for those who love thick and defined curls. All you need to do is grab a small section of hair and use a curling wand to build your curls. Pretty easy, right?
Editor’s tip: If you need more instruction on how to create full curls, visit our article, How to Use a Curling Iron or Wand, for some pointers.
8. SHORT AND CURLY
In the mood for short curly hair? We’ve got you covered! Take a page out of the ‘40s hair rulebook and use hot rollers. Hot rollers were ideal for bringing well-polished curls to life without a ton of fuss. Simply take a section of your hair, place the roller at the end, and roll upward toward your roots.
Secure the roller in place and repeat until you have a mane full of rollers. Leave in for about 20 to 30 minutes, and then remove the rollers. Spritz your hair with the L’Oréal Paris Elnett Precious Oil Satin Hairspray, and your look is complete.
9. BUMPER BANGS
If you’re game for giving your bangs a taste of 1940s hairstyles, you may want to try the bumper bangs hairstyle. Instead of allowing your fringe to fall over your forehead, this look rolls your bangs up at the front of your head for a bold look. Using a hair tool known as a “rat” (made out of a spongy roll), roll the ends of your bangs under the tool and roll up until you reach your scalp. Pin your hair in place, and you’re all set!
Editor’s tip: Don’t have a hair rat? No need to fret—we know it's a bit niche. Use a large foam curler to get the job done.
10. DOUBLE RAT UPDO
For those who are most interested in ‘40s updo hairstyles, consider stepping out with the double rat style. A nice change of pace from trendy pretzel buns and braided updos, this look uses a hair rat or large foam curler to keep your strands stylishly tucked away just like the ladies of the ‘40s. To start, simply create a bumper bang at the front of your head. Next, pull the rest of your hair toward the nape of your neck. Using a large foam curler, place the roller at the end of your hair and start rolling it toward your roots. Secure the roller with a few bobby pins and ta-da: a double rat updo!
Classic and sophisticated styles are your forte? Well, you might be surprised to learn that the chignon was a ‘40s hair staple! Back then, the look was typically paired with two hair rolls at the front of your head for a style that gives your hair an elegant yet vintage touch. Once you have your hair rolls in place at the crown of your head, click through to our article, How to Master a Chignon In 5 Easy Steps to complete your style.
12. BRUSHED CURLY BOB
Bobs may be one of the hottest hairstyle trends right now, but they aren’t exactly new. Back in the ‘40s, bobs were typically styled with defined, brushed out curls. If you have a naturally curly bob, get the look by simply brushing through your curls. Follow up with a strong-hold spray, like the L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Hairspray Extra Strong Hold, to maintain your curly ‘do, and that’s all there is to it.
13. MINI ROLL UPDO
What’s better than a large hair roll? Mini rolls, of course! One of the standard ‘40s hairstyles for many actresses, this look came right in handy to frame your face and put your gorgeous features on display. Start by parting your hair into two even sections and clip the bottom half out of the way. Create one to two-inch sections, roll as you usually would, and pin your hair in place. Repeat until the top part is full of mini rolls.
Next, release the bottom half of your hair. Brush your locks upward toward the center of your head. Using a hair rat or foam curler, roll your hair around the tool, and continue until you reach your scalp. As a result, your hair should be rolled toward the front of your head. Pin your hair in place, spritz with shine spray, and your mini roll updo is ready for a selfie!
Discover more tips & tricks
Keep your skin happy
Shop Featured Hair Style products