Pincurl your own hair for major no-heat waves and retro style

Updated Jun 11 2021
This is Offbeat Bride contributor Roxy, showing off her pincurls

You know we love us some Roxie from How-To Hair girl. Roxie has shown us how to style a short rockabilly style and a Mad Men-inspired updo, and even how to dye your armpit hair.

Today Roxie's back, with a pincurl tutorial! Pincurls are the foundation of a ton of classic hairstyles, going way back to the 1700s. You'll most recognize them from the early 20th century though. Once you master the method of how to do pincurls, you'll find they're a great way to style your hair — for your wedding day, or any other day!

Roxie agreed to show us how to make SUPER EASY pin curls that can be left long and loose or to create the gorgeous updo shown above. This can easily go retro (since she got this style technique from her grandma, Suzi) or modern. The best part is that you can totally do this style on short hair too… In fact, doing a pincurl style can be even easier on shorter hair!

Before we get into the tutorial, here are Roxie's thoughts on how to pincurl your own hair, starting with the origin story:

I can’t talk about pin-curls without first telling you about my mother’s mother, grandma Suzi.Screen Shot 2013-01-24 at 1.17.14 PM (pictured is my mother and my grandmother with their matching pin-curl sets)

The glorious 85 year old woman who lovingly served me chocolate chip mint ice cream every evening when I visited her. Played dominoes or cribbage every evening of her life.

Roast beef and yorkshire pudding with pickled chestnuts and tomato pudding every Christmas. Never forgets to send a card for every occasion to all of her family members. Taught me to refer to my lady parts as my “Who who”. Got to love the lady.

Grandma Suzi is the ultimate grandma. A creature of habit, a pervayor of all things tried and true. She pin curls her hair every evening, drinks a glass of red wine and nibbles on dark chocolate. She has pin curled her hair every evening of her life, starting from about age 10.  Pin curled hair, cotton pajamas, Oil of Olay on the skin. She files her nails, reads a book. Knows pretty well what to expect for tomorrow.

And every morning, the pins come out, and she brushes it into a perfect waved bob, where it stays perfectly coiffed until late in the day when she shampoos it and does it all over again. Grandma Suzi, I salute you.

Here’s the pin curl tutorial so you too can get the experience, and the look!

 

Here is how the pincurls look while they are curling up your 'do. Photo courtesy of Roxie from How-To Hair Girl

Want another no-heat curl technique?

There are many ways to do no-heat curls, and the headband trick is my current favorite. You do it when your hair is half-way dry, it takes literally 2 minutes or less to curl your hair up in the headband, go about your business, then shake out your curls and go.

A quick, easy no-damage solution to straight, flat hair. It works on fine, coarse, thin, thick, longish short to long hair. It is great for a lady on the go who needs some extra oomph. Also, it’s a great prep for up-dos! Try it, and send me a photo!

You will need a stretchy headband.

  1. Begin by putting the band around your head, across the top of your forehead. Starting at the front on one side, grab a small section of hair and lightly twist it, then wind it loosely around the stretchy band a couple times.
  2. Then, take a section next to the first, and gently twist and wind. Work around in sections like this until you get to the middle of the back of the head.
  3. Now, start in the front on the other side and work your way back, twisting and winding the hair gently, section by section. Keep in mind that it does not need to look neat at this stage. After all, we are going for loose, easy curls.
  4. Now, go about your biz, sip coffee, pack lunches, put on makeup, do yoga, go back to sleep, whatever your morning routine may be.
  5. When hair seems dry, pull the headband off and shake out your pretty curls… and GO!

Next up: How to turn PIN CURLS into a vintage-inspired DIY hairstyle

If you want to integrate pin curls into a vintage-inspired DIY up-do, we can do that too!

Practice up because this gorgeous and easy-to-do vintage-inspired hairstyle can work great for your wedding day… or even just a party!

One more DIY pin-curled hairstyle from Roxie…

This is a hairstyle that exudes sexy vintage glamour. It combines HTHG’s easy victory rolls with a couple quick pin curls for a 1-2 punch of hotness.

This hairstyle totally works on shortish to long hair. And the best part??? You have bouncy curls when you take it down!

DO it, you sexy dame!

  1. Start with some victory rolls.

2. Now part the hair down the center of the back. Start on one side, and divide the section of hair in half vertically.

3. Starting at the ends, roll the hair into flat pin-curl. Pin it discreetly right behind the ear.

 

4. Now take the hair from the other half of the section, and roll it into another flat pin-curl. Pin it just behind and slightly below the first pin-curl.

 

 

5. Repeat the process on the other side.

 

  1. I personally cannot sleep in pin curls so I do head-band curls. Slightly different looking curls to pin curls, but still beautiful. I have worn the head-band during the day for nights out and gotten compliments on my hair style, which wasn't a style…

  2. I love the look of the pincurls, will be attempting this at the weekend. Hayley – Any chance you could explain the method for the headband curls too??

    I am like the princess in the Princess and the Pea (and not very Princessy otherwise!) , so it is unlikely I will be able to sleep with the pins in either!

  3. Does anyone know if you can pin them when your hair is wet, and use a blow dryer to speed up the process?

    • I do not recommend pincurling on wet hair, slightly damp with setting lotion (diluted for your hair type is best). When I experimented on wet hair, they seemed to have a funky kink that wouldn't brush out into soft waves, not to mention I got the headache from hell. This is my daily style so I have practiced quite a lot (my grandma was born in the late 20s and she raised me so I grew up with this as the norm). When you get out of the shower, sqeeze as much water as possible out of your hair, go about the rest of your routine, brush through, and it should be "dry enough."

      • I'd also add, depending on your hair type, blow drying to speed things up can cause a lot of frizz. Start with low heat and low speed to minimize this if your hair is prone to fly aways or frizz.

  4. I have super long hair so I am leaning toward doing spiral wrapped rag curls. similar no heat, no stress hair style.

  5. I have a lot of long hair. It does not hold a heated curl for the life of me. So I separate my hair into a few buns. I part them to the sides so I can comfortably sleep on my back. I wet my hair before bed, put it up, then sleep. When I wake up, I get ready, then right before I step out of the car, I take my hair down, run my fingers through, and voila! It looks natural and it's very low maintenance! 🙂

  6. I have shortish hair (it will be a couple of inches above my shoulder for the wedding), and it hates heat curls of any kind (or really any heat aside from occasional straightening), so this might be a perfect idea.

  7. A tip: put a playing card or piece of slightly rigid paper between the hair and the pin to avoid dents (especially useful on short hair).

  8. If you can, try to avoid using bobby pins. Use flat pincurl clips, or, like rumorsofmydemise suggested, use a playing card or bit of stiff paper to avoud dents.

  9. I did my sisters long blond hair for her wedding. it was slightly damp and we did it about 3 the day before the wedding. She never had it in curls before. So I set it in rags– about 15 min. before leaving for church we took them out- and just loosened with fingers—looked so great and lasted all day too.

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