How to make multi-sized hair rats for under $5


how to make a hair rat for vintage hairstyles

So many of my readers have asked about hair rats. What they are, how to use them, where to buy them, etc. The free version involved pulling hair from your hair brush and rolling it up into the desired shape. If, like myself, you are completely grossed out by hair, here's another option:

For years, my go-to for hair rats have been these mesh chignon forms. They used to be made of foam many years ago but since they've started carrying mesh versions, I've found that they are much more versatile. They're less than $5 on Amazon and they come in blonde, brown and dark brown.

                           Cut the donut and bend it to form a tube.

                             Slide your fingers between one layer of mesh and give that layer a snip.

   Unroll it and you'll have a few feet of this wonderful mesh. You can cut it into different lengths and widths,   roll it up to make several perfect hair rats. I get 5 or so rats from a single chignon form. If I need a very large rat, I stack the layers and roll them up together.

I know that some of you gals asked about rats for other hair colors. The gorgeous and brilliant Vivian from Quaintrelle Life posted a hair rat tutorial using wool roving. Roving comes in every color of the rainbow and can be shaped into different sizes just like these mesh rats. Thank you, Viv!

You can also check out my past tutorial on making hair rats using fishnet stockings

5 Hair Styles Using Rats:

Allie's Lake Hair from The Notebook
Betty Grable's Rolls
Quick and Easy Vintage Hair
Victory Rolls with Faux Bangs
Basic Victory Rolls (can do with or without rats)


  1. Great tutorial, I myself have never used a rat, my hair is so thick it would just double my hair size, that would not look good. Your hair is getting so long!

  2. That is a great idea! I have one that I havent used from SB-I will def try to make more out of it before I try some hair tutorials. Very savvy of you mama! xox

  3. This is EXACTLY what I do :D God bless hair doughnuts x


  4. I'm SO glad you posted this! 2 weeks ago I bought a rat at Sally because I wanted to do faux bangs for a 1950s Tiki Ball event, but the only one they had was WAY too big (it was meant for french rolls or chignons rather than bangs). I didn't want to just throw it away but I was afraid to try taking it apart. Now I know I can do it without destroying the whole thing and make it a bit smaller so I can get it to work! Thanks so much!

  5. Thanks for this tutorial! I've been meaning to try and find some kind of alternative to those foam hair rats, since they just don't do me any good since I can't stab (er, I mean stick) bobby pins into it. This is a perfect solution!

  6. I've been using the wired foam hair rats, but I'll have to give the mesh forms a try!

    Mary Ellen
    The Working Home Keeper

  7. I actually have made mine from an old pair of tights! As I favour big hair, I am currently making a huge one out of 3 pairs of old tights! I glue mine to a good size hairclip so it stays in place.
    Rats are brillant for ladies like me with fine hair!X

  8. Fantastic tutorial, thank you very much! My hair is too thin these days to use a hair rat with a finished style (I used to do so though), but I still use the foam ones like a big curler for when I make faux (Bettie) bangs in the front. The foam ones run me about $10 (with shipping) a piece and don't last that long, I find, so I love that this method gives you several rats for considerably less than that price. Thanks again - excellent post, honey!

    ♥ Jessica

  9. Great post! Love this idea! My hair is getting long but it is very fine and thin. I buy forms like this from Sally Beauty and I, too, cut the bun form to make a long rat. I also get a bun form and keep it intact for buns. I have never unrolled the mesh before! Very neat! I will have to try it! Thanks for this post!

  10. ~ * ♥ * ~

    Oh I can't believe it! Directly as I read this post I thought that I'd never find a mesh bun form like you've shown, but lo and behold I walk into my local dollar shop and there it is! I can't wait to make my own hair rat now, so thank you so much for sharing Brittany. :)

    bonita of Depict This!
    ~ * ♥ * ~

  11. Thanks so much for this tutorial :)
    I recently purchased a mesh chignon, and deconstructed it as you demonstrated, however I am having the hardest time actually getting my hair to roll around it! I start to roll my hair around the rat, but then my hair slips and the roll becomes all dilapidated and ridiculous-looking...any tips you could offer would be very much appreciated.

  12. I've just had a random idea, If the Mesh was wrapped round a wire pipe cleaner that might help with bending and having it stay in shape?

  13. Wow thanks for the great tips. I'm new to 1940's style and am searching for great hairstyles.

    Great blog!

    thanks Sarah

  14. my mother who is 100 said her aunts in the early 20's use to use their fathers neckties to twine their hair around when the made the buns over the ears could this work also?

  15. Thank you so much it totally helped me with Samantha Stewart's hairstyle from foyle 's war.


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