pin curls 101 basic easy pin curl tutorial from va voom vintage


I did a pin curl basics tutorial but I know that people are still having trouble with them so I really wanted to break it down, take it slow and easy and give some hints and tricks that I've learned over the past few years of pin curling.

 Since not everyone has the same hair type I hope to get some helpers in the near future so I can show you guys how to deal with different lengths and textures.

Wet or Dry Hair?
Hair can be wet or dry when pin curling. Try out both methods on your hair and see which turns out the best. I prefer wet hair because it gives a tighter curl. When wetting your hair, it doesn't need to be completely drenched. Towel dried hair or hair spritzed with a water bottle works best for me. If its too wet, my sets are harder to brush out and end up kinda wild.

What is setting lotion, Where do I buy it and How do I use it?
Setting lotion doesn't look like "lotion" at all. It's a watery substance applied before setting your hair to help it hold its shape and provide a nice texture. Many vintage ladies use Lotta Body. It's very inexpensive and a bottle lasts forever! Unless the bottle says "ready to use",  using setting lotion straight from the bottle will result in crispy hair so it needs to be diluted. I fill a spray bottle half way with water and half with setting lotion. If that mixture seems too much for your hair, you can dilute it further.

Spray it all over your hair and comb it through. Again, it doesn't need to be dripping wet, just a good once over will do.

setting lotion to use for a pin curl set


Should I use bobby pins or pin curl clips? What's the Difference?
You can use pins or pronged clips, both work great! I prefer pins because they are more comfortable to sleep in. If I pin curl in the morning and style in the evening, I may use clips instead. I most often use clips when doing stand-up pin curls.




How big should my pin curl sections be?
It depends on your hair thickness and what you want your hair to look like when it's finished. If you want tight curls, use smaller sections. For loose curls or loose waves, use larger sections. For my pin curl sets, I  use a 1 to 2 inch square section of hair. Anything smaller results in tight clown-like hair and anything larger tends to not dry all the way because my hair takes an eternity to dry. Again, experiment with your hair and see what works for you. It may help to take notes of your trials so you remember what turned out nicely and what didn't.



How to pin curl
I've taken pictures of the process in my previous post but this time I thought a video would help so you can see the exact movements up close. It's important to not twist the hair as you roll it.  This is pretty quick....



Pin Curl Placement
This is a very important step in pin curling. The wrong placement may result in a hot mess. My golden rule of pin curling is, unless you're doing fancy rolls or fringe, try to keep all of your pin curls at or below ear level. Once I figured that out, I was in a whole new pin curl world. I wish someone would have told me this when I started! If you are doing a Lucy style poodle fringe, front or side rolls, of course, you will pin curl that section but unless you're aiming for a Clara Bow look (which I do love) keep the rest way down low. In this photo, you can see that I have curls above ear level on the front and sides but the back is at ear level.



If you're not following a specific diagram, think about which way you want your hair to curl when it's finished. For a pageboy, curl under. For a flip, curl up. For a lovely set of soft, fluffy 40's-50's style curls, try doing them randomly up, down, this side and that side. My daily pin curl set is always pretty random but if you keep those curls at or below ear level and use a medium sized section of hair, it should turn out pretty nice.

Here are some of my tutorials using specific sets:
Rita Hayworth Pin Curl Waves (has a very long video on the brush-out also)
Marilyn Monroe Pin Curl Set

How long does it take to dry?
If you have thick and very wet hair, it may take longer to dry than someone with shorter or thinner hair. Mine takes about 4 hours to fully dry if I do it on towel dried hair but I generally pin curl at night and brush out in the morning to early afternoon. If you roll your curls very tight or use large sections of hair, that may also add to drying time.



Why do my pin curls sets always look messy when I take the pins out?


A pin curl set isn't finished when the pins or clips are removed. It still needs to be brushed out. I use both a plastic vented brush and a boar bristle to do my brush outs. A brush with nylon and boar bristle like this one smoothes frizzies and brings out a lot of shine.  See the video to watch the brush-out in action. Brush outs are one of the most important parts of achieving a perfect pin curl set....and don't worry! If you pin curled on damp hair and its thoroughly dry, brushing out should not make you lose all of that curl. Please pardon my lack of makeup and pink fuzzy robe- it was early!





Why doesn't my hair look like the vintage diagrams?
Most of those old pin curl sets are written for a specific vintage hair cut and unless the wearer's hair is cut to those lengths, it probably won't turn out looking exactly like the picture. That's okay, though! You can still use those old diagrams and tailor the sets to suit your cut and you'll end up with something fantastic. As far as hair cuts go, I really do recommend getting a little layering if you plan to do authentic styles all the time. My hair was the same length when I first started pin curling and it always seemed bushy. Even if you don't want an authentic cut, a few layers makes all the difference in the world!

Before I end, I want to give a shout out to Tickey Boo Tupney, who posted a really fantasic pin curl set for long hair yesterday. I love her hair, it always looks so perfect and so authentic! 




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how to do pin curls