Old Time Beauty Products

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Tips for Gibson Girl Hair Style



The above photo is me, mid-week into the hair washing experiment. It did provide some assistance in creating the period look of the Gibson Girl, but as you will have read in the original post on the topic, I found other methods to be superior.
I am, nevertheless, often asked about how it is I get my Gibson Girl/Edwardian hair styles done, by people who see my videos or even just see me about the town. So here are some tips for the purpose:

  1. Start with long hair. Sadly this does not include the modern definition where "long" means shoulder length. You want it to cover your breasts at least. This info may seem obvious to some, but I notice a lot of people appear amazed by simple hairstyles like the one pictured above, which is absolutely nothing but hair pulled up in a topknot and a couple pins driven through it. I think it's simply that people are trying to achieve it with 8 or 9 inches, when I used around 34. If your hair is too short then there's no excess to work with to make the poofs and folds that are characteristic of these early 20th century hairdos. They require long hair. If you don't have long hair to begin with, you will need to supplement your hair with a wig, or hair extensions, or something in that vein. (And don't worry that it's cheating, even Edwardian ladies used falsies to get their styles.)
  2. It's advisable not to let your hair be too clean. Unless you have coarse or very thick hair, these old styles tend to slip right out of your hairpins if you've got your locks freshly washed with modern, clean-rinsing, hydrating and clarifying shampoo. Either do your style a day or more after washing your hair, or use an Edwardian era soap to wash your hair (I find it does make a difference to use these genuine soaps -- I think because the old-fashioned soaps don't rinse as clean and thereby they offer a bit more body to the hair.) Of course, don't let your hair be too messy either -- greasy, dusty, dandruffy hair has never been considered attractive! If you must do your Gibson girl hairstyle on freshly washed hair, you can also grease up your hair before starting with a pomade or some suitable hair oil that will provide the stickiness needed.
  3. Comb, and then brush your hair before starting. The brushing really seems to be key to getting the fluffy texture which is the basis for these styles. Use a natural bristle brush; texts of the time usually say it should be stiff, so I won't question them on that. Also be sure to wash out your hairbrush at least as often as you do your makeup brushes -- another surprising thing that makes a difference.

There is an interesting post over at Edwardian Promenade where the singer Aline Vallandri (1878-1952) tells the "secret" for achieving her famous floor-length hair. Most of it is just common sense advice about keeping the hair healthy (keep it clean, keep it moisturized to prevent breakage, don't use hot irons) but also she mentions her real secret -- a "lotion" given to her by a nun at her boarding school. She does not divulge the recipe, but hints it will "make the hair grow" and that similar concoctions can be had from any doctor. I'll probably be experimenting with that at some future time.

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