1950’s hair – ‘The Roll’

movie me

Last night I got out my fake lashes, red lippy, big hair and went all movie themed to Rockabilly Rebels at The Bathhouse. Every time I put my hair up like this I get asked at least once ‘How do you do that’? (or in the case of last night 3 times) So I’ve decided to do a little ‘how to’ for everyone who has ever wanted to try it because its actually super easy. That is its super easy as long as you get one of these:

Foam roll

Don’t what you actually call this but basically its a foam roll with a snap on the end. You can buy one from Boots for around ยฃ5. They are super useful and can be used to create all kinds of fun hairstyles, including a 50’s roll. Traditionalists call this cheating as there is a way to do a 50s roll without one but I’m not a traditionalist and I don’t have that kind of time!

First off a few things to note. This will be a lot easier with slightly dirty hair. I realize that sounds kind of gross but fresh washed hair just slides around to much. So ‘day old’ hair is best. Also you don’t need to have a super long fringe to do this either, it just needs to be long enough to go around the foam roll once really. Ok? Great, here we go:

50s roll double 1

Separate the front section of your hair. Go fairly far back on your head. Brush this part forward and tie the rest of your hair back in a low ponytail. Spray the front section with dry shampoo if your worried your ‘day old’ hair will look greasy.

50s roll double 2

Next hold up the front section, spray with hairspray, and back comb a little. Only do a little, its just to give your hair a bit of thickness and volume so it looks fuller in the roll. Now hold your hair out in front bringing the ends together. Take your foam roll and twist the ends of your hair around the roll once as shown.

50s roll double 3

Next using your fingers to tightly tuck the hair as you go roll the foam roll up to your forehead. Make sure you tilt your head forward as you do this otherwise you will gent a weird bump in the top of your fake fringe.

50s roll double 4

Once your at the top you should have a tight roll with the ends of the foam roll sticking out the sides. Now use your fingers to gently pull the hair along the outside edges of the roll as you pull the roll back into a ‘U’ shape. Then take Bobby pins aka Kurby grips and pin the sides. The roll is foam so you can put the pins straight into it.

50s roll double 5

Then put a few pins across the top to keep the shape. After that it will just take a few more pins and some fiddling to make sure the whole foam roll is hidden by your hair. Now you can do what ever you like with the rest of your hair. Add flowers, bows, a Rosie the Riveter style hair scarf, anything you can think of!


You can this work look a number of other ways. Copying Racheal the Replicant from Blade Runner would look very modern if you paired the look with the exaggerated shoulders showing up on all the catwalks/high streets. In fact think I might have to try that next.


23 thoughts on “1950’s hair – ‘The Roll’

  1. This is a fantasic tutorial, i have been trying to do this style for weeks now and i have finally manged to do it.. thank you very much!! greta help. well defo recomend.

  2. Nice Tutorial! And don’t let the pooh-pooh-ers get you down! The girls back in the day “cheated” too! That sponge roll is called a “rat” and they’ve been used for over 100 years ๐Ÿ˜€ – of course the originals weren’t sponges – you would have made them by collecting your own hair (just clean out your hair brush once a week, and store the hair in a baggy till you’ve got enough to create the rat you want – it takes awhile). The advantage to a homemade rat is that it matches your hair perfectly and its FREE.

    1. Hi Belle! No, I just left the snaps on. They are small and easy to cover with your hair plus it means I can use the roll in other ways with the snap still on but you could quite easily remove the snaps if you wanted to.
      Ella x

  3. lovely pictures i have been trying to achieve this for a while but i have a question, so do you connect the foam roll or leave it open? :s

  4. Sally Hair and Beauty now stock a half length roly-poly on a comb that you can pick off. I’ve started using it for my fringe and find it more versatile than the bun one (and a little easier to use) as it’s smaller. Have only seen it in the Shaftsbury Avenue store so far though.

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