Curly girls: How we rolled, permed and crimped our way to perfection

The practice of curling hair has changed over the years. Source: Pexels.

From pin curls and rag curls, to spending hours in a hairdresser’s chair with a hot perm machine above your head, styling it with rollers at home, and today’s super-fast hot irons, ladies have played with plenty of different methods to put a curl in their hair.

Of all the methods, perms were probably the most dramatic – remember the bouffant ‘dos of the 1970s> 

Surprisingly, the first permanent wave for hair was demonstrated in 1906. While the machines used to look almost terrifying, as women’s hair was hooked up to long dangling wires, the method itself grew in popularity – and shaped some of the most iconic styles in recent history.

A model having her hair permed by a permanent wave machine in 1928. Source: Getty.But just how have perms and curls changed over the years?

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Do you remember trying out some of these looks?

’50s – Dramatic curls

Marilyn Monroe was known for her carefully styled curls throughout the 1950s.

Marilyn Monroe led a stream of stars in the ’50s embracing dramatic and tight curls, as perms continued to soar in popularity.

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As celebrities covered magazines with tight, short bobs of curls, people across the globe followed suit and visited the hairdressers regularly to have their hair heated into shape.

Were you a fan of perms? Do you have the one now?

’60s – Loose and relaxed curls

Jackie Kennedy became a huge style icon with her loose, simple curls.

A decade later, everything relaxed a little.

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While perms were still very popular, setting your hair at home began to grow as a trend.

Jackie Kennedy and The Supremes led a wave of stars showing off bigger, more loosely styled curls – no doubt using rollers at the time to achieve their looks.

Were you a fan of rollers? Do you still have a working set of heated rollers?

Read more: Why is my hair thinning?

’70s – Flicked curls

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Farrah Fawcett’s hair was one of the most popular styles of the 70s.

One of the most iconic hair styles of the ’70s came from Farrah Fawcett – and it was to become one of the defining styles of the time.

With a little heat, some rollers, and a brush, people managed to achieve flicked-out curls that made the Charlie’s Angels star so recognisable.

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Did you rock this style? How did you perfect your flicks?

’80s – Wild and crimped curls

Olivia Newton John’s huge curls carried on long past Grease’s release date in 1978.

Who could forget when crimping first took off?

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While Grease was released in the late ’70s, Olivia Newton John’s wild curls in the final sequence became one of her most famous scenes in film, and continued to inspire women in the following decade.

Everyone from Diana Ross to Madonna owned a pair of crimpers, and embraced a decade of wild, loose curls.

’90s – Messy curls

Following the wild styles of the 80s, hair cuts began to calm again in the 90s – but not all too quickly.

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Julia Roberts shaped the new looks in the early ’90s with her appearance in Pretty Woman, with a mass of soft, auburn curls worn long, and many stars and fans continued the look right through the decade.

How did you wear your hair in the ’90s?

2000s – Soft curls

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As perming and rollers became almost extinct in the early 2000s, and with the introduction of heated curling irons and straighteners, a new style altogether began to take shape.

Looser, wavy curls were introduced, as modelled at the time by Sex and The City star and style-setter Sarah Jessica Parker.

Today – The return of the perm and tight curls

A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on

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As with many fashion trends, recent years has seen the return of everything from perming to hair rollers, and even crimping.

People right across the world are continuing to experiment with their locks, and it’s seen a return to the wilder days in the 80s, with tight and huge curls making a return, as modelled by superstar singer Beyonce.

What was your favourite style? Did you perm your hair or use rollers? Do you still do it now?