Vintage styled hair is an integral part of being a vintage girl – well in my opinion, anyhow. It’s just one more piece of the puzzle that helps lend a girl that classic film star feeling. My technique of choice is pincurling because I favor the 1940′s rolled, smooth styles. Ladies, if you’ve never tried pincurling, you honestly have no idea what you’re missing. If you are interested in learning, YouTube is chock full of valuable information from our leading vintage gals. I learned from Aya’s Tutorial (part 1, part 2) but Lisa (part 1, part 2) has great instructions, too.
My reason for bringing all this up today is that I have discovered a marvelous vintage hair secret that I’d like to share. Well, it’s not so much a secret but I think it’s relatively unknown. In the tutorials above the ladies recommend using hair products or water as a setting lotion when you pincurl. These do work to terrific effect and there are many superior products to buy (check out this Fedora Lounge discussion for tips on the best ones). However, I’ve always been overprotective of my hair and try to avoid hair products and heat when styling. It’s become something of an obsession with me, so when my storebought setting lotion ran out a month ago, I decided to see if I could make my own.
My search led me to the aforementioned Fedora Lounge thread where I was soon engrossed in the ins-and-outs of setting lotion. Some of the ladies mentioned the possibility of homemade setting lotion and as I read further I even found links. I printed out two of the most promising recipes and set about procuring ingredients.
So far, I’ve only tried the first one but it has proved to be such an immense success for me that I couldn’t keep it to myself another moment. It’s a blindingly simple recipe that uses only 2 ingredients and takes only 15 minutes to make.
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon whole flax seeds
Combine the water and flax seeds in a small pan, and bring to a boil. Simmer until the mixture is gelatinous (about 10-15 minutes). Strain out as many of the seeds as you can. Let cool. Keeps for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
The result is an odorless, colorless gel that can be used just like setting lotion or putty when setting pincurls. It has the consistency of egg whites. Don’t worry if you aren’t into cooking. It’s a forgiving recipe. The first time I tried it, I forgot about it and it boiled over a bit, but the mixture turned to jelly anyway. I tried straining the seeds out, but they get pretty set into the jelly and it’s a tough task. I just left the seeds in and was careful not to get them in my hair. [2/8/11 Update: After making this recipe once every two weeks since posting this, I've found that it's quite easy to strain the seeds out. Just be sure to strain as soon as you take the mixture off the heat. If it has a chance to rest, it sets up.]
The marvelous part of this is the softness of my hair after pincurling. No yucky hard pieces where the product has built up, no greasy feeling. Just soft, dry, perfectly curled hair. I have found that my curls stay in longer and better with it, too. The product I used always gave up within 2 days of setting my hair. Last week, I was able to go for 4 days with my flax seed set and it was quite easy to fix my hair style each morning. I was testing to see how long it would last – I don’t normally go 4 days without washing my hair! :)
One more tip: if you want that amazingly shiny hair we often see on classic film starlets, massage some tea tree oil into your scalp and comb through your hair before pincurling. Works like a charm and smells divine, too!
4/14/10 Update: I have a convert! Be sure to check out the post Kate of Vintage in a Modern World wrote about her flax seed experience!
2/8/11 Update: Another convert! Atlanta of The Story of a Seamstress and her gorgeous pincurled, self-set hairstyle.
6/13/11 Update: Joanna of FriendSheep is a happy convert!