Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Classic WIre Brush Rollers

Even though I don’t use them very often, I have been using them for the last few nights and  always had a fondness for classic black brush rollers because they really seem to be the typical curlers that housewives and teenagers routinely wore in the 60s (correct me if I'm wrong on this). The are the curlers made from a spiral wire covered with a wire of fabric mesh to form the roller, with a circular brush on the inside with the bristles poking through the mesh just slightly to help secure the rollers. The rollers were usually black (at least based on what mostly shows up on ebay) but occasionally available in colors as well as the (unfortunately) black and white ad shows.

The traditional way of securing these rollers was with plastic piks that were usually white or pink.  The rollers are about the easiest to set and great for beginners.  A well done set would have the piks form neat rows that are quite obvious on darker in hair in black rollers. Here a great picture from my friend Frannie (although its not her in the picture) of classic 1960s set in brush rollers.

I always like seeing such neat sets. A well done set like that is almost a work of art, and it takes some skill to do it so well which is rarely appreciated. Particularly for styles use the set for well defined form rather than more general waviness, a neat set really improves the final outcome.

One thing I have never understood is that if you do a quick web search, so many women from that period have bad memories of being uncomfortable in way-to-tight curlers. Its never good for the hair to have curlers in that tight since that will do more damage than good. You do need some tension. I always find the best tension for brush curlers is just enough so that you can barley notice them when you hair is wet. As hair dries, it shrinks slightly which is why you don’t want the curlers too tight to start. It does take a bit of practice, but done properly and once you have done it a few times, well set brush rollers are  quite comfortable and you really really do feel nicely set (nothing worse than a poorly done set where you always feel like you curlers are going to fall out!).

Drying was typically done by wearing curlers all day or overnight (or both) because dryers were relativity expensive at least at the beginning of the 60s, hence the classic housewife in curlers stereotype. Usually a pretty scarf was worn over the curlers during the day, or an equally pretty curler cap at night.Or sometimes just a net was worn:

Here is a classic scene: a lady wearing curlers all day in this 1960s ad: