According to a survey from 2014, the 60s are the most beloved decade of the 20th century in terms of hairstyles. Why is that important to us in the context of this piece? Because the 60s gave us the iconic beehive hair, of course. So let’s take an in depth look at the hairstyle that shaped an entire generation. It has become so well-known that you can still see it today, 60 years after it was invented, on red carpets and in fashion shows.
But where did beehive hair come from? Who invented it? Who wore it? Are there pros and cons to it and what do you need to do if you want to wear it today, in the modern age?
What Is Beehive Hair?
The first thing we need to do is establish exactly what beehive hair is. Since it’s a rather old or should we say ‘retro’ hairstyle that was invented more than 60 years ago, it has gone through a series of changes. So let’s define beehive hair exactly as it was worn by ladies everywhere at its inception.
The beehive represents a retro hairstyle in which the hair is piled up at the back of the head in a large conical updo that closely resembles a natural beehive. Hence the name. The top of the hairdo has to be slightly conical and pointing backward. While the rest, meaning the body of the hairdo has to be as massive or as bouffant as possible.
Besides the iconic name ‘beehive hair’ the hairstyle was also called the B-52 because it resembled the nose of an airplane called the Boeing B-52 Strategic Bomber.
It is worth noting here that most beehives of the 60s were not natural. This means that almost all women who wore beehive hair used extensions, wigs, and weaves to create this iconic hairstyle. The hair needed to be puffed up to the extreme which was simply not possible by using just the natural volume of the hair. Therefore, some extra hair was used.
Who Invented Beehive Hair?
The history of beehive hair is a very interesting one. It is the creation of a woman called Margaret Vinci Heldt. She was a hair stylist based in Chicago. In 1960, a magazine by the name Modern Beauty Salon approached her. They asked if she could design a new hairstyle that could get women interested in the world of hair styling and that could represent the new decade that was just starting.
Margaret Vinci Heldt answered the challenge and created beehive hair. She got the inspiration from a little fez hat which she had. The fez was decorated with beads in the shape of bees which also gave her the idea for the name. But that was not what got the hair stylist’s attention. What Margaret loved the most was that wearing a tall hat such as a fez did not force her to have ‘hat hair’ all day long, something that all women of that decade hated.
Her dream was to invent a hairstyle that could hold tight all day in the exact same way that the fez hat held her hair in place and not ruin it. And beehive hair was born.
Of course, Margaret’s idea didn’t come out of the blue, nor did it have any legs to stand on. In reality, women were already having a longstanding love affair with gigantic hair ever since the 50s, the previous decade. During that time, women all over the world had been wearing shoulder length bouffants. Therefore, when they found out that there was now a bigger and better bouffant called beehive hair that would also last an entire day, history was in the making.
Famous Beehive Hair Examples in Pop Culture
Beehive hair is one of those hairstyles that has simply permeated pop culture in all its layers. As a consequence, it has been featured in countless movies, TV series, and shows. Plus, it has become one of the most iconic hairdos of all time. Here are some notable examples of celebrities wearing beehive hair.
- Amy Winehouse – the British pop singer undoubtedly had one of the most famous hairstyles of all time. But how many of you recognized it as being a beehive? In fact, it was more of a modern, messy type of beehive that matched the singer’s brand and look.
- Marge Simpson from the ever so popular show The Simpsons also wears an over the top blue beehive. Of course, hers is comically large, but there were some women in the 60s who reached for heights like Marge’s beehive hair.
The Ronettes were a very popular girl group from the 60s that actually helped make beehive hair what it is today. In fact, it was Ronnie Spector, short for Veronica, one of the girls, who inspired Amy Winehouse in the first place to get her iconic beehive some 50 years later.
How to Create Beehive Hair
While it is true that beehive hair doesn’t exactly have the same place it once had in the spotlight, you can still wear it. The beehive is still one of the best hairdos you can wear for formal events such as a wedding, whether you are the bride or a guest, a party, or your prom. Or even a red carpet event if you get to go to one! So let’s go through the steps of creating a classic type of beehive hair.
Wash your hair very well
Every beehive hair updo has to start with extremely clean hair. This is important because if your hair still has traces of dirt or sebum on it, you won’t be able to tease it up as easily.
Therefore, wash your hair before starting on this updo. If you want, you can use clarifying shampoo because it will strip your hair even more of all the unwanted grease and sebum. Once you have dried and moisturized it as usual, proceed to the next steps.
Moisturize with hair oil
Use a few drops of hair oil to moisturize your hair. However, keep in mind that this step does not mean you have to feed oil and sebum back into your hair. But merely to hydrate it a little and make it easier for you to run a comb through it. Therefore, only a few drops for the entirety of your hair will be more than enough.
Add a few drops of hair oil to your palms, rub them together, and then run your fingers through your hair.
Section your hair
The easiest way to tease your hair into a beehive is to section it first. First part your hair down the middle. Choose two strands on each side of your face and secure them with hair clips or ties. Reach toward the middle section of your dome and choose two more sections, one of each side. Secure those with clips or elastics. Finally, repeat the same process for the leftover hair in the back.
Note – you have a choice here. If you want a classic beehive hair that means putting up all your strands, than proceed by sectioning all your hair just as mentioned above.
However, if you’re trying to achieve a half up half down beehive, then simply leave the hair at the back untouched. Only work on the strands in the front and in the middle of your hair that you have already sectioned and secured with hair clips or ties.
It’s time to tease!
This is the moment that you have been waiting for since the beginning! This is the motion or part of the process that makes beehive hair what it is and separates it from all other hairstyles.
Start with the middle sections. Use a small or thin comb to tease them out. There is no right and wrong to this. You can continue teasing them until you get to your desired height. When you have finished with the middle sections, set them to the side and move on to the sections in the front. In the same way, you can tease them as much as you see fit and until you get to the desired volume.
Give your beehive hair a round shape
To do this, you will have to use a soft brush. Very carefully, run the brush on top of your teased hair. Don’t push the bristles of the brush into your hair! The idea here is not to comb the hair but merely to get it into a soft and rounded shape. You can, of course, manage your hair into the more classic and original conic or pointy shape. But that might be a little too retro for the modern eye or the modern aesthetic. Therefore, we suggest you create a rounded dome.
For the half up half down beehive hair
If you went for the half up half down version, you still have one more step to do. Bring the two front strands all the way to the back. In this way, they will hug the beehive you have created at the top of your head. Pin them under the beehive to keep it in place. If you want, you can twist them together for a better hold or you can use several hair pins. Either way, hairspray will be crucial here. This is what makes the beehive stay in place for several hours at a time and makes sure the bouffant part of the hairstyle doesn’t move.
Note – please understand that hairspray is not a healthy choice for your hair, skin, or lungs, nor is it the best alternative for the environment. Therefore, in this case, beehive hair is not the ideal hairstyle for daily wear. However, if you do want to wear it every day, make sure to replace the hairspray, especially in such large quantities, with a healthier alternative.
Modern Beehive Hair vs Classic Beehive Hair
The process we described above shows more of a modern type of beehive hair. However, the classic, traditional beehive was a little different. For example, women first of all put their hair up in rollers and only then, after sleeping on the rollers for an entire night, would proceed to create the beehive. The reasoning behind it was that the rollers would add even more volume and height to the hair for them to work with in creating the beehive.
Second of all, unlike today, most beehives of old were not natural. Almost all women used wigs, weaves, and extensions to create their favorite types of beehive hair. The fashion and styling trends of the 50s and 60s dictated that the bigger your hair was, the better you looked. Therefore, women went to the extreme to make their beehive hair as big as possible. This meant adding several layers of natural or synthetic extensions on top of their own hair or even wearing wigs made to look like giant beehives.
As a result, women also started wearing Spanish hair combs during the 60s. They were also called mantilla combs and they had more of a practical purpose rather than an aesthetic one. The fake beehives women wore got so big during that decade that Spanish mantilla combs were the only hair accessories sturdy and large enough that could hold the hair in place. If not, they ran the risk of the beehive collapsing under its own weight.
The Urban Myth of Beehive Hair
The hairdos were so big that they even spawned an urban myth. Some people believed that beehives could carry spiders in them. Of course, they were just a way to scare girls and women so that they would stop spending so much time in front of the mirror arranging their beehive hair and get back to cooking and cleaning. It didn’t really work. But this manufactured urban legend goes to show just how important beehive hair had become and just how much cultural and social significance it was starting to gain.
What Do You Think?
Are you scared of such urban myths of spiders in your beehive hair or are you ready to try this wonderful hairstyle that has been popular for more than 60 years? Let us know in the comment section below!