Hair how-to: the cheat’s retro roll – video & step-by-step
So, here we go, my first hair tutorial complete with video! One of the simplest things I do with my hair is also the thing I get asked about the most – the little ‘roll’ I wear at the front of my head.
Here’s the story: I made up this little hair twist to give my super flat hair some volume and because my hair is so long trying to do proper rolls is quite a frustrating and time-consuming experience (not to mention they end up gigantic!). In the old days, I actually used to do more of a double faux victory roll thing, but find this single roll more flattering for my face shape. Because it’s something I made up as I went along, it is incredibly easy and quick – as I am that brilliant mix of very lazy and impatient – and I actually had to exaggerate the various stages in the video below as the whole thing takes me about a minute these days, having done it surely over a thousand times by this point… My favourite way to wear my hair down is with this little roll at the front and some gentle backcombing for volume through the rest of the hair, so this is what I’m showing you in the video and the step-by-step guide below which will be best to use as a reference point having seen the video, as some bits were hard to capture by photo.
For me, this is a great look to have to hand as I am just so bad at curling my hair – it’s a way to still have vintage inspired hair but without the beautiful waves I have zero ability to create.
You will need
A narrow (i.e. not wide paddle) hairbrush or fine-toothed comb (to allow for backcombing)
2-3 kirby grips in your hair’s colour
You don’t need the sound on as I’ve added captions (note: I don’t think they work on phones, but you probably won’t need them anyway). Enjoy!
And if you’re someone who prefers to work from photos, or wants to see a fuller explanation of any of the steps in the video, here you go…
1. Prep and section the first side
Here’s my hair as its flat, limp self. I’ve run my hair straighteners through it because I’m going to wear it down, but find this roll works just as well on my naturally wavy (and fluffy) hair if I’m going to put it up straight after. Curled hair would be doable, but because this isn’t a proper roll with the ends tucked in you’ll end up with a curly ‘tail’ which might look a bit awkward. Starting with a side parting that’s roughly in line with my fringe (although this works just fine if you don’t have a fringe too, you’d just start further forward), I section off a ‘triangle’ of hair about three inches wide starting halfway between the top of my head and my ear. You can see the shape in the second picture and how the line slopes up towards the back of my head – this is made clearer in the video.
2. Back-comb and flip; section the other side
Gently backcomb this section from behind from the height you see in the left photo – about a dozen times will do. Make sure the front stays pretty smooth – you can run the brush gently over it if it gets untidy. The backcombing is just to give the hair some texture so that you can mold it into the twist later and to give it a bit of volume, hence it’s only gentle. In the video, at this point I then take a further smaller section of hair to the side and repeat, which is because I kind of messed up my initial section and I know from experience if the initial selection is too narrow you won’t get quite the right shape – do take a look to see the rough size that works best, but otherwise it can take a bit of practice to nail it. Once it’s done, flip this section over your head and it’ll sit there quite happily while you now take the second section of about the same size and height on the other side of your head, using the brush to scoop it up – as in the picture on the right. This is quite hard to describe, so see the video if you get stuck here. Keep hold of it…
3. Merge the sections; push into position and pin
Merge the first section of hair with the second – use the brush to do this, brushing the first section across and into the second, without brushing the backcombing out. Again, the video will demonstrate this better than I can describe it (particularly as I didn’t get a photo of this bit), if you get stuck. Once it’s all been brought together, backcomb the other side another dozen or so times. Now, use your fingers to push the piece of hair from behind essentially into a subtle S shape – or what looks like a roll from the front. It should keep its volume. Using 2-3 kirby grips in your hair colour, secure ‘behind’ the roll, to lock in its shape and height. Again, you can see better what I mean in the video. Make sure there’s at least two grips inserted from either direction, with a third being used to secure it if it feels a bit loose.
4. Spray the roll; optional – back-comb surrounding hair
Smooth over any straggler hairs gently with your brush/comb and when you’re happy your roll is neat, spray it in place. Now, if I’m wearing my hair down with the roll, I go around the top of my head behind the roll picking up sections a couple of inches wide from the top and backcombing gently to give gentle height. Again, this is gentle backcombing from the underneath so that the top of the hair that’s on display stays neat looking.
5. Smooth over and you’re done!
Tidy up any backcombing fluff you’ve created by smoothing the brush over the top of your hair and that’s it! Hair that’s no longer flat as in the first picture and has a cute vintage-inspired roll in the front. As I say, I will also do this roll before putting my hair up – as it only uses a tiny section of hair, you can do pretty much anything else you want with it! Of course, the section of hair you’ve pinned will lay against your head as this isn’t a proper roll where it’s all tucked in – because my hair is all different colours you can just about see it blending in with the rest in the picture on the right.
Do let me know if you liked this and want to see more… Is it useful to have the step-by-step too?
Although, I probably need a bit of a break after this one as when I went to upload it to YouTube I noticed a glitch with one of the slides… tried to replace it and the whole video editing software completely broke and I had to start again. Was someone trying to tell me I shouldn’t venture into the video world?! I certainly have a lot more respect for anyone who’s done videos of their own now! This took so much longer than I thought it would.