‘Every woman can wave her hair, if she wants to, on pins.’ (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2a)
In this tutorial I’ll show you how to create authentic Edwardian heatless zig zag curls. Edwardian ladies used this technique to create waves for their pompadour hairstyles but these zig zag waves are still beautiful today!
And these curls last for days! My hair is naturally straight and doesn’t hold curls well but these are different: The zig zag waves hold for a whole week. Even in damp weather!
And what’s best you don’t need hairspray, hair products or heat to get these glossy, bouncy waves. All you need is some time to let your curls air dry.
‘To the woman who desires a really attractive, well-dressed head, waving is indispensable. […] [It only means] ten minutes’ work overnight, or the same extra time spent on the coiffure in the morning.
And the result is a prettily waved head, which takes half the time to dress, and, besides looking softer and more attractive, remains in position and shape considerably longer than straight, flabby hair.’ (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2a)
How To Make Edwardian DIY Wire Curlers
- craft wire or copper wire
- wire cutters or strong scissors
- round-nose pliers
Wire hair curlers were advertised as ‘”La Donna” French Crimping Pins, no heat necessary’ in Eaton’s Spring And Summer Catalogue 1904.
For Edwardian pin curls you can either use hairpins, like the one on the left, or make your own Edwardian-style wire hair curlers. To make DIY wire hair curlers, cut your craft wire slightly longer than an ordinary hairpin and bend it like the one on the right. You can use a file to smooth the edges.
Edwardian No-Heat Zig Zag Waves
After washing your hair, let it air-dry until it’s still slightly damp. Or use a spray bottle to dampen your hair.
If you feel you need hairspray, you can try bandoline – an authentic Edwardian hairspray! Depending on the strength, you can use it as hairspray or hair gel.
Related: Quince Seed Bandoline & Gum Arabic Bandoline
‘Divide the front hair into moderate strands (the more hair in each strand, the wider the wave). Take one strand, and place the hairpin, with the prongs well divided, at the roots of the strand of hair, with the loop of the pin nearest the scalp, and the hair between the prongs.
Hold the pin firmly with the left hand, and take the strand in the right. Twist it over each prong in turn, taking particular care to twist it towards the face the first time. If this is not done, the wave goes the wrong way. Continue twisting over and over each prong until the strand covers the pin in a sort of plait. […]
When all the hair has been used up take the two ends of the pin, and bend the left one towards the right, and the right towards the left. This crossing of the ends prevents the hair on the pin from loosening or escaping.’ (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2a)
If you have long hair, you can wave only about 12″ (30cm) of your hair.
Related: How To Make Your Hair Grow – Victorian & Edwardian Hair Care
And if you used a hairpin instead of the DIY wire curlers, secure it with a hair elastic. Then wave the next strand of hair.
‘If the hair is left on the pin all night, or some hours, no heat is necessary ; and when the pin is removed the wave will appear.
But if the hair is to be dressed immediately, some flat pincher-shaped irons – as used for curls en papillote – should be thoroughly heated, and the hair pressed firmly between them. [Do this only when you used copper wire curlers!] The pin can then be removed, and the wave is equally good. […]
Four pins should serve to wave the front and sides, and the back can be done in the same way if desired.’ (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2a)
Pin Waving Vs. Marcel Waving The Hair
‘I do not want ladies to think that this process – which needs no helper or maid – will give them the same appearance as a Marcel wave. It will not. But it will wave their hair […] [and] cannot possibly harm the hair; and they will produce a far more natural, wavy result than badly manipulated tongs or so-called “wavers.” Indeed, they offer the nearest home-made approach to a Marcel wave. ‘ (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2a)
It is ‘interesting and instructive to remember that in the days of Madame la Pompadour all waving was done on pins or en papillote, as marcel waving was then unknown. Therefore, the wave made on pins is far nearer the original Pompadour style than the marcel wave.’ (Every Woman’s Encyclopaedia, 1910-2b)
More Edwardian Hairstyles
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2 thoughts on “Edwardian Pin Curl Tutorial – No-Heat Zig-Zag Waves”
i tried this and it left my hair tightly curled and frizzy 🙁 i think i may have made my pins too narrow, hence the tightness of the curls. what width did you use for your pins?
That happened to me too when I first made these curls! 😉 My pins are between 1.2 and 1.4″ (3 and 3.5cm) wide. But you can make them even wider if you want. And after curling my hair, I usually don’t brush or comb the curls because this makes the hair frizzy: I simply spread the curls apart with my fingers (or use a wide tooth comb). Hope this helps! 🙂