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History of the Beehive

by Kathie Rothkop


Hairstyles come and go throughout the decades. Some make a mark in history and others fade into oblivion never to be thought of again. The bouffant surfaced in the late 1950s and started a new trend of styling that will forever be looked back upon with a smile and curiosity.

To create these styles, hair was wound around rollers that produced a fuller rounder look than the flat pin curls of the previous decades. The client was then placed under a hooded dryer and, depending on the length of her hair, she might sit there for an hour. After drying, the hair was "teased" or "backcombed" to give it maximum height. This conglomeration was held together with a new retail product called aerosol hairspray. The main ingredients were alcohol and lacquer. By 1964, hairspray soon became the number one beauty aid, far surpassing lipstick. Some stylists would make their own concoction of water and sugar, and used this as a final spray on fancy hairstyles. Hairdressers that Beehive 1worked during that time period talk about how sticky the floor was at the end of the day. The lacquer from the hairspray would be all over their skin and clothes.

Friday hair appointments were a valuable reservation, since it guaranteed perfect hair for weekend social engagements. Beauticians aspired to book as many "standing" appointments weekly, to ensure a steady income. The beauty parlor became a social affair and women would cancel dental and doctor appointments, but NEVER their hair. Some of Beehive 3the most beautiful hairstyling came from this time period and was truly a work of art. To preserve these styles, women would wrap toilet paper around their heads before bedtime. They purchased satin pillowcases to allow their hair to "slide" on the pillow and not crumple their much sought after styles. The windows were never rolled down in the car and heaven forbid you should be asked to attend a swim party.

Around 1964, high school girls took the bouffant to new heights. It was called the "beehive". Girls would set their hair every night in huge rollers, with a gel solution called Dippity Do and proceed to sleep in them. Girls with extremely curly hair would collect large frozen grapefruit cans andBeehive use those in place of the smaller rollers. Any woman who went to high school between 1963 and 1967 will tell you they probably never had a good night's sleep!

Hairpieces became a component to add to your beehive to make it even bigger. Postiches, cascades, and falls were worn with adornment to add a quick fix to hairstyles. Synthetic hair surfaced and was name tagged Dynel. A woman would go to a wig or department store and a wig technician would blend the Beehive 6Dynel to match their own. It was then braided, wound around a stuffing, and pinned on top of the head. It was a big fashion rage in 1966.

A famous Urban Legend surfaced at this laughable time in hair history. A high school girl had the biggest hair style in school. She would sit in class and use her pencil point to itch inside her hairdo. Unknown to her, lurking inside this massive hairstyle was a black widow's nest. She poked the spider with her penciBeehive 7l, it bit her, and she died from the bite in history class!

Beehive 5The late fashion designer, Bill Blass, had a saying on how to stay current in life: "The secret of living is not staying too long. I know when to leave the party." This can certainly pertain to your hairstyle. If you are still going to bed in rollers, it may be time to experience another party!

Copyright by Kathie Rothkop of Hairrific. Reprinted at, February 2003, with permission. recommends the following books from


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