How To Style A Bouffant With Short Hair

Mad Men” has made me obsessed with the vintage bouffant hairstyle. While it looks like you need a lot of hair to achieve the super huge look, it’s actually not so much about the length of your hair as it is the volume, and how to create it. If you have chin-length hair like I do, and want to get the ’60s-inspired style, check out my DIY instructions after the jump! You will need:

  • A comb or bristly brush. A teasing comb is even better, but if you don’t want to spend the money, a regular comb will do just fine
  • 5-8 bobby pins
  • 1 small jaw clip (the ones with three interlocking teeth that are usually about 3.5 cm thick)
  • A really good hairspray. I prefer Logics Creative Fix Finishing Spray [$16.99, Discount Beauty Center]
  1. Before you begin, know that the best way to style a bouffant is actually with slightly dirty hair, so if you washed your hair the day before, you’re golden. Otherwise, blow-dry your hair upside down, smoothing it with a paddle brush (optional: apply a bit of mousse to roots when wet). An extra measure to ensure super volume, which isn’t necessary, but good if you have the time: once your hair is very nearly dry, take three velcro rollers and roll sections of your hair back—one at your hairline, one at the top of your head, and one slightly below the crown—so that you create a row of rollers. On a low setting, take your blow dryer to them (the heat will help curl the hair). Spray lightly with hairspray, and blow-dry briefly again. Leave the rollers in for about 10-15 minutes so that your hair sets.
  2. To create volume, you’ll need to tease sections of your hair. Leaving the very front section of your hair (or bangs) out, begin by extending a section of hair above your head and running your comb up and down the hair shaft to create matting near the root. (If you feel a comb is too harsh on your hair, and you want to create a more relaxed, soft look, do a looser tease with a paddle brush.) Because your hair is short, you won’t want to go too crazy with the teasing because you’ll still need to be able to pull it back slightly. Tease sections in the center of your head. Don’t forget to neglect the back area (about where a high ponytail would sit if you had long hair). Spray the matted area lightly, near the roots. And yes, by now you probably look like you just stuck your finger in a light socket.
  3. With your comb, gently smooth back the top layer, being careful not to disturb the matted area underneath. Your top layer probably isn’t going to be super smooth, so don’t obsess with that. What you want is to cover the teased hair as gently as possible so you don’t subtract any of the volume you’ve created.
  4. Feeling with your hands to join the top sides of your hair as close to the back of your head, or wherever your teased hair has ended, secure with bobby pins. Start by slightly twisting the hair in your fingers while pushing a bobby pin up into the center of the hairy mess. Secure top sides with two more bobby pins. Spray the crap out of it so it stays.
  5. Now, to deal with the bottom part of your hair that isn’t teased. You can’t quite do a ponytail because it will look like a short, hairy stump. Smooth the sides of your hair back as if you were to make a ponytail, twisting the end slightly and securing with jaw clip. Tip: the jaw clip can be good for maneuvering the upper portion of your hair, too, or supporting it. The closer you can get it to the teased section, the more it will physically support the lift and volume. For pieces that fall out at the sides, loosely twist, securing by pushing bobby pins up into the barrel of the twist (so you don’t have a million flat bobby pins against the side of your head—this way, they’re invisible!). Spray the whole shebang again.
  6. What you want to do with the lose front section is up to you. A middle part that stays wispy is very Brigitte Bardot. Swipe it to the side, and keep flat for something more classic. And you can always comb it back so you have no part, either. Up to you!