HOW-TO: Hollywood Loves the Hot Retro Chic Hairstyle Trend

By Kelly Cison | 12/04/2011 5:38:00 PM


Retro chic hairstyles have been seen everywhere in Hollywood this year, and beauty pros in-the-know say they will be hot for celebs and salon clients alike in 2012. Styles like finger curls, seen on singer Natasha Bedingfield, are versatile enough to work on short or long hair, while victory rolls have often been seen worn with a punk-rock twist, like Rihanna’s electric red hair color.

Salon owner/lead stylist Nicholas Penna, Jr. of SalonCapri in Newton and Dedham, Massachusetts ( gives us the scoop about why these styles are making a comeback and how to give these looks a modern update for today.

MODERN: Why are these retro hairstyles making a comeback?
NICHOLAS PENNA: Like with all great trends, it seems that at one point or another, everything eventually comes back into style. Retro hairstyles evoke a sense of glamour and sophistication very different than the type of ’dos we see today. I think people are fascinated by the past (perfect example is the “Mad Men” style craze that we saw when the show launched) and they want to bring a piece of history back, in whatever form that they can. Hair is one of the easiest things to transition and because the styles that you create don't have to be permanent, it can be a great way to play with the past and bring to life iconic hairstyles.

MODERN: How do you put a modern twist on these styles?
NP: I think that hair is meant to be fun and that putting a modern twist on looks from the past is a great way to reinvent style history. For instance, we love the victory rolls, but it could be fun to incorporate them into a modern updo for a special occasion, instead of the conservative looks that were often associated with this style. I think for these retro looks to make a true comeback, people have to adapt them into today's style forecast.

MODERN: Do you see these retro styles being more formal or for everyday too?
NP: I think this depends on the person wearing the style. For many, rocking victory rolls or a beehive wouldn’t be something that they’d wear for work or even out on Saturday night. I think for the majority of people, these looks are great options for a special occasion—think New Year's Eve, a birthday bash or gala—and an updated beehive would pair perfectly with a formal dress. I do think that of all the retro styles making a comeback, the pin curls would be the most wearable for every day. Pin curls work great with long hair, worn down and short hair pinned back.

Here are Penna’s steps for his favorite retro chic hairstyles:

FINGER CURLS (worn by Natasha Bedingfield)
Glamorous and sexy, finger curls are making an appearance in both updos and romantic, loose looks this spring.

1. Begin look with a classic blow dry and apply shine serum to locks. Nick recommends L’Oréal Professionnel Expert Shine Perfection Anti-Frizz Serum.

2. Using a 1-inch curling iron, section off hair into 2-inch sections. Starting from the top of the head, clip hair in iron, hold down iron and release. Repeat until you reach the bottom of the hair.

3. Complete the same step through the hair until desired look is achieved.

4. Finish with light hold hairspray. Nick loves Shu Uemura’s Sheer Lacquer.






VICTORY ROLLS (worn by Rihanna)
The ultimate retro chic look!

1. Begin the look by curling all of the hair with a 1- or 2-inch barrel curling iron.

2. Apply a texturing mousse or cream through hair. Nick recommends L’Oréal Texture Expert Mousse Volupte.

3. Piece off a section of hair near the front (make sure hair is parted in the middle).

4. Using hairspray and a comb, tease this section of hair to create extra volume and texture.

5. Taking one half of the section of hair in the front you’ve teased, start to roll it in toward the part (move from back to front) and pin.

6. Repeat on other side of hair.

7. Finish look with secure hold hairspray.

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Kelly Cison Kelly Cison is a Chicago-based freelance writer specializing in beauty, style and wellness. As a MODERN SALON Media contributor, she writes trend and feature stories for both print and web. Her favorite beauty pick-me-ups: balayage color and hydrating facials. Contact her at


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harold Leighton    
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miami  |  December, 07, 2011 at 08:20 AM

in my opinion this hair is not what I personally would call nice tasteful or very proffessional don be Nicolas Penna Jr. I feel he needs some extra lessons from some of the great session hair icons that we see in your magazine monthly. sorry to be so critical, but sometimes we need to be truthful so that other younger hairdressers, maybe need to try harder with finish and style. One need to look back on the old movie hair and hairdresser Sydney Guilaroff

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Gulf Breeze, Fl  |  December, 08, 2011 at 06:20 AM

I love the looks but the step by step instructions are not very descriptive. "Starting from the top of the head, clip hair in iron, hold down iron and release. Repeat until you reach the bottom of the hair". I don't see how you could form a finger wave or even how one might attempt to by these instructions, just my opinion but I thought this article may give an updated option or something I may not have tried before.....

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california  |  December, 08, 2011 at 11:17 AM

i agree with both harold and cortney. i dont think that ither one of these 'do's are of great quality and the step by step instructions....."Take half of the section in front that you've teased, roll roll it toward the part (move from back to front) and pin?.......i thought it just told us to grab half the hair from front that we just teased....huh? i'm sure we can all figure ths out, but clearly, the instructions....are not.clear.

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