The beehive first made hair history in the fabulous 50s. In the 60s, the bouffant grew bigger and more elaborate. Sassy waitress Flo sported the style in the 70s sitcom, Alice, pop stars The B-52’s were crowned with colorful beehives in the 80s, and blue-topped Marge Simpson took the style into the 90s and beyond. How did this unlikely style maintain its cultural status for so long? Read ahead and find out!

This large, free-standing hair style was achieved by shaping the hair into a rolled cone up-do in the shape of a beehive. The cotton-candy consistency of the hair was achieved by using copious amounts of hair spray, and backcombing the hair, also known as teasing. This combination of stickiness and sculpting made the hair higher, bigger, and able to be pulled and shaped at will.

This tangled mess of hair got larger and more elaborate as the 60s progressed. It was time consuming to create this mass of either tiny curls or a big single rolled cone – but worth every teased minute. It was also challenging hygienically, since once the fabulous ‘do was done, the hair couldn’t be washed out without ruining it. Girls went for weeks without washing their hair, sleeping with carefully placed nightcaps or with their heads hanging off the bed to avoid crushing their creation.

After decades of intensive hair work, scissors started to become popular ways of achieving style, rather than hairspray and teasing. Stylist Vidal Sassoon popularized the geometric bob cuts, heralding in the era of wash-n-go. But some women just couldn’t see giving up their weekly visits to the salon, and continued to have their hair professionally styled, enjoying the female camaraderie by salon devotees.

Once the beehive was on the decline, it was pretty much done for. Modern women no longer had time or inclination to make their hair defy gravity. If you’re looking to go for a retro-sixties look, though, check out our step by step guide for achieving the perfect bouffant:

What You Need:

1. Dirty hair: Let product and natural oils build up in your hair for a couple of days to more easily achieve a funky, gunked up look. If you can’t bear the thought of this, gunk up your clean hair with product.

2. Rattail comb/brush: this tool features bristles of different lengths to mat the hair into clumps. It also features a pointy end, to tease the hair from the inside up.

3. Lots of bobby pins: disclaimer – these will eventually get so gunked up by repeated use that they will no longer work.

4. A large can of ultra-hold hairspray: Aquanet is the choice of professionals, but any brand will do.

How To Style:

1. Divide hair into sections and tease each part, starting from the roots outward, until each part is a big, matted mess. For you young-uns, teasing is when you comb the hair from tip to root, encouraging tangles.

2. After the whole head is teased up, smooth all the clumps together to form a tower on top of the head. Smooth down the top layers to give the impression of silkyness, while moving in a spiral direction. Shape the resulting cone to your preference – the French twist with curls like waitress Flo, or the high and tube-like Marge Simpson style.

3. Use bobby pins liberally to keep the tower in place.

4. Empty a good portion of the hairspray can on said ‘do to encase the entire thing in a stiff layer of plastic.

You’re done! Grab your go-go boots and your chiffon swing dress and you’re ready to cut a rug, 60s style!

If you or someone you knew proudly sported a beehive back in the day, we’d love to hear all of your memories of this fashionable hairstyle in our comments section below.

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