V246: My Regency Papillote Curls

After seeing this wonderful little video on how to use your flatiron and tissue paper to make 18th century and Regency “papillote” curls, I was itching to give it a try…

 So when it came time to play Regency dress up, I cut my tissue paper triangles, plugged in the iron, and separated out the front of my hair for what I hoped would be wonderful Regency style spiral curls.

It took a couple tried to get the hang of how to wrap up the papillotes.  I think my tissue paper triangles were a little large.  I cheated and used some hair clips to keep them in place, as the papers wanted to fall off my slick hair.

After the whole front was wrapped up, I gave them each a press with the iron.  They do indeed get quite hot!  After cooling completely, I pulled off each of the papers and was happy to see curls…

Until I lightly brushed them out, then it all went horribly wrong.

Out came the curling iron, and I re-curled each of the strands, clipping the rolls against my head until they cooled, essentially exactly the same thing as achieved with the papillote papers.  In the end, my hair *still* didn’t really curl, but it’s not the papillotes’ faults, really -I have *special needs hair.*

Thanks for the little consolation curl at the end, papillotes!


  • Liz

    September 2, 2012 at 11:32 PM

    My hair is really fine and has a hard time holding a curl. I learned a neat trick. Get some of the dry shampoo spray, lightly spray it and comb through your hair and it will give it enough body to really hold curls.

  • A Baronets Daughter

    September 2, 2012 at 11:41 PM

    i love that you did this!! I want to go home and try them out now! but, alas i have many things to do before i can play..thanks for this tho! I can't wait to try it!

  • Trystan L. Bass

    September 3, 2012 at 12:27 AM

    Something I think we modern people tend to forget when reproducing historical hairstyles is (a) people didn't wash their hair every single day until very, very recently (say, within the past 50 years or less & only in the U.S.), & (b) since the dawn of time, people have used all kinds of hair-styling products to help their hair hold different styles.

    The very modern concept of squeaky-clean hair isn't necessarily healthier for hair (do a web-search on "no poo method hair" meaning "no shampoo" for details), & super-clean hair is definitely harder to get into elaborate styles.

    A combination of waiting at least one day after washing & using liberal amounts of styling products — & experimenting to find out what styling products work with your hair & with what style you want to achieve — will make it infinitely easier to achieve amazing historical hair fashions with any texture of hair.

  • Iron Chef Kosher!

    September 3, 2012 at 1:16 AM

    I wonder what the modern equivalent of "sugar water" would be. My hair is very straight – nothing makes it curl. Not even hair spray before I put it up in curlers.

  • unicornemporium

    September 3, 2012 at 4:38 AM

    I also have thin, fine hair, but I have colored mine for years and it does give it more texture which helps hold a curl. Right now I have extensions in my hair making it pretty long. I'll have to try out this method!

  • Lynn Brooks

    September 3, 2012 at 5:26 PM

    I cosign with Trystan on letting the hair get some dirt on it. I always forbid clients from washing thier hair on days they are getting uyp-dos.

    Also it helps if you put styling product in your hair whenb it's wet (gel, mousse, setting lotion, etc). Do this a day or 2 before you need to curl it. Then use a really strong setting spray before applying heat. I found one of the best ones for fine/ hard to curl hair is Hot Sets22 by Redken.

    Sometimes on the really difficult jobs I would double curl a client. I would set the hair on hot rollers spraying each section with hot sets 22, then after the rollers came out I would re curl the hair with a curling iron and more hot sets, usually worked like a charm.

    if you have to curl your hair on a fairly regular basis for costuming and vintage stuff, it may be worth it to invest in a perm. Perms don't have to be tight kinky things, even a loose perm done on large rods will help your hair take a curl better and get your curls to last longer.

  • Isis

    September 3, 2012 at 5:30 PM

    My hair don't take heat produce curls at all- they go out at once, but I talked with a girl recently who had had her hair curled with a flat iron andthey kept fot 3 days! So I think it's very much up to the individual hair…

  • Cami Lynn

    September 3, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    Cami here from randomobsessionsofcami.blogspot.com
    I have really fine hair too and it NEVER wants to hold a curl.. until! I found this really amazing stuff at sally's beauty supply Lottabody setting lotion.
    It's REALLY concentrated you have to dilute it (i diluted mine more than the bottle said and it still gave me a REALLY stiff curl) you don't need much of it and it's only $4.50 a bottle!
    Of course it's not very "Authentic" but well if you want a good curl!!
    Really enjoy reading your blog! Keep up the good work!

    • Lauren Stowell

      September 5, 2012 at 11:47 PM

      Hi Rosie – now that I can definitely answer. Hair pieces are the way for you – lots of them – or if your hair is a pixie cut, then I recommend a lace-front wig, if you cannot blend any of your own hair up into a hair piece. It will take experimentation to find out how to work with the hair pieces, but I can recommend giving the front of your hair some curl – with an iron, or maybe try this method, or wet-set on curlers – before working teasing it or working it into the front of a half-wig, etc. I also recommend Osis "Dust It" hair powder.

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