Lolita Hairstyles: Ode to the Spiral Curl

One of my favorite Lolita hairstyles is the spiral curl, or ringlet. It's used to be one of Lolita's must have looks, but now it's nearly never seen. Which is understandable, it is very hard to pull off without looking like a Little Bo Peep cartoon and it's even harder to maintain if you do pull it off. One little slip-up and you can end up pulling your perfect curls apart never to be able to get them back together without busting out the curling iron yet again.

I can't really decide what I love most about the look, perhaps because it is a perfect example of the porcelain doll aspect of the Lolita aesthetic, or the wave of nostalgia I have whenever I see them, reminding me of a time when Lolita was still new to me and I would have given anything to get my hair to behave in such a manner.

The most classic spiral curl for Lolitas is the tight, highly styled spiral curl. These are typically perfect looking. Shiny strips of perfectly flattened hair curled into an impeccable spiral and held that way with lots and lots of hair spray. Or, probably more often than not, a very well cared for wig. This is the most "doll like" of the spiral curl, for it's perfect and near artificial look. Often seen down, but also in a pair of pigtails, this style is more suited for Classic Lolita, Gothic Lolita, or any kind of old school style.


Another variation on these curls is the "form all the curls into big curls". In which, you guessed it, you carefully form all the curls into a couple big curls. You most often see this with 2 big curls, either in ponytails or worn down with one across each shoulder, but you can have more if you feel like it. This kind of spiral curl can easily go with any of the Lolita sub-styles and makes a good, toned down alternative, for the big huge pigtails that are so prevalent in Sweet Lolita. It's much lighter on maintenance too. So long as your hair can hold a curl you need not worry too much about this getting stuck on long fingernails, buttons, headbands, or anything else that might get too close to your head as you can easily reform the curl so long as it still has some spring back in it.

One other variation is to soften up the curls a bit by going easy on the hair spray and fluffing them with your fingers. It creates a much softer and fluffier curl that is also relatively light on maintenance, since you can easily hide any accidental unravelings in the volume of the hair. This is another variation that can easily go with any of the sub-styles. As seen in the pictures below, it's perfect for hair that's too short for the other versions of the spiral curl.

How do you get these perfect curls you ask? There are a number of ways, the easiest is definitely to get a wig or a pair of clip-in extensions. You don't have to spend a couple hours carefully balancing a hot curling iron over your head to get those hard-to-reach spots, all you have to do is tuck your real hair up and pop on a wig. These curls are also pretty much never going to go flat, they'll always remain springy and perky.
Bodyline sells a rather nice looking spiral curl wig in a variety of colors. I'm seriously considering getting the reddish brown one!

You can also style your own hair by using a very thin curling iron and a whole lot of hairspray. I can't tell you the best thing to do for your type of hair, but typically what you want to do is start off with a very thin curling iron, work with small sections of hair, hold the iron vertically and gently shake the curls off of it once they are set, then spray it with hair spray. There are tons of tutorials and videos about this online for lots of different kinds of hair, so look around and experiment to find the best one for you and your hair!

I know these curls are either a love-it-or-hate-it sort of thing, but I can't help loving them, I have to admit I even like the ultra-shiny fake looking ones. But what do you think? Is it a trend you wish would come back? Or do you cringe every time you see them?

21 comments:

  1. I wish it would come back, I love ringlets. Victorian fashion got me into Lolita, so my love for ringlets comes from that.

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  2. Oh my gosh "ringlets' XD I could NOT think of that name, thank you for pointing that out to me.

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  3. I love ringlets! The doll look (in anything, not just hair) is something I try to capture whenever I can. Sadly I think my hair is a bit too long to fit under a wig...and I'm nervous of heating my hair, but I might keep trying to experiment with paper curls and see if I can get a similar-ish effect.
    You've made me realize I must not give up on the curls! :D

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  4. Yessss! I've been wanting to try out the ringlet hair style for a while...but my hair can't hold a curl. Therefore, I must resort to a nice heat-resistant wig. The bodyline wig also caught my interest a while back, but I wasn't sure. If you do purchase it I'd love to see pictures of it on you :3

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  5. Hhahahah, I win. My hair does this at the ends naturally. ;D Especially if I get my mousse in juuuust right.

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  6. I also love that hairstyle. <33 As I'm a short-haired loli I might be getting a wig some day...

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  7. I love curls :)
    I don't like wearing wigs, and I'm trying to grow my hair really long so I don't want to heat damage it using curling tongs so instead I pin curl my hair :)

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  8. I like curls-mostly because my hair is naturally very curly and forms messy ringlets by itself (they'd look better if I anti-frizzed them...) and I am of the firm opinion that you should love your own hair. Not that having wigs is bad, and if you have them and love them, hey, that is fine, they are just not really for me. I am getting my hair cut short soon, so we'll see how my opinion changed.

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  9. I love this hairstyle, but I hate it on most wigs - the shininess really detracts from it for me. Like that Bodyline wig...::shudder:: it looks horrible to me! The brown looks like it might be acceptable with a headdress on top covering the top of it, but even then...so shiny! T_T

    I think I love this hairstyle because it really screams "put a headdress on me!" and I love headdresses, even though they're so not popular anymore!

    But whenever I see this hairstyle it reminds me of a wig from Zephyr I used to have and a very bad hairstyle with a headdress and this hairstyle...it looked so bad on me! XD But soooo old school lolita.

    I'm not sure though, that shorter haired one you posted looks more like pin curls to me than spiral curls. Am I wrong? Or are those considered variations on the same thing? I've always considered them as separate.

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  10. Ohhhh no lol... i'm sorry, but one nay here :(. Then again i've always liked my lolita styles simple, and this is quite an intense hairstyle so I guess that would be why.

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  11. I often style my hair into ringlets when doing hardcore gothic lolita, lol. It takes about an hour and a half for me, plus a ton of hairspray to keep them from unrolling.

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  12. ringlets are <3 but they just take too much time and a lot of hairsprays especially for long hairs. but anyways, i still love them. teehee

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  13. Making curls takes sooo long, but I still prefer doing them than a wig ^-^;

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  14. Haha, aww, I have to admit I sort of like the shininess (although maybe not so much as in the pic up there from Baby's blog), it makes it look much more artificial and doll-like. But that's probably just my inner old school ita urging me, once again, to like ridiculous things XD

    You might be correct in that they are pin curls! Although I thought pincurls were for very short hair? I honestly couldn't find a good example in the GLBs I was going through of what I was talking about. People seem to do it more in real life than in photoshoots.

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  15. Not necessary, pin curls can be done on moderately short hair...I was never very good at making perfect ones, but a few years ago I wore them a few times. You can see it here:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/theosakakoneko/392917184/
    I think my hair is close to the same length as the ones you show above and kinda a similar effect, just not as professional! XD

    I found a picture of my awful spiral wig while I was looking for this, so I'll inflict that upon you too! lol
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/theosakakoneko/4567184922
    So shiny and unflattering!

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  16. The best way I have found to get these curls is to use a legit Victorian rag method that's a little different than the usual rag curls. Basically take a long strip of fabric, about 2 feet long and 3-6 inches wide depending on the length of hair and width of curl. Hold the middle of the strip at the root of your hair and wind a smallish piece of hair that is slightly damp around the bottom half of the strip. Then take the upper half of the strip and wind that over the already wound hair. Make sure the hair ends are covered well and tie the two fabric ends in a knot at the bottom. It should look like a fabric sausage hanging from your head. Kinda confusing and hard to get a hang of, but it works much better than rolling the hair from the bottom up(like a normal curler) because the hair dries in the ringlet shape. Let it dry overnight, sometimes you can get away with a couple hours. I don't even have to use hairspray and have stick straight hair!!

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  17. If paper curls are the same as rag curls, as in you tie your hair into knots with the help of rags/paper, it will probably work! My hair does not hold a curl but it can hold a head of rag curls for 2 days, those things are amazing.

    I also have rather long hair and unless yours is extra thick it's not terribly hard to keep it all under a wig, you basically just need a wig cap and a whole lot of bobby pins. There are a few tutorials online on how to keep very long hair under a wig.

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  18. I wish i can find a tutorial that show how to do this curls. All i can find always make very thin rag. I want those thight but large spiral curl. those the amount of haire use to do the rag will make them look more bigger ? Or should I use more fabric to creat a larger hole in the rag. If you can answetr this please tell me !

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  19. Big curls are most likely done with an electric curling iron or foam curlers and not a rag roll. While a lot more fabric might help, it might look a bit messy. I use a curling iron and it gives fairly large curls!

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  20. I like the oldschool lolita curls(I think the GLBibles called it "tate roll") (^.^) I prefer my hair long(its what I've known most my life), but I still get a bit jealous of the shorter style of curls. Reminds me of cherubs I guess, which then makes me think of wee Claudia. Either a wee demon or a wee angel, depending on style. I got my hime fringe cut in(by hairdressing students at college, it was cheaper) too far back(as in almost to back of my head) some years ago(after growing my fringe out to let my spotty forehead breath). I'm in the process of thinning it out, in order for tiara to sit right position wise. So, I now have accidental Amane Misa looking pigtails in, to separate what is growing out from my fringe. I got bored of the pigtails, and wanted a different look. So, whilst its still short I ragged the pulled back side bits of hair, about three or four times some months back. I used that rageaze stuff, after some weeks of procrastinating at the hairstyling bit in Claire's(5.99 seemed a lot to me for what they are). It created about four or five curls each side, which turned out rather nice and corkscrew looking. Supposedly, the fancy rags only need an hour, but I left them in all night to be safe. Though, whatevers in the rageaze,,,I'd like to buy as a spray (T_T) as, when the side bits of hair get longer, the rageaze will get too short(since I wrap the hair around the rag, then pull the rest over the end of the hair, wrapping it back up and over the hair/curls to encase it, then tie the ends that meet at the top). So, I'd have to make my own rags for my hair(as they need to be twice the length of the hair) and use a liquid spray of some sort. I'll never go back to the curling tongs, too damaging on the hair,,,and my fingers (>.>) and I need my fingers for drawing XD blisters are no fun when trying to hold mecha' pencils, especially when burst and drained and raw(there was a time that nothing could stop me from drawing). I also find that tong styled curls drop too quickly in my hair, and aren't as tight as rag curls either. Anyways, I wish these types of curls would come back, but sometimes I worry that they've picked up negative connotations over the years or something. As most early lolita stuff got stereotyped and adopted by cosplayers as far as I'm aware. Maybe thats why some things fade out as trends, because it becomes an ita stereotype after a certain amount of years? (o.O)

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