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What is a Beehive Hairstyle?

Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke

A beehive hairstyle, also known as a bouffant, refers to a round or slightly pointed hair design in which the hair is manipulated to be tall and voluminous, then assembled on the highest area on the back of the head. Its name stems from its shape, which is similar to the rounded roof on beehive houses. This hairstyle originated in the 1960s and was typically worn by Western women.

An American hairstylist named Margaret Vinci Heldt is credited as the creator of the beehive hairstyle. In 1960, Heldt experimented with the style in an attempt to come up with a unique style for a beauty magazine photo spread. Once the photographs were published, other hairstylists began to recreate the hairdo for their clients. During the rest of the decade, the hairstyle began to become more mainstream for American and other Western women.

Large amounts of hairspray are needed to create a beehive hairstyle.
Large amounts of hairspray are needed to create a beehive hairstyle.

A beehive hairstyle is generally formed by first horizontally dividing the back of the hair. The top section is typically pinned up while the bottom section is styled in order for the stylist to be able to clearly see what he or she is doing. The bottom section is usually horizontally swept to one side of the head, then tightly rolled back toward the head and pinned into place. Once the base of the hair is secured, the reserved top portion is combed upward in order to become voluminous before being combed back and away from the face. Bobby pins or hairspray may be necessary to keep the ends of top section of hair in place.

During the 1960s, it was not generally out of the ordinary for a Western woman to choose hairstyles that required long styling time and constant upkeep. Depending on a person’s proficiency in creating a beehive hairstyle, it could take up to two hours to complete it. If the style was properly secured, a woman would be able to keep it in place for multiple days, as long as she was careful to sleep without causing it to come out.

Once the 1970s approached, the fashion and beauty trends for Western women began to move away from the more formal, high maintenance styles. The trends, especially for hairstyles, tended to be more relaxed and low maintenance and it was no longer commonplace for a woman to spend hours on a stiff, complicated hairstyle. Younger women especially began to embrace wearing their hair down and loose instead of in the more structured beehive.

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Discussion Comments


I realize that this hairstyle is highly associated with one certain time period, but I think that it is elegant even today. If I have a formal even to attend, I am not afraid to sport a beehive along with my ballgown.

I have long hair, so I can achieve a pretty big beehive. The longer your hair, the higher you can go with it, since there is more to twist and tuck.

I have gotten a few snide comments and snickers for my choice of formal hairstyle, but I refuse to let that stop me. This is my favorite hairstyle, and if it was good enough for my mother and many other elegant ladies at one time, then it is good enough for me.


@Perdido – I think that several people probably use falls to create a regular beehive, also. Many of them just don't have the time it takes to sit around and have their hair twisted and teased.

I did have a stylist make a beehive for me for Halloween one year. I couldn't see what all she was doing back there, but I can tell you that I had a lot of bobby pins and hairspray to get out of my hair afterward. It was a tangled mess!

It would have been much easier for her to have used a fall. I guess she felt it might be cheating, since she wanted to showcase her skills.


When I think of the beehive hairstyle, I think of what I call the half beehive. Many girls have been wearing this style to prom. My best friend is a hairstylist, and she gets a lot of requests for this formal partial updo.

She uses what is called a “fall” to assist her in creating this hairstyle. It's basically a piece of rubber or foam with teeth on one side. It is slid into the base of the hair, which is then folded over the top of it to create high volume.

There are different heights of falls, so a girl has a choice on how extreme she wants her half beehive to be. The bottom of her hair that hangs down can either be straightened or curled for elegance.


I am clueless about how to make a beehive hairstyle, but I imagine my aunts could tell me. I have a photo of three of them taken in the 1960s, and all three have beehives!

What adds to the photo is that all three of them are also pregnant. So, it is quite a sight to see three ladies with big round bellies and big round beehive hairstyles on top of their heads!

I guess they just wanted to be trendy. Personally, I can't imagine that having my hair piled up and secured that tightly would be comfortable at all. I really can't fathom spending two hours in a salon chair for it!

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    • Large amounts of hairspray are needed to create a beehive hairstyle.
      By: m_dinler
      Large amounts of hairspray are needed to create a beehive hairstyle.