Gene Tierney – Hair curling and styling tutorial

Gene Tierney – Hair curling and styling tutorial

Gene Eliza Tierney was an American film and stage actress and was acclaimed for her great beauty. Whilst she wasn’t known as a great actress, she was admired for her striking cheekbones and vivid green eyes. To get her signature curls, you do need to do a pin-curl wet or dry set. I’ve recently started to set my hair again so I thought I would share my tips and results from one of my favourite hairstyles. 

Gene Tierney setting pattern

As with most vintage hairstyles, a U-shaped cut is needed. I have learnt to cut mine on my own so I will be sharing that with you to help you do it yourself if you’re brave enough – or to show your hairdresser. As you can see from photographs of Gene Tierney, a deep side part is needed to start. My hair is just at shoulder length so you may get different results if yours is longer or shorter than mine. I would also note that you should use your favourite setting method – dry set, wet set and using your preferred products too.

For my set I used pin-curls held with standard kirby grips as I find it the most comfortable to sleep in. You can of course use rollers, but just pay attention to which way the rollers sit.

Setting the hair for Gene Tierney classic Hollywood waves

For this set I tried out Dippity-do setting gel – it was pretty convenient but I personally don’t think it worked well for me. I need something with a lot of oomph because my hair doesn’t hold a curl very well. The gel didn’t go crusty and my hair was soft so that’s a very big bonus. The hold for me wasn’t there but that could be the fact that we are in the middle of a heatwave. I’ll keep trying it out but I would usually end up using my usual setting lotion.

Step one: setting the hair on top of the head

To start get that deep side parting and on the side with the most hair pop in two rows of stand up curls that are rolled under. Remember to use your setting medium of choice. Make sure you comb thoroughly and ensure that the ends of your hair are neatly tucked in.

Each stand up curl is rolled under towards the bottom of your chin and the hair should be held straight and at a 90° angle for the top of the scalp and a 45° angle for the two curls to the side. Hold these in place using kirby grips or pin curl clips.

Step two: setting the hair on the side of the head

The next step is to pin curl the other side of your hair that has less hair on it.

A large flat pin curl is put in place and is rolled towards the face. Next take the rest of your hair and section into at least 4 standing pin curls – again these are rolled underneath toward the ears and should have the hair held straight from the head at at 45° angle.

Step three: setting the hair at the back of the head

We’re almost there! If you’re anything like me at this point your arms are getting pretty tired but the end is in sight.

Add two rows of flat pin curls on the back of the head – these need to be rolled towards the ears and held in place with kirby grips.

I find it easiest to section the hair vertically, then hold the top part of the hair our of the way (usually I use a scrunchie). Then section the bottom layer into your pin curls. Once you have done them all, take down your hair and do the top part.

A note for this section – make sure your curls are held lower on your head away from the crown. We don’t want any volume to the back of the head for Gene Tierney’s hollywood curls.

Step four: covering the hair with a headscarf.

This picture is to show you how the stand up curls should look at the end. It’s at this point that you need to add your favourite headscarf, head bonnet or hairnet to keep everything in place.

I usually do my pin curl sets before bed, which is why I only tend to use the clips on the top of my head. I get far too grumpy if I don’t get my beauty sleep so I choose comfort each and every time.

The brush-out process for Gene Tierney’s Hollywood curls

The brush-out is always the most important part of any setting routine. First of all you need to ensure that the hair is bone dry before you start. If it isn’t, your hard work will be undone as the curls instantly drop. Please make sure they are dry – I don’t want you to suffer the same heartache that I have. If they aren’t quite dry, you can either blast with a hairdryer on warm to start and then cool, or remove any pin curl clips and replace with bobby pins. Pop a scarf on and go about your day. I have actually done this many a time – particularly when I have an event after work. A bright headscarf is eye-catching and fun and I’ve always gotten complements on it.

Take your time with this step – if you don’t brush through at all, you will have separated curls which can look lovely but it isn’t the look we are aiming for. If you start brushing through and stop you can get frizz. Don’t panic – keep brushing and everything will be okay!

Step One – Removing the pins from the back and bottom of the head

My first step is to always begin with the back and bottom of my hair. I just find it easier to brush and sculpt in a particular direction when I go through my curls section by section. Remove all of the pins and gently unravel each one.

Ensure that you have all of the pins out before you start brushing – it’s quite painful to pull your hair out using your brush.

Step Two – Brushing out the bottom part of the hair

Now that we have removed all of the pins, take your hairbrush (I use this Denman one) and start to brush through the curls. I like to start from the bottom of my hair as it can be difficult to start with.

Use your hand to shape the curls and brush in the direction that you want them to sit. Gene Tierney’s hair has soft waves to the bottom, so ensure that you are maneuvering the curls to move away from the face.

This step can feel a bit daunting – in fact, I always end up having a bit of a panic at this point because my hair seems to go very frizzy. Keep brushing, and everything will start to come together over time.

Step Three – Creating volume on the top of the head

As I mentioned earlier on, my hair is fine so I like to get as much volume as possible on the top of my head. To get that swoop on the top of the head I take the top section of hair from the largest amount from my parting and brush at a 90° angle towards the ceiling in a backwards motion.

This creates a volume and allows the hair to sit just right. It’s a really flattering way to wear your hair, and is one of my favourite methods to get some volume.

As with brushing the other sections, you will start with frizz but as you continue to brush the hair will start to come together quite nicely.

Step Four – Spritz with hairspray to hold

Once you’re happy with how your hair is sitting, lighty spritz hairspray all over your hair and gently pat in to ensure it’s not super crusty. You can also add a pomade to your ends if you feel they are too frizzy still – I sometimes do this myself but with this set my hair rarely needs it.

I always add a light mist of hairspray for hold – this for me is a step that I never skip.

The Results of the Gene Tierney hair set

My thoughts on this setting pattern

When you first look at a setting pattern guide, it can look scary but it really is a case of practicing. Getting the right setting medium is a key part of making it work. Everyone has different hair types and needs – it took me many tries of using different methods until I found the one that worked for me.

Having said that, I love how this pattern turned out. I hadn’t set my hair in a while when I did this, so I was relieved to see that I still had “it”.

I felt beautiful with the Gene Tierney Hollywood curls, so I will definitely be using this setting pattern on a regular basis.

That’s the end of my tutorial – what do you think? Let me know in the comments and send me some pictures if you give this set a try.

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