Monday, April 22, 2013

Backcombing: It looks great but what will it do to my hair?

One of my lovely Tumblr followers difference-is-gr8 asked me for some advice about backcombing (or teasing). Though it does look fabulous, can give you dollies a really authentic 60's look as well as open up a whole new world of brilliant hairstyles there are some realities about it that aren't what you'd hope for. Unfortunately you could almost call this a situation where you can't have your cake and eat it too. 

Yes, frequent backcombing can damage your hair. Dragging the comb backwards against the hair weakens it, making it brittle. Eventually the hairs will weaken to the point where there is frequent breakage. And of course, all of you dollies who have tried it will know that backcombing can create A LOT of knots in your hair, especially near the root where they can be very difficult to remove. Trying to untangle this nest of nasty knots weakens, breaks and pulls hairs out. Frequent application of hairspray, which most often goes hand in hand with backcombing, also has its disadvantages. It works to dry your hair out and clump it together, making it difficult to comb out. This also creates knots which as mentioned previously damage hair.

However, if you care for you hair properly you can reduce the damage that backcombing (and hair spray) can cause. For starters, never never NEVER go to bed or hop in the shower (unless you're wearing a shower cap) without combing it out first. Though a lot of girls would leave their teasing in for a few days back in the 60's by wearing a snood or curler cap to bed, I would not recommend it. When brushing out the knots I personally find it easier as well as less painful to use a paddle brush with beads on the end of the bristles. Believe it or not, much more effective than trying to use a comb. Whilst in the process of backcombing try and use gentle strokes rather than big, forceful strokes that travel through large portions of hair at a time. Though this will take longer, it will not damage your hair as much and it will also make the backcombing appear neater.

If you have worn hairspray that day or night, make sure that you wash it at as soon as you get the opportunity to do so with a good conditioner to help strengthen your hair. Investing in a better quality hairspray can also help protect your hair.

Another way to help reduce damage caused by backcombing is of course to not do it so much. Have a look at some other types of hairstyles that were present within the 60's. There is so much out there. Take inspiration from your favourite 60's dolly. Though if you want that height that backcombing so fabulously creates, there are alternative ways of achieving it. What they call "Quiff Combs" are now available in some hair and accessory stores. I personally feel these don't work for me. But they could for you! There are other methods where you create a  bun at the upper back of your head and cover it with hair from the top of your head and fastening it at the back with pins.

"Quiff Comb"

Images (1. 2.)


  1. This is a really good post, I always get people commenting on my hair when is teased but as soon as I go out with my hair flat I get the same ones asking why I didn't tease and that I should do it all the time because it looks nice. What they don't understand is that if I did it all the time I wouldn't have half of the amount of hair I have. It's so fine and breaks so easily. I gave a long break so my hair is healthy again. A good tip is the umberto giannini hairspray "backcomb in a bottle"; it gives a really good volume without teasing or a massive volume if you tease a little bit! xxx

    1. I completely understand. I do the same. I give my hair a good long break without any teasing, knotting or product. It's so unfortunate because it is such a great look. That hairspray sounds incredible though! Must try! xx