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Curl your hair Victorian-style

In Victorian days, girls and women always wore their hair long. Ringlets were very fashionable - see the curls in this 1849 portrait? (On the girl on the right, that is. The child on the left is a little boy.) Jemima and Lavinia both have corkscrew curls like these.

But neither perms nor electric hair tongs had been invented in 1841. So how did they do it?  

1. First tear up an old cloth into long strips about 5cm wide and 40cm long. (The longer your hair, the longer the rags need to be.)

2. Wash your hair.

3. While your hair is wet, divide it into sections. (As many sections as you want curls. You don't have to do all your hair. Women often had one or two curls on either side of their face, then put the rest up in a bun.)

4. Starting halfway along the rag, wind a section of your hair around the cloth in a spiral. Then wind the other half of the rag length over the top of that. Tie the rag ends tightly (or you could cheat a little and use elastic bands to hold them.)

5. Repeat until you have made as many curl 'sausages' as you want.

6. Leave your hair to dry. Then undo the rags and take them out carefully (don't brush madly). Arrange and enjoy!  

[Permission sought from State Library of NSW to use picture 'Stanley and Edith Spark']

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