How Beehive Hairdos Worked

How to Create a Beehive Hairdo

A stylist teases a model's hair.
A stylist teases a model's hair.
Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

The trick to creating a beehive hairdo is a technique known as backcombing, or teasing. Instead of combing hair from root to tip, backcombing involves combing hair towards the roots, or in the opposite direction of the way it grows. Regular combing smoothes the hair so it lies flat; backcombing or teasing the hair makes it bunch up, which creates a base for an elevated style.

Beehives work best on hair that's at least shoulder-length, and hair should be completely dry -- no residual dampness from a shower. In fact, you may want to wait an entire day after washing hair to create a beehive, as it's a style that doesn't require newly clean hair. Curly hair should be straightened before attempting a beehive, and if you use a straightening iron for this task, be sure that your hair has completely cooled before beginning to tease it. These precautions are necessary because backcombing can be somewhat stressful and damaging to hair, and wet or hot hair will only exacerbate that damage.


To build a beehive, take a small section of hair, about 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters), and tease it by making short strokes toward the scalp. You can use a fine-toothed comb or a bristle brush for this task, and you may have to experiment with various types of combs and brushes to find the one that works best with your hair. You can backcomb the hair until it reaches whatever height you'd like; there should still be some unteased hair left that will be styled later. Apply hairspray to this small section of hair, and then take up another section of hair and repeat the process. It's important to use the same type of short strokes each time in order to create a uniform height. Once all the sections are teased, take the comb or your hands and gently smooth the top of the hair without crushing the height, and then twist the excess hair that wasn't backcombed into a chignon. The extra hair could also be styled into a ponytail, or curled on top of the head. Then apply hairspray liberally to keep all that hair in place!

As we mentioned, teasing your beehive can mean damaging your locks, so you may want to save this hairstyle for special occasions. A beehive may last a few days if you're careful, but when it's time to change your style, carefully comb and detangle the teased hair.

Want to stay as fashionable in your reading as you do with your hair? Peruse the links below.

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  • Abraham, Tamara. "Oh, do beehive! Meet the woman who created a buzz by inventing Sixties hairdo." The Daily Mail. Jan. 10, 2011. (Aug. 8, 2011)
  • Graham, David. "The beehive gets buzz." Toronto Star. Jan. 22, 2011. (Aug. 17, 2011)
  • Harbers, Malena. "The big tease: Holiday hair gets a much-needed boost." Toronto Star. Dec. 2, 2010. (Aug. 17, 2011)
  • Kavanagh, Gail. "The Care and Maintenance of a Beehive." Rewind the Fifties. (Aug. 8, 2011)
  • Mannion, Annemarie. "Beehive style lands Elmhurst woman a place in fashion history." Trib Local Elmhurst. Dec. 30, 2010. (Aug. 8, 2011)
  • Mikkelson, Barbara and David P. "Tressed to Kill." July 8, 2006. (Aug. 8, 2011)
  • Saint Louis, Catherine. "A '60s Bee Updates Its Hive." The New York Times. Aug. 26, 2010. (Aug. 8, 2011)
  • Sewing, Joy. "Big Hair is a Big Hit Again." Houston Chronicle. June 19, 2008. (Aug. 8, 2011)
  • Shelton, Karen Marie. "Backcombed Hairstyling Tips." Hair Boutique. Jan. 30, 2009. (Aug. 8, 2011)
  • Sherrow, Victoria. "Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History." Greenwood Publishing Group. 2006. (Aug. 8, 2011)
  • Solomon, Deborah. "Screen Dreams." The New York Times. July 22, 2007. (Aug. 8, 2011)
  • Wellington, Elizabeth. "Hair with Altitude." The Philadelphia Inquirer. April 21, 2010. (Aug. 8, 2011)