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.
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.