Monday, February 27, 2012

Hair Rats And You

I have achieved real, ultimate, hair height! Here's a picture of me, channeling my beloved Priscilla Presley, before having some people over to watch Bringing Up Baby on the screen in front of which I'm standing. The sanguine, satisfied look on my face in the picture to the right, as well as the "Oh, yes! Who me?" look on the left, comes from the knowledge that after twenty six years on this planet, my hairdo is actually nearing the height to which it aspires! A couple more test runs, and I am joining a B-52s cover band.

Do you know the power of the hair rat? Both of these hairstyles! Attainable!

(Source, source)
Now, it initially sounded weird to me in a Victorian-short-story-sign-of-madness (along with keeping dead flies in a jar or scraping wallpaper off with your bare hands) to harness the power of the hair that collects in the back of your brush towards a higher use. Some people in the comments on this tutorial (one of the better explanations of WHY someone would use real hair to prop up real hair) straight disavowed the practice altogether. "Interesting article on how things used to be done, but I am one of those people who find using my old shedded hair for a rat simply disgusting. Ew." I'm telling you, from someone who has tried bump-it's, foam pieces, and everything else under the sun, using your own hair is the way to go. The color's perfectly matched, so if it shows through a little from under the section you've used to camouflage it, so what?

Materials needed: Lots of bobby pins, a good brush, lots of hair, and patience.

  1. Collect hair from hair brushes over a period of several weeks. Try not to look and or feel like a complete lunatic while amassing balls of hair in a plastic sandwich bag in your bathroom closet. Explain to significant other or housemates in simplest terms possible so they're not in for a shock while looking for towels.
  2. Once you have a good sized supply, take a comb and roll/comb pieces into a round, sausage sized pieces. Yes, this will also look weird. At this point, you can either wrap the rat in a small, same color as your hair hairnet, or leave it as is. You have to take it out more delicately sans net.
  3. Pin rat to head. [best sentence in the history of the world]
  4. Pin hair around rat, using hairspray to create a helmet-like beehive covering. You want this to look as smooth as possible, and to be relatively secure so that you don't bend over to pick something up and the whole thing falls to the wayside.
  5. At this point, you can either add a scarf tied around a few times for the straight up beehive, or leave a section down in a ponytail for the Priscilla look like I went for above.

I've got a lot of hair teasing and trial and error-ing to go, but I'm pretty pleased with the initial results!

What about you? Do you have any beehive or hair styling secrets? Would you make your own rat like I did, or does the idea of having old hair pinned to your head, even in the service of historically accurate hair, just gross you out too bad? Do tell!

Til next time.


  1. Fascinating! I had no idea as I am SO bad at doing my hair. I love, love, love me some high hair though and yours looks great! And god yes, bumpits are horrible.

  2. Since i was a little girl, my mantra has been (from the theme song from Hairspray), "I have a dream when I close my eyes. I wish my hair was ten feet high!" ;)
    I've often wondered why people are so freaked out at using their own hair UNDER their own hair. What freaks them out about their own hair? The rat isn't any less clean than the hair still attached to their's usually more clean as most of the hair in your brush is from newly washed hair when you tend to lose the most. Anyhoo....
    I love your do! It really suits you beautifully. That's the do I normally use, half up and low pony to the side. Especially if I'm not using a rat, I find I can sort of push the hair up with the clips and the weight of it kind of sits on the pony part...if that makes any sense??!! My dream is to get my hair as high as my mother's in her senior picture. HUGE!! A trick I found recently is, when in too big of a hurry to do the hot roller set or overnight roller set: instead of rolling then teasing then spraying, spray then tease then curl with a curling iron and clip to cool as you do your make up. Then brush and smooth out. Not only does it seem to be quicker, but I seem to get a lot more height with minimal teasing. The downside is that you can't be doing that too often, as the hairspray mixed with the high heat of the curling iron can really dry your hair out fast...but it's a great trick on the occassion when you wake up with your heart set on a different dress than you'd planned and you want matching big hair fast!

  3. I'm seriously impressed with your hair! I've never made my own rat. But I do have a little dresser box that has a hole in it, that I keep rings in. I found out much later after buying it that it was used to stuff hair into for the making of rats. I never could decide if I thought that was neat, creepy or gross. ;)

  4. Your hair looks magnificent!! You know, I've always been intrigued by the diy-hair rat idea, though I've never bothered to attempt it. It seems so smart (and thrifty!) though... I usually just tease, tease, tease, but it's a nightmare to untangle, and on principle I'm too proud to use artificial aids like a Bump-It ;) I think I'll try and find one of those little Victorian hair receivers for my vanity, to add a touch of glamour to the ordeal, haha.

  5. @Everybody: Thanks for the words of encouragement! ((as I listen to Jackie Wilson's "Higher and Higher" while teasing the fool out of my hair)) I'll keep you posted on height developments!

    @Eartha: They promised so much on the box, and delivered so little!

    @Dolly: Thanks for the tip on curling-on-the-go, I really have to try that. You should post your mom's senior picture on your blog sometime! My mom is serving Ali McGraw realness in her senior portrait... STRAIGHT straight straight hair.

    @Tasha: I now want a rat-making dresser box. Totally neat! And much less creepy than the ziplock bag of hair hidden in my closet. ((sighs)) The things we do for beauty!

    @Dakota: I didn't know there WAS such a thing as a hair receiver until you and Tasha mentioned them. GOT to get on board.

    @Janine: Ain't it grand? :)



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