In the Jazz Age, almost everyone wore a hat, this was why the helmet head was so popular: it allowed to wear a hat with minimum fuss to your hair. It was mostly a bob or a shingle for women, men would wore their hair medium length and slicked, flattened down with a new product called brilliantine.
This was a oil based pomade which gave off a slimy residue to anything it touched. The Twenties version was not actually meant to hold a shape so much as to smooth down and flatten, but men did sometimes use it to model their forehead hair, while women used it to model perfect curls on their foreheads and cheeks.
Poorer people would sometimes use a cheaper petroleum jelly. It did the job, but it was a mess to clean up.
Once thoroughly oiled, a man would then part his hair in one of three popular ways:
- Straight back. This was a very sophisticated look and was obtained by leaving the top layers of the hair longer and then combing it all uniformly back.
- Parted on the exact centre or slightly off centre on one side or the other, depending what the man preferred.
- Parted deeper on one side. This was more common in the 1910s than the 1920s, but it was sometimes necessary for men with thinning hair.
Boys didn’t use any of these styles. They would cut their hair very short on the back and the sides, with a longer shock of hair on top of their head.
Vintage Dancer – 1920s Men’s Hairstyle and Products History