Can-Can Dancer Hairstyles

The can-can hairstyle completes the look.

Photo: Michael Steele/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

When you are ready to get your Moulin Rouge on, you need the perfect hairstyle to match the black stockings, layered skirt and petticoat. From the traditional French hairdos to vintage updos, can-can hairstyles are showy and must withstand the bouncing that comes with high kicks; wigs need not apply.

Adorned with a Hat

Early Parisian can-can dancers often wore hats to complete their saucy look, which the public considered scandalous at the time (frilly knickers can be wild). If the hat was large, a dancer usually wore it on the back of her head so it would frame her face. Smaller hats were placed on top of the head. The ooh-la-la hair was usually in the form of a Gibson bun (imagine Anne of Green Gables). To make this bun, tease the front half of your hair so it is poufs toward the back. Then gather your hair into a high, loose ponytail. Adjust the ponytail band and your hair so your hair looks soft and a little fluffy from the front and sides. Twist the hair in your ponytail and coil it to create a bun; secure the bun with hairpins. Use an aerosol hairspray to set your hair in place. Place the can-can hat on your head and be ready to dazzle.


The burlesque-style of can-can dancers sometimes resembles showgirls with their plumed head-ware. It is common to see can-can girls with one feather sticking up from the back of the head, while costumes that are more elaborate have a headpiece with three or more feathers. Buy or make a barrette that has at least one tall feather on it. Pull your hair back into a low bun or create a French twist. Center and secure the barrette on the back of your head.

Half-Updo with Curls

Get out your hot curlers or curling iron to make yourself a River Dance-style half-updo. Pull the top half of your hair back into a ponytail, but leave a few strands free on the side of your face. Use a small-barreled curling iron or hot curlers to make several ringlets of curls on all the loose hair. Voila! That’s it. If you feel like you need more frills on your hair, you can add a feather or a barrette with a large silk rose.

Saloon-Style Hair

To create a Wild West can-can dancer updo, curl all your hair so you have small ringlets. Gather the hair in a loose ponytail at the top of your head and brush your fingers through the curls to loosen them a bit. Then grab a few curls or a 1/2-inch section of hair. Twirl the hair in the same direction a few times, hold onto a few strands of hair at the end of the length of hair you twisted and push the rest of the hair down to your head. You will form a pouf on your head, which you then secure to your head with a few headpins. Repeat the twirling and pushing process with the rest of your hair. If you have bangs, curl and tease them so they look fluffy, like a bar maid’s in a Western movie.

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