Le Keux Locks Down Challenge Day 1: What tools do I need to style vintage hair?

Having the right tools and products, from hair prep to finishing make such a huge difference to your styling skills and longevity of your perfectly crafted hairdo! Here's the ultimate Le Keux guide to what you need in your hair kit and why...
Fine tooth comb
Use for sectioning the hair and backcombing. You can get metal or plastic handles, but we recommend metal handles as you can use the end to help ease your hair from curling irons without letting the curl drop or burning your fingers!
Grooming brush
a boar bristle grooming brush is great for brushing out your curlsets. It helps define and refine soft waves and curls as you brush for a flawless look whilst helping tame flyaways or frizz, as the natural oils in the boar bristles nourish the hair as your style. 
Backcombing brush
Boar or synthetic bristled brush, perfect for creating full and fluffy backcombing. You also use this to smooth and groom the top layers of hair ready for styling.

I’ve tried a lot of tools over the years and these are the ones I think get the best results and that I use on myself and customers now. Why are the right tools important? Well for one different brushes and combs produce very different results in the hair. Let’s go into details (there’s links at the bottom to buy everything I do recommend and everything written here will be covered in the live videos so you can see each tool in action and see why they do or don’t work!)…

Tooth comb width – if you’ve been using a comb that isn’t a very fine width tooth for tasks such as back combing I bet you’re finding that you just can’t get any volume?! You see the wider the gap in the comb the less hair you’ll be grabbing and dragging down to create that backcomb mass at the root of your hair. Combs such as this won’t work for backcombing and smoothing your hair, so if this is in your kit, add in a fine tooth comb and backcombing brush pictured above for far better results.

Wide tooth comb – won’t work for backcombing and smoothing (for example encouraging stray hairs back into your victory rolls after they are pinned up). See the links below for the fine tooth comb you’ll need.

Type of finishing brush – A finishing brush is one we use to brush out and smooth our vintage hair after pin curling and/or sculpting it into the shape we want. So again it’s really important to use the right kind for this, a brush that has wide set bristles will end up brushing OUT the curls and sculpting, but a brush with bristles set in close density will glide over the top of the curls and waves to encourage a smooth finish. I love boar bristles because they make your hair so shiny and smooth and you’ll find my favourites linked below. Here’s an example of a brush you wouldn’t use after curling your hair (but of course great for general detangling and blowdrying before you start styling so don’t discard them!):

Wide bristle brush for blowdrying and detangling but NOT for brushing out curls after pin curl setting, or finishing/smoothing hair.

Clips and grips – you really can be flexible with these but when learning I do recommending getting both the long billed and short silver clips pictured below, as well as bobby pins (you might call then kirby grips) so you’re making your like as easy as possible. I also think sectioning clips (see the links at the bottom) are really useful for learning because they grip a lot more hair back and therefore allow you to work on one section of your hair at a time without other sections getting all tangled up and making you frustrated! I’ll cover this in the live videos to really show you what I mean!

Curlers – lastly lets talk curling! This course is going to be based on dry, hot curling techniques. Many of you will be familiar with wet pin curling which involves wrapping damp hair either around your fingers then pinning or using soft sponge rollers (such as these) and sleeping in the curl set or leaving to dry for long periods of time. This does result in a long standing curl and is beautifully authentic, however what I want to teach you in this particular course is techniques that are quick and realistic for you to achieve when we’re faced with early starts, busy careers, children and/or a lack of time! If you do want to try wet setting too, Anna of Le Keux Essex has done a fabulous tutorial on our YouTube channel here.

So we need to get you the right curling tongs to get the job done. When talking to our customers who tell me often they just can’t curl their hair at home, I always ask them what curl tongs they’re using and the answer is usually the reason it’s not working! Large barrel tongs will not get you the curl you need for vintage styling. We need a tight, small curl that will withstand brushing and manipulating. This means a tong that is 1 inch width maximum. Anything larger than this will create large loose curls that brush out very easily. You also need curling tongs with a clasp, not a wand, and a tong that has a smooth barrel that you can slide hair off (I’ll show you why in the videos later this week). The image below shows you a selection of tools, the middle one is what I recommend. The top one is a wand with no clasp and the bottom is a waving tong that’s far too wide. I also recommend going mid range with the price (see my recommendations below) as the super cheap ones may not get hot enough, and therefore not set your hair as well).

A curing tong like the middle one is ideal!

So that covers our toolkit! To help you find what you need I’ve created a list below with links to purchase each item, some of which are affiliate links (full disclosure we do earn a small amount if you buy from these, it’s a way we generate income whilst our salons are closed) or our own online shop but of course you can purchase them anywhere you wish! If you do order at our shop (www.lekeuxgirl.com), add the note at checkout ‘Locks Down’ and we’ll upgrade you to 1st class post and prioritise shipping so you get your order asap for the course!)

Shopping links

Fine tooth, metal ended comb (for backcombing, smoothing and shaping hair – choose pink or black! This is what I’ll be using in our tutorials) – £4.25

Slim bristle backcombing brush (alternative for backcombing, smoothing and brushing out curls – a good all rounder if you don’t also want to buy the grooming brush below and very similar to one you’ll be seeing me use) – £6.95

Round boar bristle grooming brush (for smoothing and brushing out curls) – £13.18

Oval boar bristle grooming brush (alternative for smoothing and brushing out curls – my favourite and one I’ll be using in tutorials) – £7.50

Sectioning / long bill clips (for holding back sections of the hair for easy styling) – £3.25 for pack of 3

Pin curl clips – pretty pink ribbon ones! (for holding in place your pin curls) – £5.25 for pack of 6

Kirby grips / bobby pins – I love this set because it has every type of clip you’ll need for setting all manner of styles in place and it comes in a sectioning box so you won’t lose them and can grab what you need easily!

Curling tongs – these are the ones I use in the salon for my customers and have done for years, they’re the right size, super hot setting and ultra smooth barrel – £27.95

Having the right tools and products, from hair prep to finishing make such a huge difference to your styling skills and longevity of your perfectly crafted hairdo! Here’s the ultimate Le Keux guide to what you need in your hair kit and why…
Fine tooth comb
Use for sectioning the hair and backcombing. You can get metal or plastic handles, but we recommend metal handles as you can use the end to help ease your hair from curling irons without letting the curl drop or burning your fingers!
Grooming brush
a boar bristle grooming brush is great for brushing out your curlsets. It helps define and refine soft waves and curls as you brush for a flawless look whilst helping tame flyaways or frizz, as the natural oils in the boar bristles nourish the hair as your style.
Backcombing brush
Boar or synthetic bristled brush, perfect for creating full and fluffy backcombing. You also use this to smooth and groom the top layers of hair ready for styling.