Kiss curl

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1938 Swedish poster showing Josephine Baker with a kiss curl

A kiss curl describes a lock of hair curling onto the face and usually plastered down. Although the curl could be flattened with saliva (hence its alternative name spit curl), soap or hair lotion was more typically used.[1]

Pre-20th century

In the late seventeenth century there was a fashion for fringes composed of curls described as fripons, guigne-galants, or 'kiss-curls', sometimes augmented with false hair.[2]

20th century onwards

The kiss-curl was worn by both men and women.

It became a trademark of the singer Bill Haley, who wore a large spit curl over his right eye to divert attention from the other blind eye.[3][4] Other people who became known for kiss/spit curls included Josephine Baker,[5] Diana Ross,[6] and Superman.[7]


  1. ^ Sherrow, Victoria (2006). Encyclopedia of hair : a cultural history (1. publ. ed.). Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. p. 64. ISBN 9780313331459. 
  2. ^ Harvey, Sara M. (2008). "The Seventeenth Century". In Condra, Jill. The Greenwood encyclopedia of clothing through world history. Westport, Conn. [u.a.]: Greenwood Press. p. 150. ISBN 9780313336645. 
  3. ^ Lyons, John F. (2013). America in the British imagination : 1945 to the present. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 19. ISBN 9781137376800. 
  4. ^ Hall, Mitchell K. (2014). The Emergence of Rock and Roll Music and the Rise of American Youth Culture. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis. p. 15. ISBN 9781135053581. 
  5. ^ Sherrow, Victoria (2006). "Josephine Baker". Encyclopedia of hair : a cultural history (1. publ. ed.). Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. p. 41. ISBN 9780313331459. 
  6. ^ Ribowsky, Mark (2010). The Supremes : a saga of motown dreams, success, and betrayal. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. p. 373. ISBN 9780306818738. 
  7. ^ Beatty, Scott (2006). The Superman handbook : the ultimate guide to saving the day. Philadelphia: Quirk Books. p. 162. ISBN 9781594741135. 

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