The 1950s was a decade known for experimentation with new styles and culture. Following World War II and the austerity years of the post-war period, the 1950s were a time of comparative prosperity, which influenced fashion and the concept of glamour. Hairstylists invented new hairstyles for wealthy patrons. Influential hairstylists of the period include Sydney Guilaroff, Alexandre of Paris and Raymond Bessone who took French hair fashion to the Hollywood, New York and London, popularising the pickle cut, the pixie cut and bouffant hairstyles.
The American film industry, and popular music industry influenced hairstyles around the world, both in mainstream fashion and teenage sub-culture. With the advent of the rock music industry, teenage culture, and teenage fashion became increasingly significant and distinctive from mainstream fashion, with American style being imitated in Europe, Asia, Australasia and South America. Teenage girls across the world wore their hair in ponytails while teenage boys wore crew cuts, and the more rebellious favoured "greaser" comb-backs.
The development of hair-styling products, particularly setting sprays, hair-oil and hair-cream, influenced the way in which hair was styled, and the way in which people across the world wore their hair, from day to day. Women's hair styles of the 1950s were in general less ornate and more informal than those of the 1940s, with a "natural" look being favoured, even if it was achieved by perming, setting, styling and spraying. Mature men's hairstyles were always short and neat, and generally maintained with hair-oil. Even among "rebellious youth" with longer greased hair, carrying a comb and maintaining the hairstyle was part of the culture.
Hairstyles for women in the 1950s were diverse, of varying hair lengths, although women older than 20 generally preferred short to medium-length hair. Women generally emulated the hair styles and hair colors of popular film personalities and fashion magazines; top models played a pivotal role in propagating the styles. Alexandre of Paris had developed the beehive and artichoke styles seen on Grace Kelly, Jackie Kennedy, the Duchess of Windsor, Elizabeth Taylor, and Tippi Hedren. Generally, a shorter bouffant style was favored by female movie stars, paving the way for the long hair trend of the 1960s. Very short cropped hairstyles were fashionable in the early 1950s. By mid-decade, hats were worn less frequently, especially as fuller hairstyles like the short, curly “elfin cut" or the "Italian cut" or "poodle cut” and later the bouffant and the beehive became fashionable (sometimes nicknamed B-52s for their similarity to the bulbous noses of the B-52 Stratofortress bomber).