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How To Get Mad Men Hair At Home

It takes a lot to distract me while I'm watching an episode of Mad Men; the plots are too engrossing, the characters too complex, the period details too accurate for my thoughts to wander. But every so often, I'll lose track of what's happening because I'm wondering about the logistics that went into mid-century hair. Ranging from architectural waves to shellacked-in-place updos, the styles seem far too involved for an at-home replication. So how on earth did the real-life Bettys, Joans, Megans and Peggys make do in an era without blowout bars?

To answer my question, I asked two of the John Barrett stylists who schooled us in Games of Thrones braids last week, Kayley Pak and Isabel Gullien, to return for another crash course. And I was pleasantly surprised with what I learned: women 50 years ago were not magically born with Veronica Lake waves, nor did they spend several hours a day creating them. In fact, it took less than 30 minutes to recreate four Mad Men looks on me and three of my fellow editors, and none of the steps were confusing or unmanageable.

In the slideshow below, I've shared our Mad Men makeovers, complete with a DIY tutorial for each. Start practicing now so you're ready for Sunday's big two-hour premiere!

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Alexis Bryan Morgan as Betty Francis

Over the show's first five seasons, Betty's evolved from naive housewife to conflicted mistress to bitter divorceé. The only thing that hasn't changed? Her always-perfect flaxen hair. Click through to learn this look now.

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Prep wet hair with a volumizing product (Kayley used Shu Uemura Fiber Lift on Alexis) and began blow drying in sections—preferably six, but "four or five might be easier on your own." Pull everything toward the front with a round bristle brush to create more lift, more body, more movement!


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Once you're done blow drying, use a teasing brush on the top and sides of the head for even more shape. Then, curl the ends of the hair before rubbing in a little oil; Kayley's go-to is Shu Uemura's Essense Absolut because it moisturizes, prevents flyaways and gives a glossy, shiny finish. Secure the style with a quick mist of hairspray.


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Hillary McDaniels as Joan Holloway

Although Joan has much longer hair than most of the ladies at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, she never wears it down at work; this bouffant/bun hybrid commands much more respect. Click through to learn this look now.


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If you don't have bangs (like Hillary!), fake them by blowdrying the hair straight back and swooping one large piece across the forehead. After the shape is right, curl everything and tease the crown to create Joan's trademark pouf.


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Next, you need to divide the hair into three sections: one in the front (the fake bangs), one at the top of the head (the pouf) and one in the back. Use the last section to make a French twist, wrap into a bun and pin into place. Then, taking care not to flatten your pouf, work the second section into the bun; after that, tuck and pin back the ends of your "bangs." Finish with a little extra teasing and a healthy dose of hairspray.


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Laura Morgan as Megan Draper

Perhaps the most modern of all the leading ladies' looks, Megan's long bob is all about volume, volume and more volume. Click through to learn this look now.


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This look is all about lift, so start with a non-heavy mousse (like the Shu Uemura Ample Angora that Isabel used on Laura) that'll create weightless shape. Blow dry with a bristle brush while turning the ends of the hair inward, which will help to build body. Next, create even more texture by curling quarter-inch sections toward the head while lifting up.


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After you've curled the entire head, set hair in medium rollers, spritz on some hairspray and blast everything with a cold shot of air from your blow dryer. Don't skip the last step! "If you don't cool [the hair], it will go down right away," Isabel warned me. Once you've sufficiently cooled each roller, take each one out, make a part and touch up ends with a curling iron.


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Alison Syrett Cleary as Peggy Olson

The combination of Peggy's exaggerated flip and teased bangs is too dated for everyday life, but it's a style worth learning for your next costume party! Click through to learn this look now.


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This look is also better if you start with mousse; Isabel used Ample Angora here, too. Once the hair has been prepped, blow dry with a round brush, flattening the sides and flipping the ends away from the head. The only place you'll want to create shape is the crown of the head; here, you need to over-direct the hair (or in my case, half my bangs) to create a mini pouf. Then, use a smoothing cream, such as Shu Uemura's Absolut Oil-in-Cream, to reinforce the style's very structured shape.


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Using the smallest curling iron at your disposal, curl the ends of the hair out and up, then clip into place. Let them cool for a few minutes, take out the clips and fix with hairspray. If you are working with natural bangs, split the fringe and curl each side under, switching the direction of the curling iron each time so the handle is always closest to the ears—this ensures uniformity.


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