13 Easy Finger Waves Hair Styles You Will Want to Copy

Typically worn flat against the head, the finger waves have a distinct “S” shape. The 1920s saw the emergence of the look as a way to inject some fun into the stiff bob worn by carefree flappers. Then, it made a comeback as a well-liked black hairstyle in the 1990s. These days, finger waves are back in a lot more ways than we can count for both long and short hair!

Finger waves are back in style after being spotted on the runways of Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Stella McCartney, Jason Wu, and Salvatore Ferragamo. They were also spotted on the red carpet and in Solange’s music video for the song “Don’t Touch My Hair.” The good news is that contemporary versions of finger waves can still look incredibly feminine while still being utterly modern and even futuristic.

Modern Takes on Finger Waves

We don’t typically do finger waves all over the head these days, but you can still use this idea and update it with a contemporary color. Consider neon or pastel colors. Nowadays, it’s more common to choose finger waves only along the hairline and a naturally curly or straight texture in the back.

Products and Tools for Finger Waves

You will need to use just your fingers and a comb instead of any hot styling tools if you want to achieve true glossy finger waves rather than Marcel waves. Thus, a tiny tooth comb and an intense sculpting gel—such as Redken Hardwear 16 or Pantene—will be necessary.

Secure sectioning clips can be used for various finger wave variations in addition to the traditional method we’ll go over below. For more prominent, dimensional waves, pinch the ridge here using a clip rather than your fingers.

Additionally, there are dry waves that mimic finger waves. A straightener is used for these. View the gallery of finger wave styles below.

How to Do Finger Waves Easily?

A hairdresser’s fingers and a fine-toothed comb were used to press and mold gelled hair into the sleek, curved S-shaped waves that characterized the 20s and 30s finger waves. In addition to other techniques used for longer lengths and thicker manes, this technique is still used today, preferably on shorter or thinner hair.

Using a curling iron or a straightener, you can easily learn how to create finger waves that can be adjusted in size and smoothness. Even better, you can use wave clamps and hair clips to style your hair into the desired waves after roller setting it.

Try out wet, sultry ridged waves and smoother flowing dry ones; use them to dress up your short haircut for a special occasion or incorporate them into your updos. These retro finger waves are more versatile than you might think!

The how-to guide for creating this retro look is as follows:

  • Wet hair is used for the style. For sleekness and hold, use a strong hold gel or apply some setting lotion.
  • Brush back hair. Proceed from the hairline.
  • From right to left, work. Move the comb a few inches from the hairline to the back, release the comb’s teeth, place your middle finger in front of the comb, and press the hair. After gliding the comb an inch to the right, place it down. The ridge between the comb and your middle finger is now visible. Using your index finger, pinch the ridge. Comb the hair from beneath the pinched area to the tips while holding the ridge.
  • To add to the wave across the head you are working on, move to the left and repeat the process.
  • To shape the second row, now descend a little. Proceed left to right. Using your middle finger, press the hair just below the wave’s first row. Slide your hair an inch to the left with a comb in it, then set it down. Using your index finger, pinch the ridge and comb the hair from the tips to the area beneath the pinch. Continue in this manner, adding to the wave across your head and working to the right.

View a simple finger wave tutorial here:

1. Formal Finger Wave Updo

Finger wave hairstyles don’t require you to have gelled locks and a cropped bob. This elegant formal updo blends loose finger waves with an amazing beehive. However, because this elevated updo requires styling both the waves and a beehive at the back, creating this look at home will require a lot of time and patience.

A lot of hairspray and backcombing are used to create the beehive. The top waves are then individually sculpted, softly draped over the beehive, and carefully pinned. Naturally, this look is not appropriate for hurried women or those who lack hair styling skills, but it’s a great example of a formal updo that you can recreate with your stylist for special occasions.

Source: @makefinityhairandmakeup

2. Natural Hair Finger Wave Pixie

For women who lack the time to create a full head of finger waves, one or two striking statement waves work best. It can not only completely transform your haircut, but it can also elevate a casual hairstyle to a formal look.

Source: @ohdiane_hair

3. Long Luscious Retro Waves

The traditional method of using gel and fingers is entirely transformed by these extended finger motions. Using a curling iron on dry hair, this is a contemporary long hairstyle. The waves will be bigger the bigger your iron’s barrel is.

Using a comb, pull the loose ends that emerge from the iron to the right. Clip a section of hair into the iron (the barrel is under the hair), and turn it about half a turn towards the head. This is what your wave needs to form that “S” shape. Hold on for a brief while.

Work on the area directly beneath the turn you just shaped. After cutting the section (the barrel is on the hair), move the freely hanging ends to the left and rotate your curling iron in the opposite direction, away from the head, by about half a turn. Work on the same section down below, shaping as many waves as you like.

Source: @mellose_se

4. Finger Waves with Bangs

Finger waves are simple and eye-catching when done in one big wave for your bangs. With just a few twists of your curling iron, you can achieve an amazing retro look. As an alternative, roller set the desired wave section.

Once the hair has dried and set, brush it, then use your hand to press it up against your head just enough to reveal the wave’s “S” shape. To form the finger wave, insert a clip into the letter “S.” Find the next location where you can place a clip in the opposite direction by following the wave’s curve. Use a blow dryer to let the wave set, then apply enough hairspray to ensure that the wave lasts longer.

Source: @emchenhair

5. Modern Finger Wave Mohawk

We’re here to dispel any misconception you may have about there being just one mohawk style. A few pin curls at the top are used in this unusual mohawk, blending into finger waves at the back. What a lovely combination of hues and textures! Vibrant and eye-catching, but elegant and spot-on.

Source: @kiastylez

6. Cherry-Colored Finger Wave Hair

Rather than wearing typical neat rows, the ultimate volumized look for short hair is slightly messy finger waves. These rich, cherry-colored waves vary in size and direction to give the ensemble a playful edge and lots of texture. This style also puts a much more contemporary spin on the traditional finger waves by omitting the parting.

Source: @artistry4gg

7. Pinched Neon Pink Waves

These are the cutest curls ever. While the vintage wave is modern, playful, and youthful due to its bright pink and bleached blonde color, these pinched finger waves appear flawlessly molded and perfectly in place.

When working on this style, use a fine-toothed comb and apply enough gel. Start styling the side portion first. A section that you are working on should be clipped an inch from the part. A comb should be inserted into your hair a few inches from the clip, and it should be pulled toward the part and the clip to create an elevated wave that falls between them. To define the wave’s ridge, pinch the elevated piece with a wave clamp. Add the following clip now, and carry on refining your waves as instructed.

Source: @salonchristol

8. Finger Waves on Black Hair

Particularly on African-American black hair, finger waves can look just as good paired with shorter curls as they do on longer hair. In this instance, the full curls on top contrast beautifully with the sculpted waves on the sides of the head. Put curlers in the hair’s upper section and use a dryer to set the entire look.

Source: @nikki_h_stylist

9. Over-Sized Formal Updo

This magnificent long hair updo is ideal for any formal occasion in addition to being a work of art in and of itself. But this isn’t a look you can throw together in front of your bathroom mirror—you’ll need to schedule an appointment with a professional stylist.

Source: @mustafaavci

10. Super Short Waves

I don’t care if my finger waves are short! These are not as catchy, but they’re still stylish. Take a lock of hair from above your forehead, and apply gel to it. Curl it out onto your forehead and back into your hairline after flattening it with a comb along your hairline. Take a second lock of hair close to the end of your previous wave and repeat the process. With the help of this deft technique, the face is cleverly framed by several shorter finger curls that appear to be one long wave.

Source: @niksbeautystudio

11. Inspiring Finger Waves Bob

These effortless finger waves are a hallmark of the classic bob, exactly like the original 1920s look. Take out a wide straightener. Yes, you read that correctly. Finger waves on longer, thicker hair will be dry push waves created with a curling iron or straightener.

Source: @minthairstudio

12. Cute Finger Wave Prom Hairstyle

Try combining the victory rolls of the 40s with the finger waves of the 20s for a distinctive look that blends not just one but two decades. Make an appointment with your stylist because this look will call for expert assistance. It’s likely that they will put your bangs in curlers, brush out your hair after it sets, and then shape the curls into waves. Even with the mixing of two distinct styling methods, this is a classic style ideal for formal, prom, and evening wear.

Source: @annette_updo_artist

13. Long Zig-Zag Sew In

Although their flat, wavy appearance is typically used to identify finger waves, not all finger waves are the same! These unstructured zigzag waves have a lot of energy and volume. You might not realize it, but this hairstyle is actually sewn in. This is a great, hassle-free alternative to your typical hairstyle for women who wear wigs or weaves on a regular basis.

Source: @the_rose_affect
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