The Finger Waves are defined ‘S’ shaped waves that are often worn flat against the head. The style first popped up in the 1920s as a way to spice up the strict bob of fun-loving flappers. Then, it reemerged in the 90’s as a popular style for black hair. Now, finger waves are back again, for short and long hair, in more ways than we can wrap our heads around!
Ways to Do Finger Waves
The 20’s and 30’s Finger Waves were styled with the help of a fine-toothed comb and hairdresser’s fingers who pressed and molded gelled hair into the curvy S-shaped sleek waves. Today this technique is also used, preferably on shorter or thinner hair, along with other methods applied for longer lengths and thicker manes. Finger waves with a curling iron or a straightener are quite easy to master, and you can vary the size and smoothness of your waves using this technique. You can even roller set your hair and then style the desired waves using hair clips and wave clamps. Experiment with smoother flowing dry waves and wet, sexy ridged ones, incorporate them into your updos or dress up your short haircut for a special occasion. These vintage waves can do it all and more than you can imagine! Check for yourself.
#1: Formal Finger Wave Updo
You don’t have to sport a cropped bob and gelled locks to pull off finger wave hairstyles. This beautiful formal updo combines a killer beehive and loose finger waves. Creating this style at home will take plenty of time and patience though, as it requires styling both a beehive at the back and the waves to cover this elevated updo. The beehive is created with backcombing and plenty of hairspray. Then, the waves on top are sculpted one-by-one, draped delicately over the beehive and carefully pinned. It goes without saying, this style is not for ladies in a rush and those without any hairstyling skills, but it’s a nice idea of a formal updo to recreate with your stylist when you need a special look for a special occasion.
#2: Black Finger Wave Pixie
One or two eye-catching statement waves are the best for ladies who don’t have time to create a full head of finger waves. Not only will it give your haircut a completely new look, it can also make a casual hairdo look formal.
#3: Long Luscious Retro Waves
These long finger waves completely repurpose the old-school technique with gel and fingers. It’s a modern long look done on dry hair with a curling iron. The larger the barrel of your iron, the larger the waves. Clip a section of hair into the iron (the barrel is under the hair) and turn it about a half turn towards the head, pulling the freely hanging ends coming out of the iron to the right with a comb. This is necessary for forming the “S” shape of your wave. Hold for a few seconds. Now work on the same section right under the turn you’ve just shaped. Clip the section (the barrel is on the hair) and turn your curling iron about a half turn away from the head (the opposite way), pulling the freely hanging ends to the left. Continue working down on the same section shaping as many waves as you wish.
#4: Finger Wave Bangs
One large wave for your bangs is an easy and showy way to rock the finger wave. By making just a few turns with your curling iron, you can create a stunning vintage style. Alternatively, roller set the section you want the wave on. When the hair is set and dry, brush it and then press it with your hand and push a bit up against your head to see the “S” shape of the wave. Put a clip inside the “S” to shape the finger wave. Trace the curve of the wave and spot the next point where you can put a clip in the opposite direction. Let the wave set using a blow-dryer and add enough hairspray to make your wave hold longer.
#5: Wavy Colorful Mohawk
If you have an impression that there’s only one style you can do with a mohawk, we’re here to prove you wrong. This unique mohawk uses a couple of pin curls at the top that blend into finger waves at the back. What a beautiful mix of colors and textures! Bright and showy, yet classy and on-point.
#6: Messy Cherry-Colored Finger Waves
Slightly messy finger waves, rather than the usual neat rows, are the ultimate volumized style for short hairdos. These lush cherry-colored waves alternate in direction and size to add a fun edge to the look, as well as plenty of texture. Not adding a parting to this style, also creates a much more modern twist on the classic finger waves.
#7: Pinched Neon Pink Waves
Curls don’t come any cuter than these. These pinched finger waves look perfectly molded, with not a hair out of place, whereas the bright pink and bleached blonde color make the vintage wave modern, fun and youthful. Apply enough gel and use a fine-toothed comb when working on this style. Begin styling from the side part. Clip a section you are working on an inch away from the part. Put a comb inside your hair a few inches away from your clip and pull it towards the part and your clip, shaping a wave that elevates between the clip and the comb. Pinch the elevated piece with a wave clamp to define the ridge of your wave. Now add the next clip and continue working on your waves as described.
#8: Finger Wave Sideburns
Finger waves can look just as good when combined with shorter curls as they do on longer hair, especially when they are done on black hair. In this case, the sculpted waves on the sides of the head create a great contrast with the full curls on top. Add curlers to the top section of the hair and set the whole style under a dryer.
#9: Over-Sized Formal Updo
This glorious updo is not only a work of art in itself, it’s also a perfect look for any formal event. However, this style isn’t the one that can be put-together in front of your bathroom mirror, you’ll need to book an appointment with a skilled stylist.
#10: Super Short Waves
Finger waves short hair, don’t care! These are much less catchy, but no less fashionable… Take a lock from above your forehead and rub some gel into it. Use a comb to press it flat along your hairline, then curve it out onto your forehead and back into your hairline. Take another lock of hair near from where your last wave ends and do the same. This clever technique gives the impression of one long finger wave, but it’s actually a number of shorter curls framing the face.
#11: Finger Wave-Inspired Bob
Just like the original 1920s style, these finger waves are featured on the timeless bob. Grab a wide straightener – yes, straightener, you’ve read that right. If you are doing finger waves on longer thicker hair, these are going to be dry waves with a straightener or a curling iron. Use the technique described for the picture #3 above.
#12: Cute Finger Wave and Victory Roll Combo
If you fancy a unique style that combines not one but two decades, try pairing 20’s finger waves with 40’s victory rolls. This style will require some professional help, so book an appointment with your stylist. They will likely pop your bangs into curlers, brush the hair out once it has set and then mold the curls into waves. Even with the combination of two different styling techniques, this is a timeless look perfect for evening ‘dos that will shine at formal events.
#13: Long Zig-Zag Sew In
Finger waves are normally recognized by their flat wavy nature, but not all finger waves are created equal! These zig-zag waves are full of life and volume. Although you wouldn’t know it, this hairstyle is actually a sew in. For ladies who regularly wear a wig or a weave, this is a great alternative to your regular hairstyle with no extra hassle.
If these amazing hairdos don’t inspire you to try finger waves, we don’t know what will! Each and every style uses the traditional styling technique and spices it up in an innovative way. So, even if you are not quite impressed with the looks we’ve shared, you can always experiment with your own finger wave-inspired style!