23 Chic Finger Waves and Different Ways to Style Them

Cindy Marcus
Cindy Marcus Hairstylist, Editor-in-Chief

Finger waves are a women’s hairstyle done by forming S-shaped waves evenly using hair gel and fingers or hot tools. What better way to complete your glamour look than with beautifully shaped strands and a powerful statement?!

Reimagined for modern times, the signature style from the 1920s never disappeared from the red carpet! You’ve witnessed starlets Amandla Stenberg, Beyonce, Zoe Kravitz, and Kate Upton and their glorious waves fused with braids, updos, and bright hair colors, setting the trend for every fan.

Professional hairstylist Stephanie Anderson from The Living Room Hair Lounge in Michigan came up with a luminous, softly waved pixie cut that shows beyond doubt how versatile it is – whether you have short, long, natural, or straight hair, you can rock high-fashion waves even in the comfort of your home!

If it’s for a fancy occasion, a costume party, or simply anytime you feel your tresses are too flat, all you need are a curling iron, your best brush, and lots of gel or hairspray for a sleek, glossy finish. Another option is to use your fingers to press and mold sections of your hair if you want that authentic vintage feel! Don’t miss this chance to see modern ways of creating Old Hollywood-inspired hair!

Before your next hair appointment, check out these inspiring photos of popular finger waves styles.

Finger Waves on African American Hair
Instagram @glambypeachhie

#1: Finger Waves on African-American Hair

Finger waves on African American hair hold better results when the texture is pre-stretched using a blow dryer for pliability. Following up with foam or gel-like lotion and a rat tail comb will aid in pressing, styling, and setting your hair. Saturation is vital when styling finger waves. Flat elongated clips are another way to set and hold the shape.

Finger Wave Updo
Instagram @pueppikram

#2: Finger Wave Updo

The iconic take on the classic finger wave hairstyle, wearing a bun or any updo would take you to the 1920s. The vivid turns of the waves is a mesmerizing look and showcase multi-toned hair even more. Use a curling tong or wand to create such gorgeous Marcel waves at the forehead area.

Cornrowed finger waves
Instagram @heroheera

#3: Cornrowed Finger Waves

Cornrowed finger waves are a fun braid design that mixes waves from the roaring 20s era and braids. A stunning design is executed with small scalp braids and precise hair parting, techniques held by experienced hair braiders. Have fun with the finger wave style by adding some color braid hair, too!

Blonde Vintage Waves
Instagram @iren_franc

#4: Blonde Vintage Waves

To really make blonde vintage finger waves last, use an air-dry cream mixed with a little bit of gel and lay the waves in damp hair. Air-dry overnight and use a wide-tooth comb to gently comb them out to soften them. By letting them air dry in that position with a gel mixture, the waves will stay in place longer and stay smooth and more defined.

Missy Elliot Finger Waves
Instagram @hairby_kc29

#5: Missy Elliot Finger Waves

Missy Elliot finger waves are a timeless style for all occasions. These waves are best on short hair that is chemically relaxed or naturally loose wavy hair. Your stylist can get creative with a side part, smaller waves, and even free-hand-designed waves along your hairline. To achieve the style, use a mildly diluted foam wrap on wet hair. Then finish with a spray a gloss or sheen spray.

#6: Madonna-Inspired Finger Wave

Madonna-inspired finger waves are a classic look with an edgy femme fetale twist. The style can be best achieved on nape-length hair while using Paul Mitchell Super Sculpt Styling liquid to style and long flat clips to hold until dry. When styled with care, it’s one that is built to last and can evolve over the course of days.

#7: 20’s-Inspired Finger Waves

The 20 ‘s-inspired finger waves are a classic hairstyle that emulates feminine power. It is traditionally done on short hair to achieve control. Using foam or gel-like lotion and using a rat tail comb aids in pressing, styling, and setting your hair for a longer-lasting result. Saturation is vital when styling finger waves, as well as allowing your hair to dry fully.

#8: S-Shaped Waves

The S-shaped waves are a timeless masterpiece that offers a sultry and polished finish. It is used in weddings, themed events, holidays, or photoshoots. Recreating a finger wave hairstyle comes in various ways. But the most common is the horizontal sectioning and pinning of the curls. Start at the top and work your way down until it completely cools down. A medium-hold hairspray like Big Spray & Play Cucumber Water + Fresh Gardenia should be misted per section of your hair. Backcombing will help cushion your hair for a longer-lasting style.

Marcel Finger Waves
Instagram @iren_franc

#9: Marcel Waves

The marcel waves resemble the look of finger waves. A finger wave hairstyle is traditionally created on short hair but can be created on women with longer tresses using a marcel curling iron. It’s commonly used during weddings or formal events to recreate a retro look. Flat elongated clips are used to hold the shape of the curls longer.

Deep Finger Waves
Instagram @perlananda_

#10: Deep Finger Waves

These stunning finger waves can only be achieved by carefully tightly arranging hair. If coiled to perfection, your long hair can attain a much-needed bounce thanks to a retro style.

Blonde Finger Waves
Instagram @hairbyphoebek

#11: Blonde Finger Waves

Opt for a Marilyn-Monroe old Hollywood finger wave style with a modern twist.  I love the elegance of the finger waves. But also how I’ve tied them into today’s trends with a modern textured look. The key is in prepping your hair correctly by using a good quality mousse when blow-drying. And the right amount of hairspray and patience when curling and setting the finger waves. Tease your remaining hair to give a more modern, effortless look to suit your style/event.

Loose Finger Waves
Instagram @_jason_vieira

#12: Loose Finger Waves

A classic Hollywood wave or loose finger wave hair that’s reminiscent of the silver screen icons of the 1940s. The charm is from the curls that have been brushed and sculpted to create ridges and valleys. This creates a soft, bouncy, and glamorous look with its “peek-a-boo” framing drawing attention to the cheekbones and eyes. What I love most are the flat roots that sculpt down into gorgeously classic face-framing. Medium to thick hair works best with length below the shoulders. Extensions can be added for fullness.

Although it has a soft appearance, don’t be fooled by the complexity of the style. Finger waves are not an easy style to mimic, so the best way is to get your stylist or a specialist to help create them. Mousse and a lacquered hairspray are needed for an intense hold and shine that will firmly set the curls for the bounce and sculpting. The curls need to be brushed, teased, pinned in place, and sprayed to keep the sculpted finish.

#13: Flattering Finger Wave Curls

These finger wave curls feature harmony between the textures. The core silhouette of a pretty Marcel wave with exaggerated ridges and peaks of smooth hair that transform into tousled textures allows a finger wave style to be dressed up or dressed down. It’s an iconic hairstyle with an urban flair. Invisible Roller & Working Hairspray was used to achieve a curly wave with minimal hot tools. You can get the desired look while reversing signs of chemical damage at the same time.

Stunning Pixie Cut Finger Waves
Instagram @meekzhairsalon

#14: Stunning Pixie Cut Finger Waves

A gorgeous Hollywood pixie cut with finger waves.  The S-shaped style can be played up or down. I decided on deep, bold finger waves. Missy Elliott once wore both the cut and style, and she looked bold. Such modern finger waves are seen in one of the runway shows for Jason Wu, too! The products used to set the waves in place were foam wrap and gel, then set it under the hairdryer for 20 min. The finishing products were hairspray and oil sheen.

#15: Classic Finger Waves in Half-Up Hairstyle

Consider a sleek finger wave hairstyle trend that brings you back to the golden era of cinema. A lot of gel with the guidance of a precise comb to make these gorgeous finger waves.

Finger Waves for Short Hair
Instagram @mayjor.ki

#16: Feminine Finger Waves for Short Hair

Soft finger waves are so light that it matches a short cut like the pixie here. Flowing layers are displayed with this type of combo.

#17: Quick Weave Finger Waves

Shorter waves can be seen with the quick finger wave weaves. This creates layers and makes them look more complex and interesting. Plus, hair this short still packs texture thanks to those wonderful finger waves.

#18: Soft Finger Waves

A nice difference between cool finger waves and your usual beach waves is the precise arrangement finger waves have, which makes your long blonde hair stand out. The folds and the “S” shape created by the waves reveal the tones of your hair, complementing your caramel and ash-brown hues. Jazz it up with a French braid and turn it into modern finger wave styles.

#19: Sassy Finger Waves on Black Hair

The brilliant thing about making black hair a canvas for those wavy textures, is that the light reflects in such a way that it makes your hair shine even more. And on such short hair, too, the choppy cut makes for the perfect finger waves hairstyle.

Amazing Finger Waves in 1920s Style
Instagram @flamingoamy

#20: Amazing Finger Waves in 1920s Style

A unique vintage look that you can wear in this very contemporary world, beautiful big finger waves are making a comeback. The waves offer all the volume and springing action to your short bob hair.

Beautiful Finger Waves for Long Hair
Instagram @pinkcombbeauty

#21: Beautiful Finger Waves for Long Hair

Opt for a dapper look that will take you back to the ’20s. These stylish finger waves create a texture like no other. Finger-waving your locks does wonders in creating volume for your long hair.

#22: Gorgeous Finger Waves on Natural Hair

It’s a messy, loose finger wave or beachy finger wave on the black natural hair of an African-American woman. If you keep the sides short and the top of your hair long, it creates a mohawk cut effect. Use light mousse to form messy curls on the main waves on the side. Sleek, curly hair is great for women looking for that effortless style. It makes it simple to toss and scrunch your curl with a light mousse up top. Refresh your finger waves with an edge control that will reshape your natural S curls.

Sexy Super Short Finger Waves
Instagram @chic_by_mik

#23: Super Short Finger Waves

Opt for an edgy and chic finger-waved hairstyle. Those deep waves can be dressed up or down and are easy to maintain. I suggest you get a relaxer or texturizer to achieve a finger wave hairstyle. Unless your hair texture permits a flat, polished look. There is nothing chic about puffy finger waves.