23 Chic Finger Waves and Different Ways to Style Them

Finger waves

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, this 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 this look 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 photos of popular finger waves.

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Finger Wave Updo

Finger Wave Updo
Instagram @pueppikram

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

Cornrowed finger waves
Instagram @heroheera

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

Blonde Vintage Waves

Blonde Vintage Waves
Instagram @iren_franc

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 more smooth and defined.

Missy Elliot Finger Waves

Missy Elliot Finger Waves
Instagram @hairby_kc29

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 the hair line. To achieve this style, use a mildly diluted foam wrap on wet hair, then finish with a spray a gloss or sheen spray.

Madonna-Inspired Finger Wave

Madonna-Inspired Finger Wave
Instagram @ready_winifreddie

Madonna-inspired finger waves are a classic look with an edgy femme fetale twist. This 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 is one that is built to last, and can evolve over the course of days.

20’s Inspired Finger Waves

20's Inspired Finger Waves
Instagram @tabea_tatan_makeup

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

S-Shaped Waves

S-Shaped Waves
Instagram @silverscreenvanity

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 this hairstyle comes in various ways, but the most common is the horizontal sectioning and pinning of the curls, starting at the top and working your way down until it completely cools down. A medium-hold hairspray like Sexy Hair’s Big Sexy Hair Spray & Play Cucumber Water + Fresh Gardenia Volumizing Hairspray misted per section of the hair and backcombing will help cushion the hair for a longer-lasting style.

Finger Waves on African American Hair

Finger Waves on African American Hair
Instagram @glambypeachhie

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 the hair. Saturation is vital when styling finger waves. Flat elongated clips are another way to setting and holding the shape.

Marcel Waves

Marcel Finger Waves
Instagram @iren_franc

The marcel waves resemble the look of finger waves. This hairstyle is traditionally created on short hair but may be created on women with longer tresses using a marcel curling iron. It is 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

Deep Finger Waves
Instagram @perlananda_

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 this retro style.

Blonde Finger Waves

Blonde Finger Waves
Instagram @hairbyphoebek

This is a Marilyn-Monroe old Hollywood finger wave style with a modern twist. It was created by hairstylist Phoebe Keir of Rutherglen, VIC.

“I love the elegance of the finger waves but also how I’ve tied it into today’s trends with a more modern textured look,” says Keir.

“The key is in prepping the 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,” she explains. “Tease the remaining hair to give a more modern effortless look to suit your style/event.”

Loose Finger Waves

Loose Finger Waves
Instagram @_jason_vieira

This classic Hollywood wave or loose finger wave hair that’s reminiscent of the silver screen icons of the 1940s was created by hairdresser Jason Vieira of New York.

“The charm is from the curls that have been brushed and sculpted to create ridges and valleys,” says Vieira. “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 shoulders. Extensions can be added for fullness.

“Although it has a soft appearance, don’t be fooled by the complexity of this style. This is not an easy style to mimic, so the best way is to get your stylist or a specialist to help create it,” he adds.

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.

Finger Wave Curls

These finger wave curls feature harmony between the textures. This style was created by barber and stylist Michael Burgess of Newtown, CT. “The core silhouette of a pretty Marcel wave with exaggerated ridges and peaks of smooth hair that transform to tousled textures allows this style to be dressed up or dressed down. It’s an iconic hairstyle with an urban flair,” says Burgess.

Burgess used Invisible Roller & Working Hairspray to achieve this curly wave with minimal hot tools. “You can get the desired look while reversing signs of chemical damage at the same time,” he adds.

Pixie Cut Finger Waves

Pixie Cut Finger Waves
Instagram @meekzhairsalon

This gorgeous Hollywood pixie cut with finger waves was created by salon owner and stylist Yumika Grigsby of Houston, TX.  “This S-shaped style can be played up or down. I decided on deep, bold finger waves,” explains Grigsby.

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,” she adds.

Classic Finger Waves in Half-Up Hairstyle

Classic Finger Waves in Half-Up Hairstyle
Instagram @mollies_magic_hairspray

This sleek hairstyle trend 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

Finger Waves for Short Hair
Instagram @blackcat_amberdawn

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

Quick Weave Finger Waves

Quick Weave Finger Waves
Instagram @earnestlynatural

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.

Soft Finger Waves

Soft Finger Waves
Instagram @shearenvybyjann

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 more modern finger waves styles.

Finger Waves on Black Hair

Finger Waves on Black Hair
Instagram @twinsunisexsalontheglambar

The brilliant thing about making black hair 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.

Finger Waves in 1920s Style

Finger Waves in 1920s Style
Instagram @flamingoamy

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

Finger Waves for Long Hair

Finger Waves for Long Hair
Instagram @pinkcombbeauty

This dapper look 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.

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 the hair long, it creates a mohawk cut effect,” explains hairstylist Amaris Crawford of Duluth, GA.

“Use light mousse to form messy curls on the main waves on the side,” says Crawford. “This sleek curly hair is great for someone who is 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.”

Super Short Finger Waves

Super Short Finger Waves
Instagram @chic_by_mik

This edgy and chic finger-waved hairstyle was created by salon owner and stylist Tamika Tucker of New Castle, DE.” Those deep waves can be dressed up or down and is easy to maintain,” says Tucker.

Tucker suggests you get a relaxer or texturizer to achieve this hairstyle unless your hair texture permits a flat, polished look. “There is nothing chic about puffy finger waves,” she adds.