How to Do Finger Waves to the Side

Side finger waves like Reese Witherspoon's complement an elegant outfit without being overpowering.
... Jason Merritt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Finger waves that fall to the side add an instant dose of vintage glamor to any look. They first arrived on the scene in the 1920s and haven't truly left. They serve as a step up from tight ringlets and beachy waves, while looking equally at home with a simple black dress or beaded gown. While the style is vintage, it is easy to create using modern tools. Channel your inner flapper for your next event with striking finger waves to the side.

Plug a 1-inch curling wand in and wait for it to heat up to medium heat. Small curling wands create structured vintage style waves and curls quickly, without leaving creases in your hair.

Brush your dry hair from root to tip with a paddle brush. Paddle brushes remove tangles without causing breakage and distribute your hair's natural oils to encourage shine.

Smooth a dime-sized amount of hair oil through the bottom 2 inches of your hair. Choose an argan- or coconut oil-based product to protect your hair from heat while softening. A dime-sized amount is enough for shoulder length hair.

Pull all your hair over one shoulder. Insert a duck-bill clip at the nape of your neck to keep your hair in place.

Divide your hair into 1-inch-wide sections. Pin each section up with bobby pins, leaving the section closest to the bottom of your hairline undone.

Pull the remaining section of hair taut and hold the curling wand next to it, vertically. Place the root against the wand and wrap the section around it toward your face, until only 1/2-inch of hair remains between your fingers and the wand. Hold your hair against the wand for 10 seconds and release it. Repeat on all sections, working your way up.

Remove the duck-bill clip from the back of your hair. Pick up a dime-sized amount of pomade between your fingertips. Gently smooth it over the hair on the side of your head without curls, pulling it toward the back of your head. This will tame frizz and help to keep your hair in the side-swept position. Replace the duck-bill clip with bobby pins in the same color as your hair to keep it in place without standing out.

Brush through the curls with the paddle brush to loosen them further into waves. Gather all the waves with one hand and pull them taut from the end. Insert a duck-bill clip over the waves, with the open end facing the back of your head 1 inch from the root. Pull the section below the first clip loosely and insert another clip 1 inch from the ends of your hair. This will set the waves into the finger wave style as they cool.

Leave the duck-bill clips in your hair until it cools completely. This should take between 10 and 15 minutes.

Hold a can of strong hairspray 10 inches away from your head and coat your hair once. Concentrate on the area at the back where the bobby pins sit, as well as on the waves.

  • Unplug the curling wand as soon as you are done using it.
  • If you don't have a curling wand, you can substitute a curling iron with the clamp closed.

Celeigh O'Neil has been writing professionally since 2008. She has a Bachelor of fine arts from the University of Ottawa, as well as degrees in fashion illustration/design, digital arts and certification in hair and makeup artistry. O'Neil was a frequent contributor to Toronto's "Dialog" newspaper and has worked as an instructional writer, creating lessons in fashion, art and English for students of all ages.