What Kind of Hair Product for Finger Waves?

Use gel for finger waves like the look Evan Rachel Wood sported at LACMA's Art and Film Gala in Los Angeles in 2011.

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Styling finger waves means you need at least a small arsenal of products to prep your tresses for '20s-inspired S-shaped curls -- sadly, they don't appear all on their own. Coaxing out these glamorous, blast-from-the-past waves is a cinch when you have your essentials ready and waiting. Your products need to work together to provide lasting control so your waves last all day and all night. So gather up those few styling products and you're ready for your va-va-vintage makeover -- it's really that simple.


For women with any hair type, gel is your best friend when you're creating finger waves. You need this product to lock your hair into place, whether you're styling your hair the old-fashioned way with a comb or the not-so-strenuous way with curlers. Oh, and don't worry about ending up with super-crunchy tresses -- just make sure you reach for a bottle of flexible hold gel. Newer gel formulations offer all the control you're looking for without the crunch factor.

Leave-In Conditioner

Women with naturally curly or wavy hair who aren't interested in super-sculpted waves can skip out on the gel, which can make your curls appear extremely coiled. However, for smooth, frizz-free strands, you still need a product that will add control to your hair while you style it. Simply slather on a leave-in conditioner while hair is wet, wrap your tresses around your fingers to set the curls, then let the hair fall in its twisted shapes. Allow your hair to air dry, then push your waves into the desired style. Curly girls, you can stretch your curls and secure them behind your ears with tonal bobby pins.

A Comb

You need a comb to set your waves if you're not using a curling iron or curlers. Don't worry -- this method is really simple, and the more surefire way to end up with a genuinely vintage style. Use your comb to create a deep, even side part after applying a control product to your hair. Beginning at your part with the hair nearest your face, drag the comb through your hair, creating an approximately 1-inch-long C-shape. Create a reverse C-shape within the next 1-inch section of hair. Continue alternating your C-shapes as you reach the nape of your neck, where you can secure longer hair with a bobby pin until it dries. Feel free to create finger waves only in the front of your hair, or continue throughout. Once your hair is dry, your look is ready.

Curling Iron or Curlers

Particularly when you're not in the mood to spend time creating waves with a comb, or if your hair tends to need heat styling to hold a wave, reach for a product that creates the curls for you. Add gel or leave-in conditioner to your hair, then blow it dry with a paddle brush until it is as smooth as possible. For quick on-the-go styling, grab a jumbo-barrel curling iron and curl 1-inch-wide strips of hair near your face, pinning them with tonal bobby pins for your finger wave look. Or set your entire head of hair with jumbo curlers. Comb through your curls with your fingertips and sweep your waves to the side.

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