Monday, January 14, 2013

Finger Waves Tutorial

The  request for a finger waves tutorial have spoken and I was finally able to get with my girlfriend Tre to do a quick picture tutorial for you ladies on finger waves. She's a busy lady!

First, finger waves are very hard to do. I asked a few friends of mine, all hairstylist, how hard finger waves are to achieve based on a scale of one to ten. Each person told me that at a minimum finger waves are an eight to nine to do on others/clients and a ten, without question, to do on ones self. Do not get discouraged with this style. It will take multiple attempts to get it right and make it look the way that you desire.

Second, with finger waves there is no such thing as too much water. The wetter the hair, the easier it is to mold. If you can't get the hair to do what you want, add more water.
Lastly, if you want your waves to look good you will need to spend thirty minutes to an hour setting the waves. This is not a style that can be achieved, at least in the beginning, by rushing or cutting corners.
Let's get started...

What items you will need to achieve finger waves:

Rat comb, teasing brush, comb/pick

Wave combs, not required but highly recommended

Small curlers of any type and bobby pins

Pomade, setting lotion, gel, or fiber gum putty


Close up of the putty. It looks and feels a little like snot.


Water, water, and more water

Start by wetting your hair with a spray bottle or in the shower, then apply your product of choice. For Tre's hair, I put in a quarter size amount of the fiber gum putty and a dime size amount of pomade.

Remember, there is no such thing as too wet

Decide where you want your hair to part. I was lazy and didn't make Tre's hair part crisp like I should have.

Do not fight your hairs natural inclination to go forward or backward. Tre's hair wants to go backward on both sides at the part and looks very forced and awkward when we tried to go forward. Your hair may be just the opposite. Either way just go with it. Comb the hair back at an angle of your preference and smooth it out on the scalp as much as possible.

Once you have included the hair you want in the wave place your fingers firmly on the scalp and then start to comb the hair at the opposite angle. It is recommended that you use one to three fingers per wave. To achieves Tre's look above, use two fingers for each wave.

Your waves should look similar to the one below. It should have an obvious ridge where you combed the wave in the opposite direction.


Place a wave clip on the ridge if you have them. If not, be very careful not to disturb the ridge.

We were a little rushed for this tutorial. You should not have gaps in your
hair like hers does.... that's my fault

You will continue to comb the hair in opposing directions making ridges with each directional change.

You will eventually get to a stopping place (typically four waves). Any hair leftover should be put into a curler or made into a pin curl.

Now do the same thing to the other side.

For this tutorial we only curled the back of her hair. We realized most people will not be able to successfully finger wave that area.

Now you have to let your hair dry. If you have a standing dryer it will take approximately an hour to dry your hair. If you do not have a standing dryer, expect your hair to take no less than four hours to dry; if you have thick hair double that to no less than eight hours. Tre's hair took eight hours to air dry for the 1940's Christmas Ball.

I'm lucky I have a standing dryer

Now that you've let your hair dry completely, go ahead and take out your bobby pins, rollers, wave clips, etc. Your hair should stay set afterwards (like below).

Because I was rushed setting her hair it will look better brushed out. I used my teasing brush (the middle brush in the second picture) to gently brush her finger waves so that the blended out the blank spots.

You can stop here if you want a soft yet harder wave

Or continue brushing until you are happy!

Do the same thing on the other side so that both sides match.

The back of the hair can either be super curly and fluffy or brushed out into waves. Both options look beautiful.

For the 1940's Christmas Ball, we didn't brush Tre's waves at all because I took my time and did each wave correctly. We also only finger brushed her curls because they were also set in a brick pattern.

Let me know if you have any questions about finger waves. I am happy to answer them.

As a sidenote, don't forget today is the last day you can enter the Custom Snood Giveaway. I will be drawing a winner on Tuesday, January 15th!

Baci Tutti!


  1. Hello HRF! thank you! this is very useful tutorial. I found finger waves very difficult to do too, because my hair is so long and thick. I usually follow this video:
    Next time, I'll place some wave clips on the ridge. Very good tip!

    Looking forward to seeing the winner tomorrow :D
    Lorena xx

    1. I understand about the length. Curl the ends and that will help you immensely.

      I am a huge fan of her other video (here:

      Wave clips are super helpful. You'll more easily achieve the style you want.

  2. Great tutorial! You are a pro!

  3. I adore finger waves. So 20's, but I don't have time to make it all the time, but adore it :)

    1. It does take a long period of time to make them perfect. Give them a try some afternoon when you have plenty of time to just let them air dry.

  4. That is great and useful tutorial, thank you!



  6. What a fantastic tutorial - it's certainly not everyday you see one that involves a standing drier. Your hair turned out so gorgeously, and I feel even more inspired to try finger waves (surely they can be done on a wig, I'd imagine, especially if it was a real hair wig) myself someday now myself, too.

    ♥ Jessica

    1. Well the standing dryer, luckily, is not required. I just wanted to use it because I have one.

      I think you could probably do the style with your wig. Give it a try one day when you have some spare time on your hands.