How To Get Celebrity-Style Vintage Waves at Home

They're actually pretty easy!
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Natacha Medeiros
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They're actually pretty easy!
Vintage waves tutorial

For months now, I’ve been lusting after the luscious wavy hair that countless starlets have been wearing on and off the big screen (The Great Gatsby, anyone?). Silky, smooth and oh-so-sexy, these waves have always looked way too complicated for my limited hair skills. (Fine, what I can do with my nails is another story.)

But with a little practice, I've finally figured out a way to get this style just right. And if I can master the perfect vintage wave? It should be a breeze for you.

Step 1

Start with dry, au naturel hair.

Vintage waves tutorial step 1

I washed mine the night before, let it air-dry a little, and then went to sleep.  While this photograph is SO not what I looked like when I woke up, it’s definitely my straight-out-of-bed, untouched hair. You'll probably want to run a comb through it for good measure. (Confession: I almost never brush my hair. Is that a sin?)

Step 2

I parted my hair as usual (in the centre), but for a more authentic vintage look, a deep side part would be even better. Then, divide it into three sections (bottom, middle and top). For now, we will just need the bottom third, so let that down and keep the rest tied up.

Vintage waves tutorial step 2

Step 3

Working with about 1-inch thick sections of hair, start curling!

Vintage waves tutorial step 3a

You have to absolutely make SURE that you curl each section in the same direction, curling away from your face. If each section is doing its own thing, going all over the place, then you won’t end up with the vintagey look we're going for here.

This is what you want each curl to look like:

Vintage waves tutorial step 3b

Repeat all through the bottom third section of hair you've let down, and set with hairspray if you’d like. [Editor's note: If your curls tend to fall, definitely don't skip the hairspray step both before and after curling. You can also pin your sections up immediately after curling, so they cool off in the same shape.]

Step 4

Vintage waves tutorial step 4a

Let the next section of your hair down while tying the top third up. Then repeat the process again. Remember: ONE DIRECTION (pun intended?)!

Vintage waves tutorial step 4b

You’re going for ringlet-style curls (for now—don’t fret!), so they should look similar to this once the section is done. Get hairspray happy if you’re feeling it.

Vintage waves tutorial step 4c

Step 5

Now, on to the last section. Let the rest of your hair down and keep on curlin’ like it’s nobody’s business.

Vintage waves tutorial step 5a

You’re almost there! Your hair should be channeling Shirley Temple at this point, so you should end up with a head of ringlets like this:

Vintage waves tutorial step 5b

Step 6

Now, take a fine-toothed comb or paddle brush and get right in there!

Vintage waves tutorial step 6a

This will break down that intense curl and shape them into soft, smooth-looking waves with that vintage flair.

Vintage waves tutorial step 6b

And THAT’S IT! Just comb through your entire head and I swear, you’re done! I added a final coat of hairspray because my curls fall like there’s no tomorrow.

Vintage waves tutorial step 6c

Now how easy was that?! You can see from the waves why it's so important to curl in the same direction—it makes them all flow together, creating that seamless, retro style that we've seen on many a red carpet. You could wear them down, tuck one side behind your ear, or even add a sparkly hair accessory if you wanted to dial up the vintage vibe.

Need a recap? Three sections; curl, curl, curl (in ONE direction); then comb out! So simple, it hurts.

Have your say

Are you a fan of these vintage waves on the red carpet?
Have you ever tried them yourself?
Got any other great tips for (or questions about) getting this look at home?