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Making waves: perfecting the ripple effect hair

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Finger waves instantly conjure up images of Gatsby-esque glamour, an iconic vintage style which was the height of elegance. As with most iconic fashions, hair trends tend to come full circle, being reinvented for the wearer with clever twists by talented stylists. The finger wave has been around since the 1920's when they were used to soften and add interest to the popular short bob hairstyles worn by flappers. The Marcel wave, which looks very similar to the finger wave, was also popular but created using a hot tong rather than, as the name suggests, with fingers. Feeling a tad flapper-girl this summer? Well, here's our guide to creating the perfect ripple hairstyle to suit any length of hair.

How do I achieve it at home?

Yearning for a glamorous rippled look? It's not as complicated as it may seem. Start by making sure you have some strong gel, or pomade, and a thin tooth comb to hand. Either work with your hair damp, or use the gel to style when dry. This look works best on hair with a sharp parting, sectioning off into around three to four inches wide. Work the pomade or gel into each section, using just enough to give it a slight hold, but avoiding a greasy over processed look. Start one inch above the ear on one side of the head. Take the comb, brush down slightly into hair, and push forward towards the face, holding above the comb with your forefinger. Keeping the comb in the hair, push the hair up slightly, and drag the comb back creating an S shape in hair, placing your middle finger under the bend created. You can clip to hold and continue the method on the next lower piece of hair. You will see a pattern begin to form, which you can follow around the head. When you have created your finger waves, blow dry using a low heat to set and then remove the clips. Finish with a strong hold hairspray.

Creating this waved look takes practice but there is a way to cheat the system if you're not feeling too adventurous! Invest in some long butterfly clips, which will pinch the section of hair into the desired wave shape. You can get shorter versions of the clip dependent on the coverage you want. This will help define the wave and set in place. If you want a softer finish, brush through waves gently with a soft boar bristle brush. This is also a great way to get rid of any harsh section lines and give a more romantic feel.

A wave of inspiration

The finger wave style is incredibly versatile, and can be adjusted to suit those with long or short hair. Instantly transforming a look from day to night, the style makes the hair into an accessory itself, with nothing further needed for a truly show stopping look. For ladies with longer hair, soft finger waves can bring an essence of old school Hollywood glamour, and is often a red carpet style staple for celebrities such as Reese Witherspoon and Amy McAdams. For these larger waves, a behind the scenes tip is to roll a hairspray can after spraying onto hair between the peaked waves to smooth flyaways and define. As the stylists for Marc Jacobs models illustrated recently, you can make this look modern and edgy by leaving the ends of hair natural, giving the perfect juxtaposition between the slick wave and natural texture of hair. On the Jenny Packham catwalk, models wore a modern take on the trend that showed off a simple section of hair at the front, waved in around four inch sections, with the rest of the length left straight. It was a casual spin on the trend, that was soft and nonchalant: making it suitable for everyday wear.

Styles are somewhat limited with shorter hair, but the finger wave can help to add some interest to plain styles or crops. Take inspiration from Beyonce with her blonde finger wave crop, or Nicole Ritchie's more boho take on the trend with a soft, textured finish. Finger waves are also the perfect way to cheat a bob, tuck longer lengths up into loose roll and follow the finger wave technique on the top layer of hair. Finish with a 20's style band or brooch clip for a vintage look.

When it comes to accompanying makeup look toward Charlize Theron's red carpet finger wave style, which she perfectly complimented with a gold palette of make-up. Bronzed and sculpted cheeks, with a soft pearlescent eye and simple nude lip, ensured the impact of her high gloss waves really shone through. A bold lip with a dewy base can give a vintage look, or you could mix eras and go for a cat flick finish with your eyeliner, mirroring more rock'n'roll styles.

The finger wave can be a tricky trend to get the hang of, so try to practice on friends and ask your stylist for some advice. It's a great look to disguise a fringe you are growing out, hiding greasy hair, or avoiding that bedraggled look after getting caught in the rain -- all whilst looking super stylish. Still fumbling with your finger wave? Get in touch with one of our expert stylists who'd be more than happy to give you a helping hand.

Featured article image (cropped) credit:  Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock.com

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