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Finger Waves and Pin Curls: 8 Inspiring Hair Styles

It’s hard to think of the 1920s without conjuring up images of the illustrious flappers, who astonished the world with their fringed dresses, bold makeup, and racy lifestyles. These strong women had great taste in hair and clothes. They also had steadfast beliefs that helped pave the way for many of the freedoms women enjoy today.

Back then, straight hair was not the rage that it is today. Curls were the name of the game. Specifically, women would go to the salon to get their hair twisted and pinned to their heads — a technique known as pin curls. Let the curls set without heat for a few hours or overnight. Pop out those pins and you’re left with lovely “finger waves.” The waves can be set close to the head in an S-shape or, for longer hair, let down for a freer, messier style.

Blond woman with retro makeup and finger waves with text overlay.
Source: Canva.

Although we’re a century past their peak in popularity, you occasionally see A-listers wearing these styles today. The effect is retro glam, which could have a role to play in your style repertoire. Below are some of the best moderation iterations for short, medium, and long hair.

Finger waves for short hair

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A post shared by Tynisha Barnes (@t.techniques)

Pixie cuts and short black hair look amazing with finger waves. The effect is structured and classy. It begs to be worn with fake eyelashes and doe-eyed liner.

Pin curls for medium hair

With medium-length hair or longer, you have more options. You can use pin curls to set a tight curl and loosen it gently with your fingers. Or you can soften the resulting wave with a hair brush and spray. How much time you spend brushing out the curls changes the look. You can also skip the finger wave and leave some or all of your hair pinned up.

@missbeetownsend shows us how to do your own pin curls. She uses the technique, along with some teasing and brushing, to create a sexpot pageboy style.

You could alternatively pin part of your hair back, pin curl the front section, and leave it pinned.

Or, use pins to get a soft wave for the hair around your face and tie the rest back.

Finger waves for long hair

Pin curls let out of longer hair can create stunning waves, or ample volume in updos. Leave some or all the hair pinned to create the appearance of more or less hair.

Experimenting with pin curls

There are many pin curl tutorials on YouTube and Instagram. Find one you like, invest in a bunch of bobby pins or duck bill hair clips. The next step should be to decide what look you want. You can use pin curls to create a fun and retro updo, or use pin curls to get a sexy finger wave on any length hair. You could also do both — half-up, half-down styles are better with pin curls.

Then, start experimenting. There are no rules to follow here, other than to love your look when you’re done.

Queen Bee of Beverly Hills

Tuesday 14th of August 2012

This style is so classy and simple. I can't wait for it to pick up this fall!

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