Hollywood waves: Get instant red carpet-worthy hair with our step-by-step guide

Beth | 11 December 2017
still shot of model with old hollywood waves hairstyle, wearing emerald green dress posing
10-15 Style Medium

Hollywood waves: The glitz, the glamour and the how-tos.



Ah Hollywood waves, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways… Popular among A-listers like Emma Stone and Reese Witherspoon, as well as brides and prom-goers alike, this iconic look has been well-loved for almost a century – and it’s clearly not going anywhere! But what actually are Hollywood waves and what sets them apart from other wavy hairstyles?

The classic Hollywood waves that we all know and love combine 3 key factors: a deep side parting, big, soft curls and, of course, masses of shine. And guess what? We’ve teamed up with E! to help you #beathairboredom and asked Instagram star Ana Tanaka to create a quick step-by-step tutorial, showing you how to get the look at home!

How to get glam Hollywood waves with Ana Tanaka

brunette model blow drying her hair

Apply mousse and blow dry.

Ready to get Hollywood waves? Start by applying a volumising mousse, like the TRESemmé Volume and Lift Mousse, to damp hairThis will give your strands the fabulous bounce and body they needs to hold your curls!

After you’ve done this, blowdry your hair like a pro. Not sure how? Just follow our handy guide, here!

back shot of brunette model sectioning her hair

Create a side parting and section.

Next, to create the side-swept effect that the Hollywood screen sirens did so well, use a tail comb to create a neat side parting.

Then use the comb to section your hair from front to back, clipping away the front sections for now — we’ll worry about them later!

shot of brunette model curling her hair

Curl your hair.

Then, taking pieces of hair around 2-3 inches thick, wrap it around your curling iron (we’re always using the TONI&GUY Glamour Jumbo Tong for creating glam, siren-worthy waves!).

Don’t forget to wrap the hair towards your face, not away, as this will help you to create the characteristic Hollywood waves hair look. Hold in place for a few seconds then release.

back shot of model with pin curled hair

Clip in place.

Once you’ve released your curl, wrap the strand of hair around your fingers to create a loop. Then slide a clip into the curl to help secure it firmly in place.

Continue taking pieces of hair around 2-3 inches thick at a time, working your way around your head until all of your strands have been curled and pinned.


Remove all the clips.

Once you’ve given your curls enough time to properly cool, undo the clips one by one to release them. Don’t worry if your curls are looking too ringlet-like at this point – this is normal!

shot of model brushing out her curls looking to camera

Brush and set with hairspray.

To transform your tight curls into soft, Hollywood waves, simply take a large paddle brush and gently pull it through your curls to give them a loose finish.

And last but not least, ensure your classic Hollywood waves last all night by giving them an allover spritz of the the TRESemmé Extra Hold Spray.

still shot of model with old hollywood waves hairstyle, wearing emerald green dress posing

Final look.

Ultra glamourous, vintage-inspired waves = sorted! Wasn’t that fun? Now go fourth and get ready to make your next event your very own red carpet.

How to create sultry side-swept Hollywood waves


asian model with long dark hair styled to the side in old hollywood waves
Tucking your curls to the side is an A-list approved way to rock the Hollywood waves hair trend. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

Now that you’ve got the basic Hollywood waves method down, why not play around with different variations of the look, such as side-swept curls?

Jessica Chastain and Megan Fox are big fans of this look, and if it’s good enough for them, it’s certainly good enough for us!

Essentially a more sultry version of old Hollywood waves, it’s the perfect flirty date-night style if you’re out to impress! Find out how to steal this style, below.

asian model pumping dove hair oil into her palms
Oil is key for smoothing down flyaways for a picture-perfect finish! Credit: Verity Jane Smith

To transform your regular Hollywood waves into a sultry side-swept variation, follow the basic steps above. The only difference is, instead of leaving your curls to hang loose after brushing them out, sweep them over one shoulder and use bobby pins to secure the back of your hair into place.

To prevent frizz from ruining your precise part and ensure that your glam goddess look stays perfectly pristine, work a few pumps of an oil or serum through your mid-lengths and ends.

Et voila: you’re ready for your red carpet close-up!


Looking for more ways to rock waves? Head on over to our Wavy Hairstyles page now, where you’ll find everything from the perfect beachy wave tutorial to our tried-and-tested methods for creating waves without heat. It’s all wavy, baby!

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