Discover the history of Hollywood waves & how to recreate this timeless style yourself

Beth | 03 August 2017

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 hairstyle?

The 1930s60s are widely regarded as the ‘Golden Age of Hollywood’, with the famous movie stars of the era (think Marilyn Monroe, Martha Hyer and Grace Kelly) bringing this glamorous style to the masses.

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. So now that you know where this style originated, it’s time for you to take on the trend yourself, using our foolproof step-by-step tutorial, below!

How to create classic Hollywood waves like the stars


Prep your strands.

Ready to take on old Hollywood waves? Start by applying a heat protect spray, like the TONI&GUY Heat Protection Mist, to your hair. This will help to limit any heat damage caused by the curling wand later on in the tutorial.


Create a side parting.

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


Divide your hair into sections.

To create the sweeping, curled side fringe that Hollywood waves are famous for, take your tail comb again and use it to section off your fringe from the rest of your hair.


Curl your fringe.

Then, take this front section of your hair and wrap it around your curling iron (we recommend the TONI&GUY Glamour Jumbo Tong for creating glam, voluminous curls!).

Don’t forget to wrap the hair towards your face, not away from it, as this will help you to create the characteristic Hollywood waves hair look. Hold in place for a few seconds then release, catching the curl and using a sectioning clip to pin it in place to cool.


Curl the rest of your hair.

Once you’ve got the front section of your hair out of the way, it’s time to get started curling the rest of your mane.

Taking pieces of hair around 2-3 inches thick at a time, work your way around your head until all of your strands has been curled and pinned.


Brush out your curls.

Once you’ve given your curls enough time to properly cool, take your pins out one by one to release your waves. And don’t worry if your curls are looking a bit too ringlet-like at this point – this is normal!

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


Final look.

And last but not least, ensure your old Hollywood waves last all night by giving them an allover spritz with a strong-hold hairspray, such as the TRESemmé Firm Hold Hairspray.

For an extra touch of glamour, you can also add a spritz of shine spray, like the TONI&GUY Finishing Shine Spray, for the ultimate red carpet-ready style!

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!

Include an "@" in email address
Thank you. You have now subscribed to the All Things Hair newsletter.