Old Hollywood Waves: How to Create this Classic Style in 2 Ways

Get ready for your close-up.

old Hollywood waves blonde medium

There’s nothing quite like the glitz and glam of the American film industry during Hollywood’s Golden Age. For nearly three decades, Hollywood actors and actresses dazzled cinemas everywhere with their stunning looks and ensembles. One of the most iconic—and most beloved—hairstyles of the era were old Hollywood waves, popularized by film actresses who were idolized due to their morale-boosting glamour during that bleak, war-torn time.

The look features big, soft, sculpted waves with a side part and a show-stopping shine (the better to impress on the big screen too!). See how to get this undeniably beautiful, red carpet-worthy look in a few easy steps. Read on to discover how you can create old Hollywood waves in two ways:

Tutorial: Old Hollywood Waves


Start with clean hair.

This look is all about a glamorous polish seen from miles away, so prep your hair while in the shower with a shine-imparting system that gives a lightweight sleekness. We love the gleam we get from Dove Nutritive Solutions Clarify & Hydrate Shampoo and Conditioner. Towel-dry, then follow up with a thermal protectant to aid in smoothening and styling hair, such as TRESemmé Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray.

old Hollywood waves tutorial straight blonde hair

Blow-dry and detangle.

Blow-dry your hair on a medium setting until hair is completely dry. Run a fine-toothed comb through strands to make sure hair is completely smooth and tangle-free, creating a side part while doing so.

old Hollywood waves tutorial comb hair

Section off your fringe.

Using the end of a rat-tail or fishtail comb, section off your hairline from the rest of your hair.

woman with long straight blonde hair parting her hair

Curl your fringe.

Using a large, 2″ curling iron or wand, twirl the fringe area horizontally instead of vertically around the barrel. This method, which was also a much-buzzed-about runway trick, results in a structured Z-shaped wave as opposed to a loose, beachy curl.

old Hollywood waves tutorial curl hair

Repeat on remaining sections.

Continue curling your hair section-by-section, going in the same direction for more polish. Tip: For novices, you can also clamp the front area out of the way with a duckbill clip to help set the curl and also keep your vision free. Tip: To truly mimic the old Hollywood waves of the era, begin curling from your ear level.

woman with long straight blonde hair curling back of hair

Brush out your curls.

The game-changing step: carefully brushing out those curls! A soft-bristled brush helps separate those ringlets smoothly and aligns the waves into a uniform bend.

old hollywood waves tutorial brush hair


Finish with a shine-enhancing hairspray that also offers hold and control, like Bed Head by TIGI Masterpiece Shine Hairspray.

old Hollywood waves tutorial final hairstyle

Ed’s note: For a lighter look for everyday, run fingers through the hair once again after brushing out your curls for a more tousled, casual-chic feel.

Easy Way to Create Hollywood Waves

Step 1: Start on clean, washed hair.p

hollywood curls

Start off by washing your hair in preparation for a fresh and voluminous style. We love TRESemmé Volume Pro Pure Foam Shampoo and TRESemmé Pro Pure Light Moisture Conditioner. This shampoo is great because it gently removes impurities and adds a little extra bounce to your strands. This conditioner is great for many hair types because it can help add moisture and shine to your strands without weighing them down.

Step 2: Blow-dry your hair.

Part your hair to the side and then blow-dry with a round brush to create even more volume. Starting from the back of your head, position the hairbrush underneath the roots of each section of hair and place the blow-dryer, with concentration nozzle attached, at the top. Blow-dry your hair from the root-to-ends, continuing this process throughout your entire head. When you get to the front section of your hair, blow-dry in the direction you want your hair to fall. In this case, for the Hollywood look, blow-dry your hair up and away from the face.

Step 3: Create your curls.

Using a large curling iron, you’re now going to create loose and sexy curls. Section your hair starting from the back and clip away the rest of your hair. Place the curling iron to the mid-shaft of your section, then twirl your hair around the barrel. Hold for a few seconds then release. After each curl, pin curl the section. This will help set the curls. If you want a more wavy version of the curl, opt for a hair wand instead. Point the wand downward and wrap your hair around the barrel for a few seconds and release.

Step 4: Release pin curls.

hollywood curls
These Hollywood curls are perfect for many occasions!

After curling your entire head, remove your pin curls. Comb or brush through your hair to give it a fluffy and natural-looking finish. Lock your style in place with a lightweight hair spray, like Nexxus Styling Comb Thru Finishing Mist. We love this hair spray because it’s breathable and holds your style in place without making your hair feel stiff or crunchy.

Pro tip: To get the most out of your look, pin curl your hair at night and sleep on a silk pillowcase, or with a satin bonnet. In the morning release your pin curls, massage hair at the roots to help revive volume. Smooth a hair serum onto your hair if you need any extra shine. If hair becomes greasy throughout the week, apply dry shampoo at your roots, massage it in then gently brush through the hair.

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