How to do the 1940s wave hairstyle

Wavy hairstyles can sometimes be a bit tricky. You don't want your hair to look frizzy, but if you use too much product it will just stick to your head, so it's important to find a happy medium. Women in the 1940s wore their hair perfectly-styled but natural at the same time. The wave hairstyle was worn by film stars like Rita Hayworth and Katharine Hepburn. To recreate this look, just follow our step-by-step guide below.

To begin with, your hair should be washed and in a side parting. Divide your hair into three sections around your head. The best way to do this is to divide it behind your ears. Take the hair on the thicker side of the parting and the back section and clip them behind your head so they are not in your way.

Take the section on the thin side of your parting and divide it into two so that you have a top section and a bottom section. Take a medium heated roller and roll it under the top section of your hair. Then secure it to your head with a hair grip so that it stays in place. Do the same for the bottom section.

Now take the hair clips out of the rest of your hair. Take a large, thick section, about 6cm (2.3inches) wide, at the front of your hair. Roll a large roller underneath it and pin it to the front of your head.

Take the rest of your hair and divide it into sections about the same size as the ones on the thinner side of the parting. Put a medium sized roller into each section, only this time roll it into the top side of your hair instead of underneath. Continue doing this until all sections are done.

Wait for your hair to cool down. This should take around 15 minutes. Then take out all of the rollers and brush your hair a little so that the waves look more natural. Don't brush it took much as it will make it look frizzy.

Take a section of hair from the thinner side of the parting (a little bit smaller than the first section) and pin it back behind your ear with a hair grip. Use some hair balm on that side if there are any bits sticking out.

Finally, arrange the front section of your hair so that you can see the wave. Then spray a small amount of hairspray on to secure the look.


Be careful not to load your hair with too much product as it can end up looking flat. 1940s hair is all about being as natural as possible.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 Hair clips
  • Medium and large heated rollers
  • Hair grips
  • Hairbrush
  • Hair balm/wax
  • Hairspray
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About the Author

Angela Gartzen has more than five years of translation experience. She studied international communication and translation at the Universidad Pablo de Olavide in Seville, Spain. Whilst there she also translated for the university translating course syllabi. Gartzen has worked as a translator/proofreader for PONS GmbH on an Italian-English dictionary project and is a German brand manager for