One of the hottest looks recently on the red carpet is a modern take on a vintage style—polished, soft tendrils with texture that appear to be created with finger waves. Nicole Richie’s version dazzles with glamour, but we also love the takes by other celebs shown below.

Nicole Richie's Modern Finger Waves
 Nicole Richie/Getty Images
Nicole Richie's Modern Finger Waves
Debi Mazar/Getty Images


The right tools will help you create a similar look. Sam Villa, founding partner of the Sam Villa® brand and education artistic director for Redken 5th Avenue, has a smart technique that creates waves with a Marcel iron, combining a spiral curl with a flat wrap, which he appropriately calls “Red Carpet Waves.”

Want more coverage of red carpet style? Don’t forget to tune into the Oscars with Modern Salon on February 27. Our editors will be chatting live on Facebook about the hair, the makeup, and the best and worst looks of the night—you won’t want to miss it!

Red Carpet Waves
Tools Needed: Sam Villa Signature Series Wide Tooth Comb, Marcel iron, Redken Forceful 23 hairspray

1. Begin with the first diagonal section. Gather the section, elevate to 90 degrees with thumb and index finger, and over direct to the corner of the client’s eye.

Nicole Richie's Modern Finger Waves
Kate Bosworth/Getty Images 

2. Place the Marcel iron in front of the section with the barrel of the iron behind the section. (Be sure to keep the hair in fingers close to the barrel at all times.)

3. Holding the section, face thumbnail up and then twist the hair so thumbnail is facing the floor, slide down and wrap.

4. Slide the hair up the barrel making sure to keep thumbnail close to the barrel without closing the blade. (Closing the blades of the barrel will produce lines of demarcation inside the crest.)

Nicole Richie's Modern Finger Waves
 Heidi Klum/Getty Images


5. Repeat the motions until the end of the section: Wrap, twist, thumbnail up, thumbnail down, wrap, twist, thumbnail up, thumbnail, down, wrap….

6. Once to the end of the section, drop the elbow of the arm that is holding the Marcel iron, keeping hold of the section.

7. While holding the end of the section with the thumbnail, turn the Marcel iron in the opposite direction for more tension allowing the heat to do its job. (This creates the tension in the twists—the twist is the crest and the flat wrap is the valley.)

8. Release thumb and place the palm of hand underneath the barrel of the Marcel iron. Catch the hair in palm when released from the barrel. (If hair is just dropped without catching it, the section will stretch and become loose.)

9. With the section in palm, spray two shots of Redken Forceful 23 hairspray. Pancake and compress the section in both palms. (The hair will be very hot!)

Nicole Richie's Modern Finger Waves
 Kim Cattrall/Getty Images



10. Allow the hair to cool—be patient. Release the section from palm.

11. Take wide-tooth comb and, using the end with the teeth spaced apart, place the palm of hand behind the section. Slowly comb through the section to the ends resulting in beautiful Red Carpet Waves.

12. Continue with diagonal sections to complete the head.

Debi Mazar/Getty ImagesKate Bosworth/Getty ImagesKim Cattrall/Getty ImagesHeidi Klum/Getty Images