Edited by Amanda Gabriele on
If you’ve seen photos of stylish women in the 1920s and 1930s, you have seen the Marcel Wave. A close cousin to the very difficult and time-consuming finger wave hairstyle, the Marcel Wave uses heat to set the style instead of gel and stiff fingers. Invented by Francois Marcel in the 19th century, this famous hairstyle is easy enough to do at home. Just check out the five simple steps below to get your flapper on in no time.
1. Spray condition dry hair. To make sure your hair looks lustrous and smooth, apply a leave-in conditioning spray to dry hair. Brush it through with a bristle brush. Bumble and Bumble Prep and Living proof. No Frizz Restyling Spray are both great conditioning, style-prep sprays. There are bristle hair brushes in all shapes and price ranges, and you can get a good one at your local drug store. But the Mason Pearson Boar Bristle Hairbrush and Acca Kappa Professional Pro Boar Bristle Hair Brush are both great products if you’re having trouble finding something.
2. Hot roller your head. Divide your hair into a deep side part. Put hot rollers all over your head, rolling them under, not over. All sizes will work, but 1 1/2 – 2 inch rollers are best. All sets will have different instructions on how long to leave them in, but until they are cool to the touch or 25-45 minutes should do the trick. You might need to play around with times depending on your hair’s weight and texture. The Conair Hot Rollers Xtreme Instant Heat and Remington T-Studio Ceramic Heated Clip Hair Rollers with Tourmaline are both great sets. When complete, brush out your curls with the bristle brush.
3. Pin hair back so it stays out of the way. This should be done on the side of your head with more hair, the side with hair sweeping across your forehead from the other side. Using a rat tail comb, split the hair into two sections, starting at the part in the middle of your crown, all the way down to the front of your ear. With a duckbill clip, pin the hair behind your ear back so it stays out of the way. Rat tail combs are easy to find, but the NUBONE II 700-Auto Weave Comb and T3 Tourmaline Carbon Comb are good bets. Salon Care Metal Duckbill Clips work great and are cheap too.
4. Protect your hair from heat. Spray the front section of hair with a heat protectant. Make sure to let it dry completely before you begin using the curling iron, or you will cause more damage. Most hair care lines have heat styling protection sprays like TRESemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Protective Spray and Frederic Fekkai Defense Thermal/UV Protectant.
5. Curl your hair in the Marcel Wave-style. Starting right above the eyebrow, on that front section of hair, clamp the iron down and hold for 10-15 seconds. Be careful not to burn yourself. Flip the iron upside down and clamp it to the piece of hair right under your first wave. Repeat these two steps, flipping the iron each time. A 1.5-2 inch barrel works the best, like the Vidal Sassoon VS132 1-1/2″ Curling Iron, Conair Infiniti Professional Tourmaline Ceramic Curling Iron or Hot Tools Professional Spring 2″ Curling Iron. Pin your hair up and back as you please, leaving the Marcel Waves swept across your forehead.
If you’re more of a visual person and need to see a video, the below from Jasmine is a great demonstration of Marcel Wave styling: