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Video Tutorial: Retro Waves How-To with Celeb Hair Stylist Charles Baker Strahan

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retro waves via pin curls_Scarlett Johansson

He's worked with Scarlett Johansson, Leighton Meester and Mariah Carey, showed us how to tame flyaways with a makeup brush and hairspray, and helped us create edgy, rock'n'roll waves as well as the pinned-down pony tail. Now celebrity hair stylist Charles Baker Strahan shows us how to achieve beautifully soft, shiny retro waves perfect for that New Year's shindig, hot date, or whatever occasion you like. Thursday? How's Thursday?

Once again, multi-tasking master Charles Baker Strahan offers a gazillion helpful little tips that help take our hair-styling efforts from fine to fabulous, all the while working the hot iron and pin curls to demonstrate this retro waves how-to. Best advice: Don't try for perfection (it scares people off), and back-combing can make your hair do what you want (it's not just for adding volume).

retro waves prep and tips recap

1) The beginning of this style appears in our previous video with Charles, our how-to for edgy rock'n'roll waves. He suggests starting with Herbal Essences Moroccan My ShineNourishing Shampoo ($4.99 at and Conditioner ($4.99 at for a softness and shine boost. Let hair air dry if you can, and follow with Herbal Essences Set Me Up Heat Protection Spray ($5.89 at and a hit of Herbal Essences Tousle Me Softly Tousling Spray Gel ($4.69 at

2) If you're working from previously styled hair, mist hair with Herbal Essences Set Me Up Heat Protection Spray ($5.89 at to prep for a new look via hot curling iron.

3) Curl random sections, taking care to slide the curling-iron wand right down to the ends before winding up. Hold for a couple of beats, gently slide the wand free, then with your fingers wind the new curl up and pin it against the side of the head.

4) "Don't try too hard. Perfect hair freaks me out," says Charles. "When every single hair's in place, you start to look like a beauty pageant queen or a doll, and that's not human. You become not touchable... and that's off-putting to whatever gender is looking at you to be the object of their affection. And isn't that really what we do this for, to make ourselves look and feel good so that we might look and feel good to somebody else?"

5) Charles says he loves a good pin-curl set, especially for this retro waves how-to. "It really does show that you put effort into your hair and your look, but it's not that hard."

Charles Baker Strahan professional curling iron_Hot Tools

6) The pro iron Charles uses is from Hot Tools. It has two settings and it gets really hot. "I generally use a higher heat setting and I keep the wand moving so it's not sitting in one spot for too long," he explains. "It causes less damage to use high heat quickly than to be slow with a lower heat you have to keep on the hair longer." It also makes hair super shiny because it smooths the cuticle so thoroughly.

7) Let hair cool completely, then release pin curls from the lowest row up to begin styling into your retro waves look.

8) "Backcombing helps keep sections together and makes it easier to shape," says Charles. "Backcombing basically tells the hair, 'you guys belong together.'" If you want your retro waves to have a classic Veronica Lake air, watch for Charles' tips with a few strategic clips and some hairspray.

retro waves_pin curls_leighton meester

9) Finish your retro waves style with a light mist of Herbal Essences Set Me Up Hairspray ($5.89 at, which delivers excellent hold, by the way.

10) Remember to finish your baby hairs, too! Smooth them down with a bit of Herbal Essences Set Me Up Texturizing Wax ($5.89 at, or use a toothbrush with a bit of hairspray to brush them into place.

Are you a retro waves kind of girl? Have you ever done a pin-curl set? Will you try?

Special thanks to model Allison Goodman.