The S-Wave Is Back — & Cooler Than Ever

Back in 2012, it seemed as if every celebrity to hit the red carpet was wearing an S-wave. (As a refresher, S-waves are old-Hollywood-inspired, brushed-out curls; you could also call them retro waves or a vintage set.) Veronica Lake was the style's poster girl in the '40s, and then, six decades later, everyone got on board, from Blake Lively to Beyoncé.
The translation was literal — a sharp side part, hair swooped over one eye, mirror-like shine — and it proved to be a revived red carpet hair trend that eventually fizzled out. But now, after season upon season of lived-in, air-dried texture reigning supreme, it appears that coiffed 'dos are making a comeback off the runway, too.
"If you look back through trends, we're always jumping from rough to smooth," celeb hairstylist Kristin Ess says."It's natural for us to be drawn to smoothness next." In fact, just the past few months have brought a huge uptick in those wearing the throwback style, only this time around it has a fresh spin. That's mostly thanks to the use of a beveled flat iron, Ess explains. "It used to be that we would just set the hair in big curls and brush them out. Now, we set the curls, brush them out, and perfect them with this iron."
The result is softer, almost a balance between a true '40s set and a beach wave. The secret? "Straightening the ends a little, quickly tapping the waves after they're brushed to loosen them up, or even creating stronger peaks and valleys," Ess says. "We used to be at the mercy of whatever comes out of the roller set. Now, we've got full control."
Ahead, we've rounded up shining (literally) examples of the resurgence over the past few months, from Anne Hathaway's bigger, bouncier set to Zendaya's mermaid-y take. Ready your irons, gather your clips, and prepare to re-embrace the '40s wave.

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