Maybe it was my teenage obsession with the movie 500 Days of Summer or how I’ve always romanced anything and everything French. But for whatever reason, I’ve had a long-term, love-hate relationship with bangs. I’ve saved one too many Instagram photos of flawless models with perfectly-imperfect fringe to understand the disappointment of a haircut that over-promises and under-delivers. Sigh.
After scrolling too long on Instagram yourself, you might feel the urge to call your hairstylist. “I could pull this off!” you say, only to be reminded of how high maintenance, unpredictable, and often unruly bangs really are. If this sounds familiar, take heart in knowing we’ve all been there. The on-again-off-again relationship with bangs is universal. But I’m here to tell you there is hope. Perfectly-imperfect fringe, despite what the naysayers say, is attainable.
The wonderful thing about bangs is that there are endless styles to choose from. Baby bangs, curtain bangs, side-swept bangs, the inimitable Zooey Deschanel bangs–if you’re brave enough, try them all on for size. Experiment and have fun; it’s just hair, after all. But if you’re the indecisive type, hear me out. For bangs that are not only tolerable but adorable, here’s what’s worked for me.
1. Blunt bangs aren’t (always) your friend
Of course, lots of people rock this bold look, and face shapes should be taken into account. But from personal experience, I’ve found that subtly choppy bangs with edges that blend into the rest of your hair are a game-changer. Those slightly longer pieces do a wonderful job of framing your face, making your morning routine that much easier.
2. Master the delicate balance between too thick and too thin
This is both an art and a science, and sometimes it’s a matter of trial and error. But before you make your way into the hot seat at your next appointment, consider not just the length but the thickness you prefer. Ask your hairdresser to slowly cut into your bangs so you can get a sense of how wispy or heavy they should be. Somewhere right in the middle is what I recommend aiming for. This will make a world of difference in how manageable they are.
3. Be prepared for frequent trips to the salon
To have bangs is to accept the major upkeep that comes with them. Your stylist may offer complimentary bang trims, and if so, be sure to take advantage of this perk (just don’t forget to tip!). I beg of you, resist reaching for the scissors. I’ve learned the hard way over and over again.
4. Collect all the mini hair tools
Instead of the usual paddle brush, I love using a tiny round brush for some extra oomph. Blow-dry the ends of your bangs in opposite directions, and softly curl the middle section for a bit of volume and movement. Although my hair is naturally wavy and sometimes just straight out of control, this technique never fails.
A tiny flat iron is another must and can give your bangs a polished, sleek look. It’s also known for saving the day when they’re just a little out of whack. To spruce them up, apply heat protectant spray and repeat the same curling method you used with the round brush. I’ve found I can even skip the awkward bang wash if they’re in disarray just by using a flat iron.
5. Utilize hair clips and dry shampoo
Lately, I’ve been trying to limit how often I wash my hair to avoid stripping it of its natural oils. But bangs are another story. Too much dry shampoo is a no-go, but I’ve found that it can be extra helpful when used proactively. Sometimes after I’ve washed and styled my bangs, I like to lightly spray some dry shampoo on the roots to keep them lively and fresh all day long. And although not the cutest look, I make a habit at night of pinning them away from my forehead with some clips.
6. Let your bangs live
With so many types of bangs to consider, along with various styling techniques, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Bangs are a commitment. But the one trick that might be the most important has nothing to do with your hair itself, but your mindset. Embrace the occasional chaos. Learn to love your bangs, even when they’re out of place, and you might find they’re actually effortless after all.
Want to try bangs? Here’s what to ask your stylist for:
(Not to be confused with curtain bangs–face-framing layers are chin-length; bangs are eye-to-cheekbone-length)