Don't fear the fringe! A well-groomed set of bangs can be a hairstyle in themselves, but don't go to town with the scissors just because your BFF's new look has you inspired. The layers should be tailored to flatter your face shape, and often times, a too-short, DIY version is enough to put you off the style for good. "I think the thing people hate the most is getting your bangs cut too short. Bangs tend to be a security blanket, so before I even cut a set, I discuss it with my client and give them couture bangs," says hairstylist John Barrett of New York City's John Barrett Salon. "I think it's very important to tell your hairdresser how comfortable you are having your bangs at a certain length, or if you're feeling adventurous, express that, too. It also helps to take a magazine or picture to the salon, because there are so many variations." To debunk any myths about bangs---like the one saying people with smaller foreheads can't rock the look---we asked Barrett to give us the complete breakdown on the fringe you should get to flatter your face shape. Read on to find your perfect match, then head over to our Hollywood Makeover Tool to see how you'd look in the style before visiting the salon!
While your immediate reaction would be to downplay your chin, Barrett advises going for a more graphic bang to complement your shape. "A lot of people have an exaggerated view of what their faces look like, and the thing I like to do is almost push it forward and get a much harder bang so it looks really intentional," he says. "If you're gonna do it, go for it, and make it strong." For those who would rather balance the effect instead of emphasizing it, a soft, choppy look like Naomi Campbell's impeccable fringe is your best bet. "That sort of bang is so soft and sexy, and you can leave a little more on the face, or push some away," Barrett adds.
Oval face shapes like Eva Longoria's can get away with a variety of looks, but it's the airy, below-the-brow style that proves to be the most sensual. "What's crucial is the choppiness toward the end of the bang---it should be fine enough that, although it's going over your eyebrow, you should still be able to see it," Barrett says. This style calls attention to your cheekbones, and if your shape is on the longer side, the wisps can actually help widen the face.
The right set of bangs---namely a choppy, above-the-brow version---will give round faces like Felicity Jones' added structure. "If you have a small or slightly rounder face, a short bang will bring attention on the eyes," says Barrett. "It's one of my favorite looks because it's really youthful, and gives length to the face."
Similar to those with round faces, square shapes are also flattered by a shorter fringe, so channel your inner pin-up girl and opt for a style similar to Tatyana Ali's. "The shorter bang would absolutely work for a square face. If you want a more severe look, instead of angling your bangs from the middle and getting longer, you can do the opposite and have them shorter on the sides going inwards," he says. "It's slightly harder, and I think that it looks more fashion-forward, so you have to have confidence to wear it." In other words, start repeating the "What would Bettie Page do?" mantra.
Contrary to popular belief, those who have foreheads on the smaller side, like Taraji P. Henson, can still rock bangs. "Keep them short," Barrett advises. "I love short bangs that frame the face, because the shorter the bangs, the longer your forehead will be." A side-swept look similar to Henson's, which Barrett has dubbed the "gamine bang," is another option if you prefer a style that isn't so blunt. "It's almost like pieces of hair getting slightly chunky and going to the side," he explains. "There's choppiness going on, and it's good for basically any shaped face."
Those with high foreheads like Rihanna's can get away with longer bangs, just be sure to follow the golden rule of getting fringe that starts in the middle, and gets longer toward the ends and sides. "It's the most versatile, and it's the softest, sexiest look," says Barrett, who recommends this look for beginners. "That's a great starting place, and once you have that, you can become more adventurous---add or remove a little more length, or make it choppy."