Splitting Hairs is our monthlong exploration of hair based on a survey of women across America. It’s like you brought a photo to the salon — we’re giving you exactly what you want.

By Victoria Moorhouse
Updated Aug 30, 2018 @ 12:00 pm
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Dermatitis Bangs
Credit: Getty Images

Getting bangs was one of the best things I’ve ever done for my confidence. They gave me a better appreciation for my facial features (I really dig my cheekbones) and give off some serious ‘70s vibes that I am very, very into. Sadly, I can’t say the same for my forehead: Getting a set of eyebrow-grazing, wispy bangs turned out to be one of the worst things I’ve ever done for my skin.

A year after I got the bangs I love so dearly, I started noticing small, red bumps all over my forehead. I diagnosed myself with adult onset acne, and added zit-fighting cleansers, moisturizers, and plenty of spot treatments into my daily skincare routine in an effort to clear up what I thought were pimples. Keyword: Thought.

Unfortunately, the products I was using were making the situation worse. The patches of bumps got even more inflamed and multiplied. That’s when I started to suspect they weren’t zits at all.

I figured it could be a rash or an allergic reaction of sorts, so I toyed with different solutions: calming serums, hypoallergenic, fragrance-free moisturizers, and even a topical steroid. After months of flare-ups and frustration, I booked myself an appointment with my dermatologist, Dr. Melissa Levin, who filled me in on my real issue — contact dermatitis, a form of eczema that occurs when something from the environment is irritating your skin.

Diagnosing the cause of contact dermatitis is tough, but Dr. Levin made a strong argument. Based on when my flare-ups happened — mostly after trims — she said it sounded like my precious, beloved bangs were most likely to blame. I was bummed, but more so, I was confused. I wore bangs off-and-on throughout my childhood, through college, and then for a year before the bumps starting popping up. Why were they causing a problem now?

After some discussion, Dr. Levin and I came to a realization: Though I'd not had problems with contact dermatitis before, I did have atopic dermatitis as a child.

“People with atopic dermatitis — what people think of when they think of eczema; you’re born with it or you get it during childhood — are more at risk for having contact dermatitis. Your skin is more sensitive,” Dr. Levin told me.

Apparently, I’m just as sensitive on the outside as I am on the inside.

After we figured out what the problem might be, the time came to figure out what to do about it.

“How committed are you to this hairstyle?” Dr Levin asked, gently guiding me towards the most reasonable solution, the one that would involve me getting rid of my bangs.

I wasn’t having it.

“I’m very, very committed,” I told her. I don’t hate what I look like without this haircut, but I’m significantly happier with my appearance (and believe it or not, life in general) with bangs, and for me growing them out just wasn’t an option.

Unfortunately, plan B was way more complicated.

VIDEO: Beauty School: How to Get Voluminous Hair With Extensions

The treatment for my contact dermatitis consisted of a series of topical Rxs that totaled to nearly $100, as well as a replacement of nearly every product in my routine. My anti-aging moisturizers were replaced with a less irritating, soothing Avene daily face cream, and I was advised to stick to micellar water for cleansing. My former skincare routine, which consisted of maybe three products, doubled and jumped to six. As a beauty editor, I’m often asked to personally test various facial masks, moisturizers, and serums, and I had to start being hyper aware of what ingredients were in each bottle before slathering it on my face.

It’s been over eight months since I finally got to the bottom of my issue, and the bumps on my forehead have pretty much disappeared — as long as I follow my routine to a tee.

It’s tedious and time-consuming, no doubt, but this routine is 100 percent worth it if it means I can have clear skin and still keep my bangs. I know if I gave them up, I’d feel like I was giving up some of my confidence. That’s one sacrifice I’d never be willing to make.