What You Really Need to Know Before Getting Bangs
There is a folder (within a folder, within another folder) on my computer that has photos from the summer of 2008, a time I fondly remember as the summer of my best hair. In the images, taken with a Nikon Coolpix camera, my hair is red, long and accented with the perfect side-swept bangs—the unofficial badge of Brooklyn girls then (and actually, now too).
Looking back, I didn’t know how good I had it. By that fall, I’d grown the style out and changed the color back to blonde. I’d been thinking about the look for a long time—probably because I associate it with what was a really, really good summer—so I decided to make the cut again this past February. For my new, version 2.0, I kept the color blonde and the fringe fuller and blunter, my best attempt at channeling rock goddess Stevie Nicks.
This time around, everything is different: I’m seven years older, and these bangs are literally in my face every day, not casually brushed off to the side like my previous design. I really like them—they’re now the most important part of my style uniform, surpassing silk Equipment button-downs—but they’re work. So if you’re thinking about getting them, here’s a peek at your future:
1. You’ll be shocked by how fast they grow.
I’ve taken all sorts of over-the-counter pills in the past to make my hair grow faster, thicker and better—all to no avail. But suddenly, it’s like I’m on a biotin IV drip. These things grow like weeds!
2. You can successfully trim them yourself.
I have a lot of friends who trim their bangs over the bathroom sink—they say to twist them in small, 1-inch sections, clipping just the ends with a pair of regular, old scissors. This works! But sometimes I end up with an uneven finish. My stylist Tommy Buckett also told me to use cuticle scissors, which have proven to be great when I need just a tiny, miniscule snip.
3. You will fare better with a professional job.
For all of the times I’ve managed to trim my own bangs and have them look okay, my stylist always does better work (not surprising!). And—best news ever—at most salons, bang trims are free! Just don’t forget to tip.
4. You must train them to lay flat.
Bangs are like newborn puppies—they require TLC if you want them to do something right. First, you have to blow them dry before the rest of your hair, or else they’ll dry in a funky shape. Focus on getting the roots first (it seems as though they control the shape the strand will take). After that, you can blow them back and forth, left to right, using a boar bristle brush. Avoid a round brush—it’s just a little too 1992 Olympics gymnastics team. There’s one exception: If they’re swerving in a weird direction (and mine do), stylist Mark Townsend told me hold a round brush vertically, blowing them dry in whatever direction I want. He also said that if I have some crazy cowlick (which I do), to use a disposable mascara wand—this will let you get close to and hold the root better than any other brush, so you can really manipulate the direction the hair goes in. Whatever you do—do not flat iron them in an act of desperation. I did this. It was horrible.
5. You will wash them way more than you wash the rest of your hair.
I shampoo my hair every other day, but if I want presentable fringe, I have to do them daily. They get greasy easily (after all, they’re resting on my forehead), and they typically develop bends and frizz overnight. I’ve woken up looking like the lead singer of Flock of Seagulls on many occasions, and honestly sometimes I’m so lazy I just go with it.
6. You will save a lot of foundation.
I don’t bother putting BB cream or foundation on my forehead now—there’s basically a curtain over it that no one can see behind, so I don’t see the point (p.s. this will really come in handy once fine lines and wrinkles crop up). I do, however, spread my SPF up there. Sadly, my shield of strands can’t deflect UV rays.
7. You need an arsenal of accessories.
Sometimes, while I’m furiously typing away at my desk, the bangs get kind of annoying, so I pin them back with bobby pins. Same thing goes for when I get home at night and need to start my extensive skincare routine. I mostly stick with pins because they’re small and easy to toss into whatever bag I’m carrying, but if you really want to turn it into a look, headbands work just as well. A turban from Jennifer Behr ($162; jenniferbehr.com) will transform you into a '40s film star, and a super-soft Scunci version ($7; walgreens.com) will give you that all-American, athleisure effect.