Get Mariska Hargitay's 'Law & Order: SVU' Side Bangs

Side-fringe that incites fear and respect, in four easy steps.
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Side-fringe that incites fear and respect, in four easy steps.

Growing out your bangs is the worst. Bangs, or a lack thereof, really change your face; they're like the eyebrows to your eyebrows. Get them right, and they frame your face without falling in your eyes--and everyone fears and respects you. 

Case in point: Olivia Benson, fictional detective on Law & Order: SVU

law and order svu olivia benson

Photo: © 2009 -Universal Media Studios via

Though it’s not just her hair that people respect her for: Benson is tougher, more empathetic, and more intelligent than all of the other women in TV crime dramas combined. Don’t believe me? Ask your nana. She knows.

law and order svu olivia benson quote

Played by actress and real-life hero Mariska Hargitay, Benson has stolen the hearts and minds of SVU fans: she isn’t some stone-cold hottie asking stupid questions and whipping her hair back and forth across an active crime scene. Detective Benson is caring, dedicated, intelligent, strong, mean, and always has a back-up plan. If Olivia Benson were on Walking Dead, they’d have that whole mess cleaned up by now.

And while she has had many hairstyles, she's rarely without universally flattering side-fringe. Effortless and easy to pull off at varying lengths and cuts, side-fringe (when styled correctly) are a great solution for growing out your bangs. You can get Benson's look with diagonal cut bangs or straighter, wispy bangs. 

Start off by wetting your bangs and combing them straight down in front of your face, like a giant fifth grader on picture day.

Using a paddle brush, pick up your bangs at the root, lift and bend whilst hitting it with your hairdryer on low heat. This will give your bangs volume, but stop before they are completely dry.

hair brushing gif

Olivia Benson bangs: step one. You know the drill...

Hold your brush vertically in front of your face, pick up your still-damp bangs, and pull them tightly towards your face while blow-drying on low heat. This is key to getting side-fringe that sweeps over your forehead rather than parting to the side. 

curled long bang

Olivia Benson bangs: step two. This is not a finished look!

Don’t stop here, or they’ll fall flat faster than an arrest on suspicion. 

With a fine comb, carefully tease the roots of your bangs, leaving just the top layer smooth. My hair is ultra-fine, so I usually spritz it with some flexible hold hairspray. I’m currently using Fructis’ Flexible Control.

teasing hair

Olivia Benson bangs: step three.

teased bangs

Olivia Benson bangs: standing at attention. 

Now arrange your bangs how you want them to lay: delicately place the still-smooth hair over the teased part and pin it into place with a few slick (literally) Scunci Comfort Curve Bobby Pins. The lack of ridges make these pins very light-hold, so they won’t leave a dent.

Add another mist of hairspray and hit it with the dryer again. Smooth the hair down with your fingertips and, once cool, remove the bobby pin.  

pinned side bangs

Olivia Benson bangs: step four. Almost done!

Bangs styled like this will hold their shape FOREVER, and they won’t flop around all willy-nilly. Because Olivia is not having any of that.  

hair pulled up

Nana-approved Olivia Benson bangs. 

blonde ombre hair

I am not worthy.

  • Are you an SVU fan? What’s your favorite Olivia Benson hairstyle? I need to work up the nerve to cop her Season 9 look. 
  • Do you have any other sweet tricks for styling bangs? 

Anything you say can and will be used for good, I promise.