Bangs: 11 Things You Need To Know Before You Make The Cut

I've had bangs since I was a baby, so I'm totally an expert.
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I've had bangs since I was a baby, so I'm totally an expert.

Spring is my favourite time of the year. The second buds start to pop up on the trees and flowers poke their heads up out of the earth, my heart starts to sing. I want to dance down the street, twirling an umbrella. And yes, I want to wear florals. Groundbreaking.

I also take stock of my life by going through my giant makeup case and wardrobe, giving away anything I’m not going to wear or use. I also always find myself considering major hair changes. Is this the year I get a pixie? Maybe dye it all pink? 

I am not alone in this, it seems. For the last few weeks, I have been INUNDATED with the same question: “Alle, should I get bangs?”

First of all, I will never talk anyone out of getting bangs. I think bangs are amazing and beautiful, and there’s truly a style for every face.

But I am really invested in making sure that you guys know what you’re getting into when you take the plunge. Because even though they’re totally awesome, bangs definitely require some adjustments. They’re not something you should cut into your hair on a springtime whim!

So I have compiled a list of all the things that you need to know before you get bangs. And as someone whose had bangs more or less constantly since she was but a wee babe, I know these things.

Portrait of the editor as a child with bangs. Or maybe a banana in a tracksuit...still with bangs.

Portrait of the editor as a child with bangs. Or maybe a banana in a tracksuit...still with bangs.

1. It will take a while to get your bangs looking right.

If you have, say, center-parted hair, your hair is likely really used to growing that way. So when you cut bangs and suddenly tell these shorter bits of your hair to grow forward, it’s going to take them a minute to adjust. 

Most people who decide that they hate their new bangs make that call while their hair is adjusting to the new pattern--they complain that they “can’t do” bangs, but really all their hair needs is training!

If my bangs looked like this all the time, I'd be over them too.

If my bangs looked like this all the time, I'd be over them too.

Do not freak out if your hair looks like this! It will not be this way forever! I’ve found that the best way to train your hair into beautiful bangs is to blow-dry it every morning (this will give it the correct shape) and sleep with a thick elastic headband on at night.

Like this.

Like this.

This is not a super-sexy look, but it will hold your new bangs in place at night and help mould them into the position that you want. This is my single BEST trick for training rebellious fringe, apart from how to trim them yourself.

2. Bangs are high-maintenance.

Allow me to bust a popular beauty myth: there is no such thing as effortless fringe. Bangs are wonderful, but whatever your hair type and however you wear them, they are WORK. 

You gotta style them. You gotta hold them in position. And most importantly, you gotta keep them at their optimum length. Take this into consideration when you’re deciding To Bang Or Not To Bang--if you are a wash-and-go kind of girl, you may not be happy with the time commitment a fringe requires.

3. You will realise how fast your hair grows...

Human hair grows at a set rate of about half an inch per month, and at no other time is that as apparent than when you have bangs. You’re going to think you drank the magical draft of the Ents, because almost as soon as you get them the right length, they’ll need a trim again. A lot of salons offer complimentary bang trims in between full cuts, which is something you should definitely take advantage of if you’re not comfortable with cutting them yourself.

4. But paradoxically, they take a long time to grow out.

So let’s say you get bangs, and decide they’re not for you, OR that you’d prefer a different shape. Even though when you have them you’ll be amazed at how fast they grow, when you’re trying to grow them out it’ll seem like it takes FOREVER. This is the Great Bang Paradox, and it is studied by scientists and philosophers alike.

You can minimise the craziness that comes from growing out bangs with cute clips, scarves and headbands, and once they are long enough, haircuts with layers will help to integrate them back into your style. And remember to be patient!

5. You WILL screw up your bangs at least once (but it isn’t that big a deal).

Once, when I was in college, I broke the cardinal rule of DIY hair-cutting, and trimmed my bangs when I was exhausted and drunk. I woke up the next day with teeny-tiny baby bangs that ran at a jaunty angle across my forehead. It was not the look.

Fortunately, hair grows. In a couple of weeks I was able to tidy up my line; in a month they were back to normal. 

Everyone I know who has bangs has a story like this, and it always ends the same way--I messed up, but in a short amount of time, it was totally fine. Don’t freak out if you make a mistake!

6. The bangs you want may not be the bangs you get.

There are a lot of ways to wear a fringe, and what works best on you will depend on your hair type, thickness, how much time you want to spend styling it and your personal style. It is a tragedy of our times that occasionally, we may want bangs that won’t work with one or all of those things. 

Thin, fine hair may not accommodate a thick, full fringe. Curly hair and short, feathery bangs may never meet. Bettie bangs and a woman who has two minutes to do her hair in the morning could be a very poor match.

This is the face of a girl who doesn't have the time to wrestle with side-swept bangs every day, even though she loves them.

This is the face of a girl who doesn't have the time to wrestle with side-swept bangs every day, even though she loves them.

Like all hairstyles, bangs need to work with your hair and lifestyle, rather than with the fantasy of how things should be. If you’ve never had bangs before, or if it’s been a while, I suggest working with a really good stylist that you trust who will help you determine what bangs are right for YOU and YOUR LIFE.

The downside of this is that sometimes, the fringe-style you have your heart set on just won’t work out. That is sad, but it isn’t your only option! There are a rainbow of bang choices, and I promise that you’ll like a style that works WITH you way better than one you have to struggle with.

7. You may need to alter your makeup style.

No matter what style of fringe you’re rocking, bangs definitely change your face. They provide a frame, which can be lovely and dramatic when paired with the right makeup.

If I overdo the eye makeup with my dark, straight bangs, I can look like a Bettie Page knockoff. That’s not quite my style, and even the most committed retro girls know that you never want to copy someone else’s look. Sticking to clean, simple makeup works the best with my fringe. Makeup should complement--not compete--with your hair.

If you wear glasses, this goes double for you. Finding glasses that work with your new fringe is totally crucial--a slight cat-eye shape looks amazing with straight bangs, rather than making me look dated, and the dark brown doesn’t get too close to my current hair colour.

Plus, they're adorable. Very important.

Plus, they're adorable. Very important.

8. You will fall in love with dry shampoo.

Bangs + sweat = stringy, sad times. Post-workout fringe struggles are REAL, and they’re especially noticeable because the hair is right there in your face! Invest in a really awesome dry shampoo to keep your hair looking totally incredible.

9. You will find yourself doing really weird things.

Hands up: who has ever found themselves hunched over the sink, washing JUST their bangs with a teeny bit of shampoo because it was easier than doing your entire head?

allebangs7.jpg

I do this a lot--hell, I did it today--and it seems perfectly normal to me. But tell that to someone without bangs, and they’ll give you weird looks while they laugh at you.

Until, of course, they get bangs themselves. Suddenly, they see how essential processes like this truly are, and you’ll be trading sink-washing tips in no time.

10. You CAN wear no-bang looks (if you work hard enough).

One thing I hear a lot from people on the bang-fence is that they feel like having a fringe will limit their hairstyling options.

This is about half-true. Having bangs does mean that you’ll nix a few styles because they are not immediately fringe-friendly. But you CAN work around them if you really, truly want to, and I’m living proof.

Look Ma, no fringe!

Look Ma, no fringe!

If you’re looking to hide your bangs, light teasing is your best friend. Tease from the roots, up and in to the length of your hair, so that the short bits become one with the longer parts. If you’re looking for a very slicked-back look (like my dragon style), you can achieve this with damp hair, a fine-tooth comb and a lot of hairspray.

11. They’re the best thing in the world.

I cut bangs into my hair when I was 18 because I felt self-conscious about my high forehead and widow’s peak. I don’t feel that way anymore. I like my face with and without bangs, but with them I feel the most like myself. They are my favourite way to wear my hair, and my favourite way to be the glamourous Vulcan that I truly am inside.

Majestic!

Majestic!

No matter how many time I change my hair colour, my bangs remain the same. They are as much a part of my look as having green eyes. They are my North Star, my Constant. They’ve helped me help other people who aren’t sure if they can pull them off (and we all know how I feel about that). And they’ve helped me develop a set of hair skills that I would never have had without them.

In short, if you're prepared for them, bangs totally rule. If you’ve always wanted them, you should definitely get them. Who knows? Maybe they’ll change your life the way they’ve changed mine!