Ranking the 11 Swept Bangs That Changed the World, from Troy Bolton To 'The Rachel'

The person who invented the swept bang isn't just a cosmetic genius, they're a rebel. When society told them to comb down, they thought — "I'm gonna go against convention and change the course of history." In a moment of brilliance, this hairstylist took a horizontal bang, brushed against gravity, and created the swept bang. Then, pop culture went ham on it.

Who can forget the devil-may-care locks of Troy Bolton? How about the more low-key bangs of Liz Lemon, or the Rihanna bangs? Because everyone loves a time capsule, I'm ranking eleven of the most influential swept bangs in pop culture history. Get ready, guys. There's about to be a whole lot of head-tossing up in here.

Joan Rivers

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All hail and RIP, the grande dame of the feathered swept bang. The world will never be the same.

Tina Fey

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The Liz Lemon bangs reflected the styling accent that a normal gal just like you would have in the mid aughts. That is, a normal gal with the scalp of a Tresseme model.


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If you’ll remember, RiRi got a swept bang around the time that she cut her hair into an asymmetrical bob for the release of “Umbrella.” Essentially, “good girl gone bad” = side-bangs.

Ellen Degeneres

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When Ellen cut her hair back in the day, this pixie cut became the pixie of the age. Her bangs are, and remain, a cultural touchstone.

Zac Efron

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It’s impossible to reminisce about the Swept Bang without mentioning Zac Efron circa High School Musical. Remember how approximately 60 percent of the males in your high school had these bangs? That’s why Troy Bolton and his hair are cultural artifacts.

Kate Gosselin

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These bangs brought “business in the front” to Kate Gosselin’s suburban mom version of mullet. Now, I’m not saying that this hairdo was ever in good taste, but given that this side-sweep is kind of a cultural touchstone, it deserves a place of honor in the list.

Prince Eric

When you think of the “Disney Prince Haircut,” it’s impossible not to picture Prince Eric’s voluminous side-bang. This coif set the conventional male beauty standard for the whole of the early ’90s, and its owner wasn’t even a real person.

Image: Buena Vista Pictures

Lindsay Lohan in 'The Parent Trap'

Hallie Parker’s layered bangs likely sent you begging to your mom to cut your hair just like hers. If you were successful, you likely wore sunglasses as a headband, like so.

Image: Buena Vista Pictures

Jessica Rabbit

When people mention the Jessica Rabbit look, they’re half talking about her vampy fashion, and half talking about her hair sultrily falling into her face. Despite the fact that this was cartoon hair, it was extremely important hair.

Image: Touchstone Pictures

Justin Bieber

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Justin Bieber became the poster child for the swept-bang bowl cut in the midst of its mid-aughts craze. No matter now speckled his legal record may become, this is how we were introduced to him, and this is how we will forever think of him: constantly tossing his fringe out of his eyes with youthful nonchalance.

The Rachel

Ah, “The Rachel”… The undisputed zeitgeist hairstyle at the turn of the 21st Century. The awkward layering, the un-toned highlights and the general bounciness of this ‘do all play back-up to its main feature: the wet-look swept bang.

Image: NBC