If you've never had bangs before, I feel compelled to tell you they're extremely high-maintenance. For all you fringe neophytes out there, allow me to brief you on their very brief life span. Let's say your appointment is on Friday; they somehow look their best on Monday. By Thursday or so, you have an eyebrow-grazing bang that feels slightly long but shaggy-cool. By Saturday, you're lucky if you can even see through your now-overgrown cut.
Since a busy lifestyle doesn't always lend itself to bi-weekly appointments: a lesson on how to cut your own bangs at home without messing them up. Because the funny thing about a fringe is good ones are gone in the blink of an eye, but bad ones will last you long enough to run out of ways to wear cute barrettes. To that end, we tapped six hairstylists for their best tips for making your hairstyle refresh totally foolproof.
1. Research The Bang Style You Want
The most important part of creating your dream bangs comes before you even start the cutting. Scroll through your Instagram feed, tear pages out of magazines, create a Pinterest board — anything to help you decide on the look you want to achieve. But first, consider your face shape, says Matrix celebrity colorist George Papanikolas.
In general, Papanikolas says that "round faces look best with a side bang because they elongate the face." On the other hand, square-shaped faces look best when "bangs are longer on the sides because they soften the look of the jawline." If you have a heart-shaped face, that means your forehead or cheekbones are the widest part of your face, and you taper down to a narrower jaw. In this case, Papanikolas suggests you go with "baby micro bangs or soft, wispy bangs because they complement the wider forehead and give more balance to the jaw." And finally, for the most versatile face shape of all — oval — he loves a blunt bang shape.
2. Section Out The Right Amount Of Hair
As you start sectioning off pieces, keep your goal bangs in mind. To get the perfect shape, Kerastase celebrity hairstylist Gregory Russell says, "start by creating a V-shape section with the wide part at the hairline." He also suggests using your pupils as your guide to picking the right width. To do this, draw an imaginary line from the center of each eye straight up to the hairline. From those two points, merge to a point in the center, generally about two to four inches in depth (depending on how chunky you want your fringe) to create your V.
Once you get your section ready to trim, break out the hair clips, which help separate your desired bang section from the rest of your hair on the left and right side (so you don't accidentally cut pieces that don't belong).
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3. Cut Your Bangs Dry, Not Wet
The last time you got a cut, your stylist probably broke out the scissors after washing your hair, so it's no surprise you might attempt to do the same at home. Before you do that, hairstylist Justin Presnell of Tabb & Sparks Salon says it's actually best to cut them dry. If your hair is freshly washed, blow-dry it until it's completely dry from root to tips — this will make a huge difference in the end.
"For someone cutting their bangs at home, my suggestion is always to cut the hair while dry," he explains. "When hair is wet, it stretches and can result in a shorter look once moisture is released." Cutting it dry gives you a real-time look at what the final result will be, leaving less room for mistakes.
4. When Cutting Your Bangs, Consider The Texture
When you're getting the moisture out of your clean bangs, be sure to do so with a rough dry using your hands rather than a round-brush blowout. You won't want to do anything to disrupt your natural texture. "When cutting your bangs, you always need to keep in mind the texture of your natural hair," Presnell says. "Even if you are the type of person that gets consistent weekly blowouts with curly hair, never cut it while it's blown out — the result could be a disaster when you allow your hair to form its natural curl." He also recommends using "little to no tension when cutting them," as this could also disrupt the integrity of your texture, thus giving you a shorter-than-desired cut. Don't pull your hair toward the scissors — let the scissors come to you.
5. Make Sure You Have The Right Hair Tools To Cut Your Bangs
Before you go grabbing a pair of scissors from your office drawer, Ashley Streicher, celebrity hairstylist and Garnier consultant urges you to reconsider. Dull scissors can lead to jagged edges and uneven cuts. "I always recommend my clients trim their bangs with very small and very sharp scissors, like eyebrow or even cuticle scissors," she says, "because they're so tiny, you can only take a little bit a time, which keeps you from lopping off big chunks of hair on accident." Don't even consider using the shaving razor in your shower unless you're on a mission to damage your hair: "Razors fray the ends of your hair and make it very frizzy," Streicher says.
6. Practice Holding Your Scissors Like A Pro
Now, you're ready to start cutting. You might've seen videos on YouTube of girls holding their scissors straight across their forehead, snipping away from one side to the other until they realize they're left with a total hack job. It's all fun and games until you do it to yourself!
"For the easiest, lowest-risk option, slip a comb under your bangs, gently elevate the hair about an inch or so away from your forehead, and do what we call point cutting," says hairstylist and Oribe educator Adam Livermore on how to create a softer-looking fringe. Point cutting consists of holding your scissors vertically and cutting up into the ends of the hair with shallow and slightly angled cuts. "Use the tip of your scissors to just trim the ends in little diagonal snips," Livermore explains. "Try to cut the same amount with each snip for a straight, but not too straight effect."
7. When Cutting Your Bangs, Remember To Cut Conservatively
"I would always recommend starting on the longer side," says hairstylist and Kenra educator Brittany Gillespie. "You can always trim small amounts at a time and build from there, but you cannot put them back once they're gone." A few centimeters too short can totally change the look of your fringe, so start slow and gradually trim as you go. Gillespie says, "I typically make my first cut just where the bottom of my nose starts and work my way up from there."
If you're still indecisive about the final look of your fringe, here's a good time to assess your situation too. "If you start long, you can side sweep or even create a curtain bang (this is the Brigitte-Bardot bang that splits in the middle," says Gillepsie. "As you trim shorter, you'll make your way to a straight-across bang." This way, you can try on a few styles before deciding on your final look.
If there's anything you can learn from the experts, it's that anyone can create a fringe they love, as long as you start long and move carefully. Just be sure to bookmark this page, because you'll undoubtedly need a refresher course when your bangs need a trim in two to three weeks.