Must-Know Tips for Styling Bangs You'll Wish You Knew Sooner

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Woman with bangs wearing a fabric hairband and large hoop earrings.
Photo: Unsplash

Repeat after us: Put the scissors down. Under no circumstance—ever—should you give yourself a haircut to shake up your look. Learning how to cut bangs for fun can do more harm than good. In fact, when you're looking for tips on how to style your bangs, it's best to go straight to the source: hairstylists and experts.

As Miguel Pires, co-owner of IMBUE The Salon, puts it, most of us have a love-hate relationship with our bangs. "Not everyone has the same hair texture, and oftentimes many people encounter cowlicks around their hairline that make styling their bangs tricky," he says. "And not all bangs are cut equal! Sometimes your stylist may have not taken into consideration your hair texture or lifestyle that makes styling your bangs a chore."

So how can you overcome the pain points for each bangs hairstyle? From long to side-swept, pros share their best tips for how to style bangs without undue frustration.

How to style long bangs

The trickiest part: Celebrity hairstylist Trace Henningsen doesn't recommend getting long bangs if you want a hands-off look. Long bangs can be difficult to style because they take a lot of time and upkeep, she says, so patience is a must.

Styling tips: Henningsen says to start with super-wet bangs (damp isn't enough!). "Use a blow-dryer and a boar bristle round brush to blow them out," she says. "Don't use hot tools because they can make bangs look flat and dead on your face, which is not flattering." Speed isn't your friend here, either. Go slowly, be patient, and you'll be able to create natural, fresh body and bounce.

How to style side bangs

The trickiest part: Less is more when it comes to side bangs, since the goal is to appear casual and relaxed. Celebrity hairstylist Julius Michael says it's important to avoid over-styling, since it can leave your side bangs looking flat. And if you have a cowlick, Michael says to steer clear of this look, since it can add awkward volume in the wrong place.

Styling tips: If you've decided to give side bangs a shot, Michael says to have fun! You can use a paddle brush to keep them wispy and off to the side for an everyday look. Or, for something a tad more sophisticated for a night out, he suggests a high ponytail with your side bangs out to play. He recommends pulling your hair back into a pony, and then styling the bangs heavily to one side and keeping them in place with a strong-hold hairspray.

How to style curtain bangs

The trickiest part: If you're someone who tends to sleep in and run out the door at the last minute to make it to work, curtain bangs aren't the right match for your schedule. As hairstylist Jana Rago says, the hardest part about curtain bangs is that they take effort since they require daily upkeep. Those with crunched calendars may feel stressed, skip the styling, and end up looking frazzled.

Styling tips: Before you fool with the rest of your locks, Rago says to start with your bangs. "Most people find this order surprising because they tend to style the bulk of their hair first, and then the hair around the face as the last step. But, when you do that, you're putting more unnecessary heat over your bangs with your dryer," she says.

This is not a smart strategy, since the hair around our cheeks and eyes is the weakest. To pull off the curtain bangs, Rago suggests over-directing each side piece onto both sides of the face to get an even fall when you wear them down. This adds necessary volume to the root. Who looks best with curtain bangs? Rago says folks with oval-shaped faces or people with larger foreheads should give curtain bangs a try.

How to style bangs with curly hair

The trickiest part: For members of the curly-hair crowd, deciding to have bangs is a big investment: Curly bangs require even more TLC than those with straight hair. Alyssia Dotson, educator and creative team lead for Alterna Haircare, says the key is to make sure you have curl definition in the front and that you avoid cutting bangs too short. Long bangs work better for this texture.

Styling tips: Dotson says to embrace the natural curl of your locks from the bangs to every last strand of hair. The key to pulling off bangs with this hair type is to use a great product that adds definition to curls but isn't overly oily or heavy, Dotson says. By choosing a lightweight product, your bangs will remain airy and light, rather than sticky or flat. After gentle blow-drying on low heat, apply a bit of product and use a small brush to give bangs body.

How to style bangs while growing them out

The trickiest part: Styling bangs while growing them out isn't hard, but it does take forever to grow them out, says master stylist Vickie Vidov. Depending on your goal length, it could take three to six months to arrive at your hair destination. Vidov encourages her clients to try and enjoy the different stages and to focus on finding ways to keep bangs tame. After all, at some point, you'll be in the "in-between" phase where they are not short enough to go one way or long enough to go the other.

Styling tips: It's easy: Don't cut them, unless there are split ends. If that's the case, Vidov suggests booking a little trim but letting your stylist know about your bang plans.

"As they grow, adjust the style from a short bang to a curtain bang to a side bang, and so on," she says. "You can also use accessories to hide the bang, such as headbands or clips. Take advantage of this year's trends with various hair accessories. Use bedazzled hair pins and clips. It's not forever, because we all know eventually we'll cut them again!"

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