Bangs. You either loathe them with every inch of your being, or you’re so in love with them that you can never see yourself with another hairstyle ever again. Me? I fall squarely with the latter. I took the ultimate plunge three and a half years ago. I desperately wanted to refresh my style, but I also didn’t want to lose any length. After 30 minutes of consulting literally anyone who would listen about whether I should get the polarizing haircut (and then chickening out a few times), I decided I was all in. I left with a set of eyebrow-grazing bangs loosely inspired by my style icon, Jane Birkin, and I haven’t had a bare forehead since.
Sure, I’ll wax poetic about the life-changing magic of fringe all day long, but I won’t deny the obvious: Having bangs requires serious commitment and daily maintenance. Luckily, with some practice and the right tricks in your beauty arsenal, managing them is totally doable. To prove my point, I shared some of my own and consulted with celebrity hair pro Mark Townsend, the man responsible for Dakota Johnson’s enviable fringe. Read on for the sound advice.
Manage your expectations
Not to be a broken record, but you need to know what you’re getting yourself into. “Don’t think that bangs is a wake-up-and-go style,” agrees Townsend. “You do have to style bangs. The joy of it? Bangs themselves, can be an entire hairstyle.”
My bangs even make my sweaty gym topknot look French-girl chic. And not for nothing, I’ve found myself making bolder clothing choices thanks to the retro vibe that they bring to my look. Overall, expect five to 15 minutes of styling every morning and a few touch-ups throughout the day depending on how greasy your hair gets and how humid (or not!) it is outside.
Swap your moisturizer
The fact that your bangs are smack dab up against your forehead all day, every day brings me to an important point: It’s easy for bangs to look greasy, even if you’ve just shampooed. Townsend says the oils in your facial moisturizer might be to blame. “Some of my clients use different moisturizers on their foreheads than they do everywhere else,” he continues.
My personal tip? Opt for a mattifying moisturizer such as La Roche Posay Effaclar Mat Mattifying Moisturizer ($32) that dries without shine and helps balance your skin’s sebum production.
Schedule regular trims
Fun fact: Townsend notes that, on average, hair grows a quarter of an inch a month. To maintain the style of your fringe, whether they’re curtain, wispy, blunt, or side-swept, schedule an appointment with your stylist every three to five weeks. Most salons offer free bang trims in-between appointments.
While Townsend does not recommend cutting your bangs by yourself (he’s seen horror stories!), if you absolutely need to trim them up, he says to reach for thinning shears instead of kitchen scissors. “With thinning shears, you have more leeway,” he tells me. “Also, too many people pull them straight down when they are wet and they spring back up.” If you’re going to trim them at home, either do so when dry or make sure that you acknowledge that they’ll dry and shorten back up.
There is an art to properly blow-drying your bangs. “I almost always blow dry bangs from very wet with no product,” says Townsend. “You can control the hairline much better that way.” So when it doubt, don’t towel ‘em off!
He also recommends using a blow-dryer with a nozzle to control air-flow. “If you don’t have the nozzle, the air blows in a circle, it’ll blow the hair in all different directions. and it won’t lay down flat.” Because my hair is fine and dries straight, I mostly air-dry my bangs. The trick is to brush them down immediately post-shower so they don’t dry in an odd shape.
Dry shampoo is your BFF
Townsend suggests always having a bottle of dry shampoo on you if you have bangs. It’s his cardinal rule. “Women touch their bangs so frequently. It just happens. There’s hair literally on your forehead. All those oils are what makes the bangs look separated. The powders and the starches in dry shampoo absorb those oils and actually keep the hair separated, which means fuller,” he says.
If you’re applying a dry shampoo that comes in an aerosol can, Townsend says to hold the can a good 10 inches away from the roots. You can also repurpose an old flat brush and transform it into a dry shampoo brush (FWIW: it’s an item that’s always in Townsend’s kit). Douse your brush in dry shampoo and the run that through your strands. This helps eliminate any white powdery residue that comes from spraying too close to the root.
My hack? If I don’t have any dry shampoo and don’t want to wash my entire head of hair, I will pull my hair into a topknot and wash just my bangs.
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