Everything You Need to Know Before You Get Bangs

It's a hair decision that shouldn't be made lightly.
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Stephanie Saltzman
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It's a hair decision that shouldn't be made lightly.
Model Mica Arganaraz is a perfect example of bangs gone right. Photo: Getty Images/Matteo Valle

Model Mica Arganaraz is a perfect example of bangs gone right. Photo: Getty Images/Matteo Valle

It's not hard to fall into the trap. You see one picture of Jane Birkin (or Selena Gomez, or Hailey Baldwin) and you immediately think: It's time — I'm getting bangs! But considering bangs are probably the most-regretted hairstyle choice one can make (second maybe to OD-ing on Sun-In), it's important to put a little more thought into it. You could go in with visions of Alexa Chung's wispy, versatile, easily-swept-to-the-side Cool Girl™ bangs...

Alexa Chung and her perfect bangs. Photo: Giphy

Alexa Chung and her perfect bangs. Photo: Giphy

...but then wind up with something more closely resembling Nick Kroll.

Nick Kroll, no offense, but not your best look. Photo: Giphy

Nick Kroll, no offense, but not your best look. Photo: Giphy

We're here to help educate you on everything you need to know before you make this major hair-changing decision.

Ron Swanson, listen up. Photo: Giphy

Ron Swanson, listen up. Photo: Giphy

Bangs are a commitment.
They're high-maintenance (we'll get to that in a minute) and can take a while to grow out, says hairstylist Kristin Ess, whose clients include Lucy Hale, Lauren Conrad and Halle Berry. So though cutting bangs isn't exactly as permanent as, say, getting a tattoo, it's a decision you'll have to live with for a while. If your reason for getting bangs is a simple hairstyle rut, step away from the scissors. "[People] get them because they're bored and not really thinking it out, then regret it later when it comes to growing them out," says Ess.

Your face shape is important when considering what type of bangs to get.
"Bangs close off the forehead and change the whole shape of the face," says Matt Fugate, a hairstylist whose clients include Karlie Kloss, Bebe Rexha and Anja Rubik. Ess agrees: "You have to know what function you want the bangs to have. Do you want them to shorten your forehead? Do you want them to lessen the width of your cheeks? Do you want them to draw your face out to look wider? Have a clear idea of what you want them to do before you decide on what kind," she says.

Your hair type is important, too.
"I usually stick to a blunt bang for thinner or finer textures," says Ess. If you have thick or curly hair, you might want to try a more layered, blended look. (Bonus: Blended bangs, like the ones Gomez and Baldwin both recently debuted, are easier to grow out.)

You're going to want to leave the cutting to a pro.
"Always get your bangs cut for the first time by a professional. Please let a pro help you determine what you need and why," says Ess. "Then if you feel like you can do the upkeep, great!" (Follow our guide here!) And while you're at it, make sure that your stylist never, ever cuts your bangs when your hair is wet. "Dry and style your hair the way you want it to look and then cut the bangs when hair is dry so there's no shrinkage," explains Ess. To clarify, this type of shrinkage is nothing like the kind in Seinfeld, but it can totally throw off the final results of your style.

Like any relationship, communication is key. Talk things through with your hairstylist — and use visual aids.
"Bring a whole Pinterest board of what you like and don't like," says Fugate. The more comprehensive you can be, the better. "I wouldn't dream of cutting a client's bangs without looking at photos together," says Ess. "When it comes to bangs, everyone has a descriptive word that means something different; photos are a universal language."

You'll want to stock up on dry shampoo.
"We tend to touch our bangs a lot, which stimulates the scalp and produces more oils," says Ess, who advises her clients with bangs to carry around a travel-size dry shampoo. (Some of our favorites: Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo and Klorane Dry Shampoo With Nettle Oil Control.)

The rest of your hairstyling routine will change, too.
"You'll have to style your bangs daily," cautions Fuguate. To avoid totally frying your hair with daily blow-dryer sessions, he suggests keeping the dryer on low heat and then following that up with a serum to "piece out the ends." Fugate, who is a representative for Kérastase, likes the brand's Elixir Ultime Serum Solide. But it's not all bad news: "I actually found that it lessened my styling routine when I had bangs," says Ess. "I could throw all my hair up in a bun or ponytail and just wash my bangs in the sink instead of washing and blow-drying my whole head."

Oh yeah, and you might want to wait until the fall to cut bangs.
"Avoid getting bangs for the first time during the hottest months of the year," says Ess. "You may tend to sweat on your forehead a bit more during those months, so if you do want to get bangs over the summer, make sure you have plenty of dry shampoo and skin blotting papers with you all the time." Or just remain patient until back-to-school season starts, and if you still really want bangs by then, the timing will be perfect.

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