From Beyoncé (albeit short-lived) and Sophia Amoruso, to the trendy hipster girl in the apartment next door, short Bettie Page-esque bangs are all the rage. But as with all trends, there’s a right way and a wrong way to execute the look. Just look what happened to poor Beyoncé. When she debuted her fresh coif (here) , her new cut was greeted with a chorus of “WTF??” and “What happened?” Yep. That infamous first go-round was not her best hair day, but she more than made up for it in a series of glam shots on Instagram, reassuring us that her micro fringe was actually pretty cute.
It was a very humanizing moment for the pop singer. If a larger-than-life woman like Bey could make a beauty misstep with this trend, do the rest of us have any hope? Don’t despair: All those bangs really needed were a bit of styling and maintenance.
But Bettie Page bangs aren’t for the faint of heart or the lazy girl, and if you want them to look good, be prepared to do your share of heavy lifting. We asked celebrity hairstylist Ursula Stephen, who has worked on the coifs of Rihanna, Rita Ora, Kerry Washington and Iggy Azalea for her sage advice on how to rock super short bangs without risking a bad hair day. What we learned? These bangs ain’t nothin’ to trifle with.
What are some things women should keep in mind before chopping their bangs this short?
It is a super big commitment and if you are not ready to commit, don’t do it. Super short bangs are something you have to work on every morning. It’s not a style that flows – you have to wake up and iron them down. It’s not a wash and go type of style.
Do you have any styling tips for bangs so short?
You have to realize again, that this is a style that requires work. You’ll want to tie the bangs down at night. When your hair is that short and you have even a little bit of texture, it’s harder. For the girls with naturally stick-straight hair, it’s a little easier, but if you have some texture, it’s more work. They need to be straight and sleek at all times. So the way you sleep at night, the way you set it, the way you style it are all very important in order to keep the look looking like it’s supposed to.
Are there any tools or products you suggest for maintaining the style?
Yes. Make sure you have a mini flat iron. That thing will be your best friend. When you cut bangs that short, the layers underneath are super short, so you really need to try to get at those. If those are not straight, then the top parts are not going to fall properly. You actually want to have a good pomade and a good hairspray so your bangs stay in place. I would suggest Motions Light Hold Working Spritz. It’s light, it holds everything in place, and you can also comb it out without it being a problem. It’s one of those hairsprays that dries quickly, and that’s what you want.
Also, pay attention to your root direction. When you wash your hair and blow out the bangs, you want to make sure you’re doing it straight, forward and down. A lot of girls, when they have straight hair, they like to [doobie] wrap it at night to sleep. This is not a hairstyle that should be wrapped. When you wrap with short bangs, they end up being twisted. You do not want to wrap those bangs! What you should do is comb them straight down and put a headband on top of it.
Silky headbands, right?
Absolutely. They keep in moisture better and don’t dry the hair out.
What’s the biggest mistake women make before they try out this style?
I feel like when girls want this haircut, they don’t anticipate how short the bangs actually are. You see it, you love it, you want it, but when you actually get it… that’s a different story. Seeing it in magazines and on celebrities, you don’t realize those bangs are very, very severe, and there’s no turning back. A lot of your face is out, and you have nowhere to hide, so you really have to be comfortable with your features... If you think you have a big nose, you’re just going to think it looks bigger with that hairstyle, and you have to have good eyebrows. If you really want short bangs, start with long bangs and then slowly creep into it.
This interview has been edited and condensed.