There’s nothing more transformative than a power fringe—but knowing how to style bangs is just as important as finding the right cut. “People are afraid of the commitment of bangs, but it really is just 10 minutes every morning,” insists Mark Townsend, the pro behind Dakota Johnson’s eternally obsessed-over fringe. “As long as you style your bangs, you’re set.” While, yes, Brigitte Bardot–esque wisps or a curtain of voluminous corkscrews are technically more maintenance, pros are unanimous in their belief that it’s a minimal amount of effort for maximum payoff.
“Bangs can truly transform a haircut and allow you to reveal a new side of yourself,” says Mara Roszak, who gave Anne Hathaway a Françoise Hardy–inspired, side-swept fringe earlier this year. “What can feel like a quick and simple change is most often a major shift in the overall style. They can frame the face beautifully, highlighting the eyes and cheekbones.” For Vernon François—who recently supplied Amandla Stenberg with an ultra-blunt curtain of fringe—a set of bangs yields endless stylistic possibilities. “They are extremely versatile, from bold, statement-making, and dramatic to upgrading your overall hairstyle without overpowering it, gentle, and romantic,” he explains.
But there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to styling bangs in general. It actually depends on a lot of different factors. “Depending on your bang length, texture, and your choice to wear them curly or straight, styling can vary,” says celebrity hairstylist Lacy Redway.
“While I always encourage people to style their hair as they please, I do recommend consulting with your stylist to help determine what cut and style is best for your hair type and lifestyle, as certain styles require more maintenance than others,” adds celebrity hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons.
So with that in mind, consider this your definitive how-to guide for every type of bang. Here, hairstylists weigh in on how to style the best bangs for your hair cut and texture and give their best tricks and tips, from drying techniques to the right products for artfully zhuzhed fringe.
While steering clear of greasy-looking fringe is an aim across the board, those with stick-straight hair often need to be extra cautious. “It’s best to avoid using products in them because bangs lay against the face, and often the natural oils from the skin and hair can weigh them down,” explains Roszak. Instead, lean into drying techniques while hair is still damp. For extra volume, Townsend recommends blow-drying the hair straight down with a flat brush, like a boar-bristle Mason Pearson, and then when it’s 90 percent dry, using a round brush—held vertically—to “flick” bangs up. For a grittier, more lived-in effect, Roszak suggests rough-drying using your fingertips. In between washes, consider a targeted refresh just on the bangs. “Spritz on a dry shampoo for a quick fix versus having to do a full wash and restyle on your entire head of hair,” says François, who counts Redken’s Deep Clean Dry Shampoo as his go-to.
Ride the wave—and embrace what you’ve got. “With a long, wavy fringe, you can air-dry for an effortless wash-and-go look that emphasizes the relaxed waves of this hair texture,” says François, who tends to lean primarily on his Mist Nourishing Water as a styling primer or refresher in maintaining the S-shaped pattern of waves. In a similar spirit, Townsend encourages his wavy-haired clients to use their fingers instead of a brush and add a featherlight mist of Oribé Aprés Beach Spray to preserve their natural bends, or to lean into the ’70s-era curtain bangs look by using a round brush (held horizontally) or hot brush to sweep fringe down and away from the face to a fanned-out effect. Alternatively, if you want to set the hair in a certain wave or revive second-day bangs, Roszak says a spray water bottle and flat clips are her secret weapons. “After giving the bangs a couple of spritzes, I use one flat clip at the root of the bangs, helping them to lay flat at the root,” she explains. “I then shape them in the direction I want them to lay, often allowing for a little swoop or bend, adding two extra flat clips toward the ends.”
As a rule of thumb, the “less you handle curls, the better their shape is maintained,” says François. To air-dry, he recommends waiting until the hair is 80% dry, then twisting small sections of curly bangs. Once dry, gently separate the sections with a little serum on your fingertips. Between washes, he reaches for Kérastase Curl Manifesto Refresh Absolu to rehydrate and reactivate “bangs in need of a bounce-boosting pick-me-up.” Another strategy is “using a hair towel or T-shirt to help curls stay intact and have a beautiful natural definition out of the shower,” says Roszak. While there are many different drying techniques for enhancing your individual curl pattern, experts agree that a diffuser is the holy grail for definition and volume. “If and when curly bangs need drying, I only ever use a diffuser on a low air setting,” explains Roszak, who advises moving the hair around with your fingertips to lift the curls for volume and separation. For maximum curl and lift at the root, Townsend will cup curtains of curly fringe with Dyson’s diffuser attachment (on the lowest air setting and highest heat setting), which he loves because you can control the heat and airflow separately, key for both technique and hair health.
As is the case with curls, the less you manipulate coily and kinky textures, the better—especially when it comes to a lush curtain or cascade of fringe. When stepping out of the shower, François recommends gently patting coils with a microfiber towel to dry them without disrupting their natural shape and texture, then using a controlled amount of a rich yet lightweight hydrating smoother, like his Styling Cream, to emphasize the natural coils and offer extra moisture to the ends. Alternatively, “a drop of hair oil while finger twisting coily bangs quickly and simply defines and shines,” he adds. To bring coils back to life between cleansings, mists of a spray water bottle or leave-in conditioner, along with diffusing if needed, can help with re-enhancing, says Roszak. “To define and de-frizz coils, scrunch in a styling oil alone or along with a lightweight curl cream, scrunching and twisting the excess product into the bangs,” she instructs, emphasizing that you don’t want to overload or weigh down the hair with too much product.
To give long bangs a lift, Redway recommends using rollers. She says you’ll want to use a volumizing mousse like the Nexxus Volumizing Foam Hair Mousse on wet hair to give bangs some body and bounce. Then you’ll dry them with a round brush (preferably something that is the same width of the bangs you have) and once dry, go in with velcro rollers to cool and set in place. Once you remove the rollers, use a flexible hairspray to help hold that style.
Fitzsimons adds that you can simply clip bangs back if you’re looking to keep them out of your face. If you want to get that long curtain bang effect, he says to use a flat iron at about midshaft to give your bangs that bend.
Fitzsimons recommends stying short bands while wet so they don’t set in place quickly. Apply a styling spray, like his Andrew Fitzsimons AF1 Virgin Repair 10-in-1 Leave-In Conditioner and brush them how you want to them to lay across your forehead when dry. After you blow dry, you’ll go in with a flat iron to straighten the sections of your bangs and fold them inward as you go down to give them some bounce. Redway is also a fan of wearing short bangs straight and recommends a flat brush like the Mason Pearson to help style them.
When it comes to curtain bangs, bigger is always better. “I love styling curtain bangs with a lot of volume,” says Fitzsimons. He recommends using hot rollers on dry hair, rolling them away from your face in two sections. Keep them in for about 30 minutes and then release.
If you just want to use your dryer, Redway says that curtain bangs are best achieved with a large round brush that you can wrap your bangs around. Once you release your bangs from the brush and get that curl, she recommends using a hairspray to set everything in place. “Use your fingers to separate the ends of the bangs to create the curtain effect,” she says of the last finishing touch. “Face-framing layers are ideal for the best results of these bangs.”
According to Fitzsimons, the best way to style blunt bangs is to blow dry them downward as soon as your hair is towel dried to keep their shape intact. To give blunt bangs some volume, he says that using a barrel brush to blow them out. For a smoother finish, Redway likes to use something like the Harry Josh Pro Tools Flat Iron to straighten them out and give that silky and glossy shine.
Grown Out Bangs
That awkward stage where you are growing out bangs can pose a problem styling-wise. What can you do with them? Both Fitzsimons and Redway suggest finding ways to keep them out of your face until they fully grow out. “[It’s] a bit more about maintaining them rather than looking for styles for them,” says Fitzsimons. “I recommend pinning your bangs back if they get too long. Pull your bangs off to the side and part them in the middle, then pin them. As your bangs continue to grow out, you may want to consider turning them into a different style, such as curtain bangs or face-framing layers.”
“You can style bangs that are growing out with braids to keep them out of your face,” adds Redway. Section your hair down the middle then take smaller sections at opposite sides of your nose at your front hairline, add Nexxus Comb Thru Finishing Spray hairspray to sections then braid downward and secure with an elastic.”
This article was originally published on Vogue.com