Katie is a public interest lawyer living in Chicago with her husband, a basil plant named Boris, and a staggeringly large collection of cookbooks. She has very strong feelings about public schools, letterpress stationary, and beer. (And hair, obviously.) You can also find her at her personal blog, Pseudostoops.
In my last installment, I counseled those seeking low maintenance hair to consider side bangs.
I have had side bangs for several years now, and to be totally honest, they did not start on a good note. (I tried to find a picture of Katie’s Bangs: The Early Years to share with you, but mercifully I’ve switched computers since then and all those pictures seem to be lost.)
The woman who cut them was, in retrospect, clearly a trainee, and English was not her first language, and when I said “I have a cowlick on the side there” she looked at me inquisitively and said “cowlick?”
(Note: if any of these conditions occur at the salon where you are considering getting side bangs for the first time: RECONSIDER.)
Six years later I still have side bangs, and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Today, I will share that wisdom with you in the form of a Side Bangs Tutorial. (Some of you hair experts out there are doubtlessly thinking, “Really? A tutorial? For how to wrangle bangs? What kind of amateur hour is this?” To which I say, “For some of us not blessed with intrinsic hair genius, this stuff is NOT OBVIOUS, and if I help even one person through this tutorial I will feel I have done something good here.”)
The first key to successful side bangs is getting them cut properly. If you’re new to the world of bangs, ease into it by asking your stylist to cut them long and side-swept. When they’re longer, it’s easier to sweep them in with the rest of your hair, easier to pin them back if need be, and if you end up hating them, they’ll grow out faster.
If you have a cowlick, you’ll want to make sure that the cowlick is entirely contained within the bangs. So, if your cowlick is slightly on the right side of your forehead, you’ll want to part your hair on the left, cut some sweep-y bangs, and have them sweep to the right, thus covering up the cowlick. If the cowlick is on the left side of your forehead, part hair on the right, sweep bangs to the left.
Everyday blow dry
Here is my wet hair in all its natural glory.
Close up reveals both cowlick AND a widow’s peak! Bonus!
To achieve perfect side bangs, you will need:
Hair dryer, round brush, and some kind of cheap-o styling gel. (I use Garnier Fructis styling milk, which costs a whopping $4 at the grocery store and de-frizzes without leaving any greasiness or stickiness at all. Highly recommend.)
Take your wet hair and maybe even pin back the main section to keep it out of your way. (Bangs should always be dried first.) With your fingers or a comb, separate out the chunk of hair around your face.
Brush the bangs off to one side and, holding them down gently with the round brush, blow dry with the dryer pointing downward. (Turns out this is awfully hard to do one-handed while trying to take a picture. Imagine the hand holding the camera actually holding a brush and gently pinning the hair against my forehead. Also try to picture me using eye cream or something to address the serious puffiness situation we’ve got going here.)
Sweep the bangs across to the other side of your forehead. Repeat.
Go back and forth a couple times like this, blow dryer always pointing downwards. Maybe, for good measure, brush the bangs straight down, too.
Finish by sweeping them to the angle you want to wear them. Point the dryer at them for several seconds, then turn off the dryer, brush through, and, if you are paranoid about them shifting, spritz them with a little spray. I do not do this step, as I loathe hairspray. The whole thing, start to finish, takes about 2 minutes. Ta da!
Final note: Also, if you have wavy hair, or a cowlick on your forehead, you must never, ever, EVER do this:
It will cause your hair to puff up and curl under and get all big and you will spend the rest of your day fighting the urge to peg your jeans and belt out Poison lyrics.
Once your bangs are dry, you have many options. You could blow dry the rest of your hair, or you could do what I do most days and just toss it into a loose bun, which I take down an hour or so later. Loose bun creates gentle waves, plus no blow drying. Bonus!
Sometimes, something will go awry, and your bangs will be unwieldy. In those circumstances, there are a few things you can do.
- Flat iron. If you have one, a flat iron can save your butt in those times when your bangs aren’t cooperating.
- Bobby pin. Easy, cheap, effective. Twist your bangs gently, pull back at an angle, pin.
Look! Simple, classy, intentional-looking hair!
(I also use this trick when it’s cold and I have to wear a hat for my commute OR when it’s hot and there’s a risk of forehead sweat. I pin my bangs back away from my forehead for my commute, and then remove the pin when I get to work. Pinning them keeps them looking fresh and straight.)
There you have it- more than you ever wanted to know about side bangs, and how they truly can be low-maintenance.