Low Maintenance Hair: Side Bangs Tutorial


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.”)

Cutting guide

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!

Emergency circumstances

Sometimes, something will go awry, and your bangs will be unwieldy.  In those circumstances, there are a few things you can do.

  1. Flat iron.  If you have one, a flat iron can save your butt in those times when your bangs aren’t cooperating.
  2. 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.


Best Valentine’s Day Ever and WINBT Update


This whole not shopping thing is killing me dead. January was a breeze – who cares about the fall and winter has-beens? I don’t! However, February has been a different story. Spring fashion issues of my favorite magazines are in the mailbox, fresh and breezy looks from my favorite stores are popping up everywhere I turn, and new color palettes (silver grays! muted coral pinks!) are tempting me something fierce.


I am not ashamed to admit that I almost shed a tear over J. Crew’s spring catalog. Thumbing through the entire thing was just too hard for me – I had to break it up into tiny, manageable 10-minute increments over the course of a week. Of course, Southern California’s year-round beachy weather makes these catalogs nearly impossible to deny. See this darling bikini and cover-up?



Hello, I would like to wear this to the beach next week. (Love the detail on the top.) No need to wait for Old Man Winter to take a hike around these parts, thus fanning my Want Want Want flame.

I will remain steadfast.

To be completely honest, the reason I WILL remain steadfast is mainly due to my husband’s complete AWESOMENESS. For Valentine’s Day, he bought me the Wayfarers, the Martin+Osa pink top AND this fun navy cardigan:


Martin + Osa

(FYI – He scored a great deal on all three of these items at Martin+Osa. The sweater was originally 30% off PLUS he got an extra 30% on all three items.)

((I feel strongly compelled to tell you that I wore the navy cardigan with a white wife beater, trouser jeans, orange flats and a gold necklace yesterday.))

(((The one thing I learned this week about the not shopping thing is when you DO receive something, you appreciate it MUCH more.)))

((((I serenaded my sunglasses yesterday. Everlong by Foo Fighters.))))

However, not the best part of the day by any stretch of the imagination! I received these beauties:


Wito helped select the flowers, which trust me, he would tell you if you were here. “I LOVE picking some flowers!” came out of his mouth 1,236 times yesterday.

Though, still not the best part!

D offered to make me dinner, take me out to dinner, whatever I wanted. My choice was an In-N-Out Double-Double (animal style, holla), french fries and a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. All consumed while watching the NBA Slam Dunk contest last night on my couch. (12-foot dunk, Dwight? HOLY SHIT. Did you see how easy he made it look?)

Valentine’s Day, please visit again soon.


Grace in Small Things: Part 15 of 365


1. An old friend who is willing to come over and drink margaritas with me at 2pm on a Thursday. (I promise, we will NOT attempt making an olive pie again. I think.)

2. Stoneyfield Vanilla Yogurt

3. The Woman in You by Ben Harper (Listen to it NOW.)

4. Seeing Andrew Bird in less than a week

5. Hanging new art in the living room. The collage wall has been retired!


hair thursday makeover 57


Meet Meghan.

Meghan’s hair:

Naturally light brown with lots of gray
Very dry and chemically processed
Very fine hair, tends to frizz if not blow-dried
Likes long hair, but isn’t sure if it works for her
Wonders about red or strawberry blond hair
Uses moisturizing shampoo and conditioner (Aveda Damage Control or Neutrogena Triple Moisture)
Can’t wash it every day because of the dryness
Uses a shaping creme or Fekkai Glossing Creme with a paddle brush to smooth
Air-dries for a wavy look on occasion

I think Meghan is doing everything right with this look. The length is perfect for her face shape, the long sideswept bangs accent her eyes beautifully and the style promotes great movement.

Meghan also sent me a photo of a past longer hairstyle.

I can say with 100% certainty that the shorter hair is a much more chic look for Meghan. Don’t you agree? I truly would not change a thing in regards to her current cut. I love it!

Meghan did mention daydreaming about red hair and I think she could pull off a strawberry blond color with her fair complexion. Anything more intense in regards to red would probably look too stark against her skin. Her current stylist highlights and lowlights her hair…I wonder if her stylist could achieve a strawberry blond look by lowlighting with a redder tone? Maybe something similar to this?

I really love this strawberry blond color shown on model Maggie Rizer. Come to think of it, Meghan looks a lot like Maggie! This could be a great color for Meghan.

What do you all think? Should Meghan go strawberry blond?

As for products for drier, chemically-processed hair, Pureology NanoWorks line is awesome. I would recommend the NanoWorks Luxury Hair Masque once a week to keep her Meghan’s hair moisturized, revitalized and protected. (I know, I know. It’s expensive…but it lasts forever and it WORKS.)