How to Pull Off Curly Bangs
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Curly bangs look a-maz-ing. Seriously, when done right, is there a look that’s quite as effortlessly edgy? If all that’s holding you back from trying the style is a fear of frizz or not knowing how to maintain even more curls, consider this a game-changer. We hit up our Mane Masters for start-to-finish advice on all things curly bangs—from how they should be cut to how to keep them up, so head to the salon stat, because yolo.
The First Cut
It seems obvious, but how curly bangs are originally shaped determines everything. Remember, there’s no harm in playing it safe and starting off longer, especially if it’s your first time trying the trend. “You can always go shorter but you can’t get the length back once you cut them,” says Garren, Celebrity Stylist and Co-Founder of R+Co.
Shape is top priority for curly bangs, especially. “When you’re getting bangs cut, they should be cut in an arch,” he says. An arch, as Garren defines it, is “the way they blend into the sides and the bottom lengths. The part that needs to be the shortest is from center of the eye to center of the other eye. You’ll want an extreme curve/arch so they get longer at the sides and it blends nicely,” he continues.
Again, he suggests playing it safe with bang length. “I wouldn’t cut them too deep,” he adds, referring to not cutting your bangs too far back on the head. “I would start with a light version and then add more to blend in, if needed,” he continues.
Aaron Grenia, Co-founder of IGK Hair Care, agrees and tells us that if your bangs are curly, they shouldn’t be treated like the same way as straight hair. “A safe bet is a slightly rounded shape that sits just above the eyebrows. Erring on the longer side will give you more options – they’ll blend well if you want to wear your hair in looser curls or straight, and work if you wear them shorter with a tighter curl.”
Before you let your stylist pick up the scissors, make sure you’re on the same page to avoid any potential mishaps. “Have a proper consultation with your stylist to talk about bang length, and make sure he or she is aware of the shrinking curl pattern. Ask for the length you want when the hair is dry so the stylist can adjust for shrinkage,” says Coby Alcantar, Oribe Director of Training & Content, Cutting.
Garren also points out that cutting curly bangs wet versus dry can have an impact on your result. “When you’re cutting bangs when the hair is wet, you want the hair pulled down over the eyes,” he explains. “Pull them down below the bridge of the nose, and then cut them in an arch, like a horseshoe. Once your hair dries, they’ll shrink up and become bangs. Or you can let the bangs dry naturally and then pull them down and cut them,” he says of the different approaches.
While there’s no “perfect” length for curly bangs, don’t forget practicality—you want to be able to actually see behind your new ‘do. “The ideal length is the bridge of the nose—so you have clearance and can actually see,” says Coby. “This length will allow you to wear them forward and not off to the side. For bangs to best blend and evolve with the rest of the cut, create translucency by cutting the hairline a little shorter than the section behind it (an undercut).”
Covet + Avoid
As this is a trickier look to maintain, there are certain things you might want to steer totally clear of. “If you have a coarser curl or really wild hair, I would avoid cutting bangs too short. If you want a shorter bang, you could do a semi-blown-out bang to give direction and control then add product in to let the curl revert back,” advises Coby.
In general, a hands-off approach is best as curls are super-delicate. “If you’re keeping your bangs curly, you want the curl pattern to match the rest of your hair. Avoid overloading your bangs with products or touching them too much, and don’t blow dry them,” says Aaron.
There are definite don’ts when maintaining your curly bangs. “Avoid roughing bangs up when drying,” urges Garren. “If the wind hits it and it doesn’t settle down, add TINSEL Smoothing Oil:$25 in your bangs (especially since it’s small enough to just carry in your purse). Just put a little in your fingers and add to the ends to keep them solid,” he says. “ANALOG Cleansing Foam Conditioner:$30 will also help add weight to finer/frizzier hair. If you also have any FREEWAY Defining Spray Gel:$29 or TWISTER Curl Primer:$27 in your hair already, you could also just add some water and it will reactivate the product,” he says of the R+Co prescription. “When you use TWISTER evenly throughout your hair, it will create an even wave pattern,” he adds. “MOTORCYCLE Flexible Gel: $26 will also help to separate and keep the curls soft, but you can also use FREEWAY.”
Of course, you’ll also need the right shampoo and conditioner. Garren recommends TELEVISION Perfect Hair Shampoo: $30 and Conditioner: $32 and adding WATERFALL Moisture + Shine Lotion: $29 to give hair enough weight that it forms a curl. How you apply your products definitely makes a difference—think of it like K-Beauty for your strands. “The order should be TELEVISION, then WATERFALL, then FREEWAY or MOTORCYCLE,” he says.
Coby relies on Oribe but her regimen is just as detailed. “Always start with Foundation Mist:$32, which is a lightweight mist that defines curls without heaviness,” she urges. “For a smooth, natural finish, apply Curl Control Silkening Creme:$39. This will give the curl softness and add hydration so the curl can be what it wants to be. For a more disrupted curl pattern, I suggest Gel Serum:$63, which will provide more stick to sculpt and control.” If you’re looking for “a very disrupted curl pattern,” she suggests applying the Gel Serum, combing through, flattening to the head and scrunch the curl back in with your hands. “This will control the root and tame any cowlicks,” she shares. No matter what your texture, she suggests Mystify Restyling Spray:$44 “to re-shape the curl on the second day or bring the curl back to life if you’ve over styled.”
For curls of all lengths, hydration is key. “It’s best to keep curly hair hydrated to reduce frizz and enhance your natural curl and shine. I don’t like to put too much product on bangs,” says Aaron who opts for less is more with IGK SMOKE & MIRRORS Conditioning Cleansing Oil:$29. “It’s a 2-in-1 shampoo & conditioner that cleanses without stripping your natural oils. When styling your curls, you can add extra hydration with THIRSTY GIRL Coconut Milk Leave-in Conditioner:$28, or a little MISTRESS Hydrating Hair Balm:$29. Comb with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb,” he advises.
Committing to curly bangs is a great option for switching it up in the summer, especially, because there’s no blow dryer required. “Letting your curly hair naturally air dry without touching it will give you the best results,” says Aaron, who swears by NO MORE BLOW High Speed Air Dry Spray:$29. “It helps your hair air dry up to 46% faster, which means less bending, frizz and breakage- so your curls dry faster and dry better,” he says—and this can make a huge difference. “When your hair is about 80% dry, use a mixture of RICH KID Coconut Oil Air Dry Styler:$29 and MISTRESS Hydrating Hair Balm:$29 from mid-lengths to ends to define the curl, add shine and a little hold,” he says of finishing off the look.
Keeping Up with Curly Bangs
Bangs of all kinds require more maintenance than a one-length cut—but the results are worth it. “Your approach to curly bangs is almost the same as straight bangs—see a stylist regularly for a bang trim and get a cut that you can easily grow out,” says Coby. “Because bangs are shorter, use a lightweight product to shape them, as sometimes the scalp can get oily and heavy product in the bangs is usually the culprit.”
Above all else, curly bangs are a fun expression of your personality—and that’s always beautiful! “Be free with your curly bangs—let them be wild and uniquely yours,” she encourages. “Everyone’s curls are different and when cut short it will exaggerate the curl pattern’s personality. Go for it and let them be!”