At the risk of sounding boastful, I have really good hair. It’s incredibly thick and can take a lot when it comes to color (my strands have run the gamut from platinum to a dark burgundy brown). Every stylist or colorist who touches my hair is blown away at the sheer mass of it, so needless to say, I’ve been rather experimental over the years. Before your eye rolls commence, I’m not here to brag. My hair is far from effortless. I have a dry, coarse texture with a natural wave that operates with reckless abandon, so I never let it air dry—it’s way too wild for that.
Styling takes forever, and most of the time it takes a day or two for my hair to settle before I’m into it (I like when it develops a natural bend and a bit of oil). To wit, I get bored easily, which means I become fixated (and possibly overambitious) when it comes to trendy cuts. Enter: French-girl bangs. You know the kind—a thick full fringe that lays across one’s forehead just so. You’ve surely witnessed them more and more recently on a range of It girls and celebrities alike. My personal inspiration was this photo of German model Julia Stegner.
Like I said, I become fixated, but I remained a bit apprehensive about taking the plunge back into banghood. I had them a few years back, but it was the side-swept kind, not this bold fringe. The topic was percolating from my lips with almost every conversation I had. Every time I showed the photo of Julia, everyone, and I mean everyone, said “You have to do it!”
I had an appointment already booked just a few weeks after sourcing inspo, and when the day came, my hairstylist Chaie from the Benjamin salon in Los Angeles (they come to New York every eight weeks for a pop-up) was so excited to transform my mane. It was exhilarating—until it wasn’t (and to no fault of Chaie’s, I might add).
As is the case for many people who get bangs, my newly trimmed strands took a while to settle. They kept fanning out, and they fought me on laying forward and flat. I had a bang trim scheduled just four weeks after the initial chop, and when I returned to Chaie, I asked her to cut them thicker for added weight—their original wispiness was preventing them from laying properly, in my opinion. After Chaie styled them post-trim, they looked amazing. But every time I styled them afterward, it was a fail.
A few more weeks went by, and amid my struggle, I consulted friends, other hairstylists I knew, and even YouTube tutorials, but to no avail. They were either looking overdone or cuckoo when I let them dry naturally—the antithesis of the laissez-faire Frenchness I dreamt of emanating. After another few weeks, I decided I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt disheartened—I was putting in so much effort and just not getting the results I wanted. The verdict: Let the grow-out begin.
They were either looking overdone or cuckoo when I let them dry naturally—the antithesis of the laissez-faire Frenchness I dreamt of emanating.
At my next hair appointment, I informed Chaie that the bangs had to go. Despite telling me they were the best thing we ever did for my hair after the initial cut, she was understanding of how problematic they had become for me. I watched her meticulously reshape them so that they blended better with the rest of my hair, and I asked her a few questions along the way in terms of the grow-out process.
Chaie explained that when clients decide they want to get bangs, she first analyzes if bangs will suit them. If they do, she’ll ask for and inspiration photo and gauge if the look they’re going for is realistic for their texture, face shape, and lifestyle. Okay, well, I nailed that part. “I’ll cut it with the idea in mind but customized to each client’s needs,” she explained. She says she knew bangs would suit me, but she anticipated a lot of extra work with styling due to my texture. My hair’s waviness proved far too aggressive for the shortened stands. Plus I have a cowlick, which also impeded my bang success.
She went on to explain the importance of consulting with your hairstylist before you commit to a major change so they can educate you enough on upkeep. But we talked about it, and I was committed! Since I had bangs before, I didn’t anticipate them being this troublesome. Chaie explained, “Hair changes, so if it worked when you were younger, it might be different as an adult.” Okay, yes. Lesson learned there.
As for the regrowth process, Chaie says she always has a “hair plan” in mind for when a client decides to grow out bangs. This will ensure they look good regardless of what stage they’re in. “The side-swept bang is the first step, so I’ll cut them according to how you part your hair," explains Chaie. “I’ll texturize the bangs or thin them out so it doesn’t look bulky, and then blend them or add face-framing layers so it’s not obvious that you’re growing out your bangs.”
Chaie says hair accessories are another great tool for growing out bangs. “Clips, headbands, and bandanas can help hide them, and are super stylish. Products like a wax are really important, too, so that bangs become more tamed or manageable.” While I saw the same stylist throughout my bang process, not everyone is the same, especially if they tried a new stylist, disliked the result, and want to see someone else.
While I saw the same stylist throughout my bang process, not everyone is the same, especially if they tried a new stylist, disliked the result, and want to see someone else.
Chaie says if you see a new stylist while you’re in the process of growing out your bangs, tell them right away so he or she can map out a cut for you. “It starts in the consult—I always ask if they’re growing out their bangs or keeping them. There is no awkward stage of growing out bangs if the hairstylist has a hair plan for you.” Patience is definitely key when growing out bangs or hair in general, and healthy hair is very important for faster regrowth, says Chaie.
In terms of styling bangs while you’re growing them out, Chaie says bang trims are key. “When someone is growing hair out, they should see their hairstylist more frequently. Everyone has a different pace when it comes to hair growth, but getting haircuts, trims, or baby cuts (literally almost cutting nothing) to get rid of the dead ends or split ends really helps.”
Specifically in my case, Chaie says I need to dry it right away after washing to work out the wave and cowlick. If the wave is lingering, she says to tap it a tiny bit with a flat iron for a smoother finish, but at a reasonable heat. “If you’re using the right tools and setting the temperature to 360 degrees, your hair should be good.”
Chaie says the use of professional shampoo and conditioner is the foundation of great hair, as well as brushing your hair from scalp to ends. “It’s as simple as what our grandmas always told us: Brush your hair a hundred times.” She also recommends collagen, biotin, prenatal vitamins, fish oil, or hair supplements, as they are vital to encouraging hair growth. A healthy diet with lots of water will help, too. “When you see your hairstylist, ask if the salon offers scalp or hair treatments or masks. These will aid in nourishing hair during the regrowth process.”
Bangs may have not have worked for me this time around, but I’m not here to discourage. I love bangs and still envy them on so many people. Chaie agrees, “I believe everyone can have bangs as long as they’re done right. Although it requires extra work, they’re fun to have, and they frame the face nicely. The best thing about hair is that it grows—if your hairstylist has a hair plan for you, then growing out something you don’t like in the end will never be a problem.”
There you have it—everything you need to know if you’re considering getting bangs.