Before you scroll even an inch further down, it's crucial to set the mood. Go ahead and toggle over to YouTube and open up Natasha Bedingfield's seminal masterpiece, "Unwritten," and let its eternal optimism and 2006-inspired vibes wash over you. Side bangs are the just-returned, mid-aughts trend every celebrity is experimenting with, and it's (almost) enough to get you on board with that polarizing The Hills reboot. But to fully understand the side bangs trend—both the original and this latest craze—it's crucial to understand its roots. Journey, if you will, back to the beginning. We're amid a full-blown side bangs revival, and it couldn't be more exciting.
Where You've Seen It
If you grew up in the era of Us Weekly and not-quite-reality TV, there weren't too many celebrities who weren't rocking side bangs. The ubiquitous side-swept bangs were prized for their manageable length—often just grazing the lashes with a tapered effect—and universally-flattering look. The Olsen Twins, Beyoncé, Lindsay Lohan, Nicole Richie, Rihanna, Janet Jackson, and Reese Witherspoon all made side bangs a staple in their hairstyle rotations, but some stars essentially made it their brand. Lauren Conrad, paragon of all things mid-aughts, was considered by many to be in possession of the ultimate side-bangs look of the day, complete with beachy highlights and ends that taped into a jaw-cradling point.
The 2022 take on side bangs is just a little bit different from the original model. It's still loved by a spate of it-girls like Dua Lipa, Ciara, Katie Holmes, Rihanna, and Camila Cabello, but the style has transformed a bit. The modern version is edgier and a little sexier than the OG, and often features a wearer-specific twist that makes it suit their existing aesthetic.
Katie Holmes' side bangs are ultra-short and edgy, while Rihanna's are chilled-out and blended with the rest of her long glossy hair. Lipa's take on side bangs is an interesting one, too, much more vision-obscuring and tousled than the side bangs of yore, while Kylie Jenner and Zoe Kravitz have opted for ultra-short bangs inspired by Audrey Hepburn.
How To Get The (Modern) Look
Because side bangs in 2022 look a bit different, it's important to not just bring in a photo of 2007-era Brenda Song and say, "Give me this"—unless that's the look you're going for, that is. Clayton Hawkins, celebrity stylist to stars like Olivia Rodrigo and Ashley Park, remembers the first side bangs wave vividly. "A lot of young A-list celebrities adopted the look (even some men) and it was a fever!" he tells Byrdie, listing the look's classic appeal and versatility as just two of the reasons for its immense popularity, both then and now. "It’s definitely a cut that needs a little bit of maintenance," he notes, "so it’s important to evaluate if it’s for you."
Hawkins says that the face shapes best suited for side bangs include round, oval, and square, and they'll require a trim every four to six weeks—a time and financial commitment to keep in mind. For those with curly hair, Hawkins points out that if you get side bangs cut with your hair blown out, you'll have to do it every time. Fortunately, side bangs require a bit less maintenance than their straight-across counterparts. "A side bang grows much more seamlessly than a straight cut one," he adds, "so if you get tired of it, just grow it out."
For the edgier, even more sultry take on the trend like the bangs seen on Dua Lipa, Sarah Potempa, Celebrity Hairstylist and The Beachwaver Co. Founder recommends asking for a slight variation on classic side bangs.
"To get this look I would ask for a long, side-swept bang with point-cut ends and longer face framing pieces," Potempa says. "The point-cutting will give you that piece-y, more lived-in, casual look where the longer, face-framing pieces will help blend with the rest of your hair." More important, though, are visual aids. "Photos are great to bring with you anytime you go to your hairdresser, so if you love this look, take it with you!"
With 2000s-era makeup, fashion, and hair all enjoying their individual moments in the sun, it's enough to warm any millennial's heart.