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How to Wear Bangs

Bangs are one of the most stylish ways to eliminate wrinkles without having to rely on costly creams or Botox injections. OK, maybe not eliminate, but mask. A fashionable fringe on the forehead is cute and covers those pesky little lines that can appear after years of raising our eyebrows in surprise or furrowing our brow in concentration.

Bangs can instantly transform your appearance and the entire look of your face, depending on how you wear them. You could try the always-adorable Bettie Page trademark cut, a sleek and sophisticated look inspired by Katie Holmes' bob, or even something wispy worn to the side like Nicole Richie. No matter what your personality or face, there is a style that is best-suited to your look.

If you haven't tried bangs since the days when you could've passed as an extra in a White Snake video-thank you, Aqua Net!-it might be time to revisit this style. This isn't to say you should grab the scissors and start hacking away at the hair around your face. While bangs can look flirty or chic, they have a high potential for disaster and will be front and center if something goes terribly awry.

Preparing For the Haircut

Choosing a great hairstyle is all about finding a cut and style that works best for the shape of your face, the features that you want to highlight and any areas that you wish to downplay.

Ideally, you already work with a hairstylist who takes the time and effort to evaluate your facial structure and alter popular cuts to play to your strongest features. Even so, it doesn't hurt to go into the stylist's chair with good background knowledge of what works for you and what doesn't. This will facilitate the dialogue between you and the stylist and help you to avoid any unrealistic expectations and heartache.

Start by pinning your hair back from your face so you can get a good look at the canvas you will be working with. Spend a few minutes looking in the mirror at various angles to determine the shape of your face. Listed below are some of the primary shapes and the types of bangs best suited for them:

Heart Shaped Faces - A heart shaped face is wider at the forehead and temples and tapering down into a small chin (think Reese Witherspoon and Naomi Campbell). These ladies look best with longer, wispier side-swept bangs that help to draw attention to the eyes.

Round Face - These fuller faces are rounded at the forehead and chin, with the fullest part of the face at the cheeks and typically softer features (a la, Kate Winslet and Drew Barrymore). For a less drastic yet flattering look, you can try longer wispy bangs similar to the heart-shaped ladies. For something more dramatic, ask for bangs that are cut thick and curved. Contouring is important to give rounder faces the best look, so avoid a cut that goes straight across the forehead.

Square Faces - A strong jaw line and equally strong forehead that are similar in width are the telltale signs of a square face (picture Minnie Driver and Demi Moore). Forget a blunt bang that goes straight across the forehead and ask for longer side-swept bangs that hit just below the eyebrow and get a bit longer on the sides.

Oval Faces - This face is slightly narrower at the jaw with a rounded hairline. Women with oval shapes are sometimes said to be blessed with versatile faces that can pull off a variety of cuts and styles. Work closely with your stylist to select bangs that will match your hair texture and daily routine.

Styling Secrets for Wearing Bangs

Your stylist is your go-to resource when it comes to learning how best to style your bangs. Ask your hairdresser to recommend the right kind of product to use in your bangs-mousse, gel, pomade, wax, hairspray, etc.-as well as how much to apply and at which point in the styling process. Ask them to show you the best blow-drying technique and whether you should towel dry your bangs or begin the styling process when they are soaking wet.

Depending on the cut of your bangs and your desired end result, you may need to use additional hair-styling tools such as a flat-iron (for super blunt fringes) or a large barrel curling iron (for longer, softer bangs). If that is the case, ask for instruction on how to achieve your finished look. A great stylist will take the time to teach you about caring for your hair, but be sure that when you make the appointment, you ask them to pad it with a few extra minutes for instruction. Tip accordingly for your stylist's time!


Avoiding Mishaps with Your New Look

Because they are sometimes literally in your face, bangs in need of a serious trim can irk even the most patient woman. Resist the temptation to perform monthly maintenance unless you feel uber-confident in your abilities to wield scissors while simultaneously looking up at your hair and in a mirror. In other words: do not try this one at home.

Your salon may have an option where you can get free or super cheap between-cut trims to keep your bangs looking great, or just plan on reducing the wait-time between your regular appointments.

There are a few stand-out styles to shrink from:

  • bangs that are super, super short (while cute on some women, these can also make you look like the victim of a do-it-yourself cut);
  • bangs that are too thick (you risk looking like a schoolgirl or a doll); and
  • bangs that are too curly, poofy or with too much height (because of all the '80s and '90s inspired styles to make a comeback, "The Wave" bangs needn't be one of them).

Bobby pins, little clips and headbands are a must-have for days when you don't have enough time to wash, dry and style your bangs into submission. Another trick: if you wash and blow-dry your hair at night, secure your bangs with a bobby pin while you sleep so they'll stay off of your forehead, and avoid contact with your thick overnight face cream. Nothing looks worse than greasy bangs that segment and lay listless on your forehead.