Curly Bangs 101: Everything you need to know before getting them

When I got my first set of curly bangs, a glow-up immediately ensued. I was fresh out of college, and I still remember how free and flawless I felt after getting layers and fringe for the first time. Styling my curls became so much easier, and I couldn’t stop staring at my front-facing camera, wondering why I’d taken so long to do it in the first place. Anyone who’s successfully taken the plunge with bangs knows the vibe: That exhilarating feeling when you take a beauty risk that pays off and doesn’t end in tears and disaster.

Though my foray into fringe was way back in 2015, the 70s-inspired look has gripped the trend cycle so you may be considering some curly bangs for yourself. They are a commitment, no doubt—but they also hold a unique power to showcase your facial features, switch up your vibe, and even make your styling process more seamless (not to mention offering an energy shift that screams “new me”). One might cringe at a mental image of mullets from the’ 80s—those meticulously carved perms that haunt countless family photo albums to this day—but when executed correctly, they can be a game changer.

So if you can’t stop swooning over tousled layers while scrolling through social, it might be time to try the look for yourself. Whether you’re ushering in a major life change, wanting a new look to match, or feeling inspired by fall fashion campaigns featuring face-framing fringe, you’ve come to the right place.

I’ve had my fair share of experience dealing with my curly cuts, but I wanted to get experts’ two cents on essential tips to consider before making your appointment. So check out their wise words below before dialing up your stylist, and may the fringe be ever in your favor!

Bangs are transformative.

By nature, bangs dramatically impact your facial features and proportions. So it’s only natural that a fringe haircut would have transformative effects. I found that my shag softened my face—slightly diffusing the severity of my thick, dark brows—while adding definition and placing greater emphasis on my cheekbones. “Depending on where you cut them, you can use bangs to accentuate or draw attention to your desired features or make your look stronger or softer,” explains Mischa.

Fake it till you make it.

If you’re unsure if the look is for you, fake the bangs in the mirror first. I’ve thrown my hair into an updo and pinned a section in the front beneath a bandana (with the ends left around my face) to give off the same vibe. Vernon François—celebrity hairstylist, educator, brand founder, and the mastermind behind iconic looks donned by Lupita Nyong’o, Tessa Thompson, and Willow Smith (the list goes on)—recommends creating a quiff with pins or clips to change up your look. “If your hair is long enough, take a center section of hair, fold it back on itself, and pin in place with a clip, hair comb, or bobby pins,” he says.

Extra volume and texture are a given.

“One of my favorite things to show clients with a new fringe is how the hair looks up,” Mischa tells me. From topknots to pigtail braids, extra “bits,” as she likes to call the layers around the face, are a game-changer for updos. The extra volume and texture go a long way—especially for curls—and make everything look more interesting.

A fringe is a ready-made style statement.

Much like bleaching your hair platinum blonde or dyeing it a neon fantasy color, a fringe, whether blunt or a bit softer, is a style statement in and of itself. As long as you’re taking proper care of your bangs (more on that in a minute), they’re enhancing your overall look and making you appear more put together. “Whether it’s short bangs, long bangs, curved bangs, rounded bangs, or layered bangs, it’s all about finding what works for you,” says Mischa. “Once you have that, it’s always going to make it look like you’ve done so much more.”

Start with a shag.

Getting bangs doesn’t have to feel so dramatic, and the textured shag that’s been having a moment for quite some time now is a great way to ease in. Instead, opt for tousled layering around your face for a flirty seasonal refresh. “Curly bangs cut into a longer shaggy style are great for fall—they work well with hats this season for a casual look,” says François. “Think woolly bobble hats or caps lined with satin or silk, which is kind to strands by minimizing friction. Pair back bangs with clips, or add a part on the days you want to switch up your style.” In other words, go for the gusto and experiment with accessories to top off your new’ do.

Don’t be overzealous about taking off a ton of length at first. “Always seek the services of a professional hairdresser experienced in working with your hair texture, who will give you a consultation first—and if anything, go longer first,” says François. “You can always have a little more trimmed after it’s been styled.”

Suppose you’re feeling hesitant but want to test it out. In that case, Jamilla Powell, owner of Miami’s Maggie Rose Salon and Naturally Drenched hair care, recommends going shorter and shorter over a few months. “If you’re new to bangs and feeling nervous, consider starting with a longer style and gradually taking it up a notch every couple of weeks.”

Keep shrinkage in mind.

Do one grave mistake novice stylists make when it comes to curly hair? Not considering shrinkage. This is why many textured hair experts recommend getting a dry cut. “Shrinkage is the amount that your curls, coils, kinks, or waves spring back and curl up after cleansing and conditioning or simply wetting, once strands are dried,” François explains. The last thing you want to do is overestimate your length when your strands are wet, straightened, or stretched and then find too much space between your hairline and eyebrows. (That is if micro bangs weren’t what you were going for.)

Powell stresses the importance of being vocal with your stylist before they whip out the shears: “Before committing to curly bangs, make sure you tell your stylist to cut your bangs while your hair is dry! Your curl pattern can be completely different when your hair is dry compared to when it’s wet, which can result in curl shrinkage and make it tricky to cut perfect bangs. By cutting your bangs while your hair is dry, you’ll be able to ensure that you get the accurate length, style, and shape you’re aiming for.”

High maintenance can come with a high reward.

In my experience, the funny thing about bangs is that they simultaneously make your hair-care routine harder and easier. Due to absorbing more oil and sweat from the face, bangs get greasier faster, so you have to shampoo and reset more often—especially if you have curlier hair. (In between washes, a few veils of a mist of dry shampoo, like Klorane or Briogeo’s Scalp Revival, or a quick wet-and-reset with Dyson’s Supersonic Diffuser hair dryer have done wonders.) And, of course, you have to commit to regular bang trims every couple of weeks. But in the end, it’s worth it because your style pays dividends as long as you work to keep your bangs on point.

Schedule regular trims (or DIY with caution).

Trimming your bangs regularly is one major key to keeping them in tip-top shape. This will put more bounce in your tendrils and get rid of dead ends, and it’ll help you avoid an overgrown look and keep your ends just grazing your eyebrows. “If you have curly bangs, the best way to maintain them is to trim them every four to six weeks,” says François. “Make sure you stick to this routine and don’t wait too long to get them trimmed. Not only will keeping up with your trims ensure that you keep your bangs at the perfect length, but it will also ensure that your hair is healthy, strong, and free of split ends.”

Curly icon Brit Watkins supports an at-home trim if you’re unable or unwilling to go to the salon. “I follow the guide of my lips when trimming bangs,” she says. “If I pull them down and they’re shorter than the top of my lips, I won’t like them on me; they’ll shrink up too short after styling. So I always start by cutting them longer than I want them, and I try to cut on days where the dew points are from 35°F to 60°F because my hair is less prone to shrink. As a result, I’m getting a more true-to-form hang of my length. First-timers, maybe get them done professionally, and then follow the trim steps at home. This is not a game!”

Keep them thriving.

Keeping the right products on deck is essential once you’ve found a stylist and cut you, love. Curl creams, refreshing sprays, and curly conditioners will keep your strands thriving and help you get the most out of your new look. “Be sure to keep your curly bangs moisturized and hydrated, so they look and feel their healthiest,” says François. “The MIST~ Nourishing Water from my collection is perfect for this. You might find that spritzing and twisting curly bangs more often than the rest of your hair helps to keep them energized. Once you’re happy with how they’re looking, just let them be. The less you touch them, the longer your curls will last.”

“Aside from getting regular trims, there are a couple of other ways you can ensure that your bangs stay healthy,” says Powell. “For starters, make sure you wash or spritz them more than you typically would the rest of your hair. Curly bangs will get dirty, greasy, and more disheveled than your hair typically does, so make sure you give them a little extra love. Another easy way to keep curly bangs healthy is by using your fingers to style them, as opposed to a brush. Brushes will take the bounce and curl out of your bangs, and could potentially result in damage. Instead, use your fingers scrunch and style your bangs as you see fit.”

Have fun!

I know getting a chop can be anxiety-inducing, but at the end of the day, it’s just hair! So don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun. It’s about testing things out and finding the right look for you. Of course, the worst that can happen is you have one of those questionable family photos to look back on one day—but if you follow these expert tips, chances are you’ll think of it fondly (and might even deem this your signature look for years to come).

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