OK, we all know you’re not supposed to cut your own bangs. But sometimes a crazed schedule, tight budget and other life complications can get in the way of a salon visit. So we asked some of the top pros for tips on how to DIY without looking like you’ve undergone some terrible at-home experiment.
First, make sure you’re using the right tool. Cuticle scissors work great, or buy hair cutting scissors from a local trade store like Sally Beauty Supply, advises stylist Alissa Smith, who is dubbed “the queen of bangs” at the Mèche Salon in Beverly Hills. You don’t need to spend more than $50 for a quality pair.
Work on dry hair and always angle your shears vertically to “chip” into hair slowly with the scissor tips. “Never cut like you would a piece of paper—that spells commitment!” warns L’Oréal Professionnel Artist Pepper Pastor, who spritzes Mythic Oil Reinforcing Milk on bangs to tame flyaways and keep strands from shifting before trimming.
The trimming method you should use depends on the type of bangs you have (find out which bangs are best for your face shape here). One bonus is that all types of fringe shave years off the face and make it appear more svelte. “Bangs naturally contour the face and open it up to show off the cheekbones and features,” says Red Door Spa National Training Director Woody Michleb, of the youth-defying style.Here’s how to nail the right trimming technique depending on your face-framing style.
“Side fringe is very flattering on everyone,” says Michleb of the come-hither look. Eyebrows play a key role in determining which side is most flattering for the sweep; figure out which brow is higher, and the shorter bang should fall on the other side for the best complement. Take the full triangle-shaped bang section and direct it to the opposite side that you want it to fall on, cutting into it with the points of your scissors. Then let go, and use your fingertips to swoop strands back to the preferred side.
Short blunt bangs
First, a warning: These are the trickiest bangs to cut yourself, so proceed with caution by cutting longer than you think at first. Use a comb to hold your strands taut (but not too tight!) and then cut straight across while still holding bangs in place with a comb, advises Smith. “A great trick for a straighter line is to cut from center to left corner, and then from right corner to center if you’re right-handed—and if you’re lefty, go opposite, from center to right corner and left corner to center,” she adds.
“Brigitte Bardot really set the bar high in the 60s with these beauties!” says Smith. Take a center section as wide as the space between your brows and cut with scissors pointing upward to determine the center length that will guide the two other sections. Then take a side section and over-direct it by pulling it over the first section you just cut, and point up with scissors to trim, instructs Smith. Repeat on the other side. You’ll have a modern version that is shorter in the center and longer at the temples.
Long fringe bangs
“This is a safe length for someone who hasn’t had a fringe before and who wants to take the first step,” says Michleb. Smith gives these instructions, which she says are the easiest of all to do at home: Take the entire bang section from temple to temple and twist it all together towards the center like a rope. With your scissors pointed down, cut into hair in a “chewing” motion down the coiled section to create soft, long bangs. Try splitting bangs down the middle for a center part variation that Adele often rocks.
“These bangs are quite forgiving, so have fun with this!” says Smith, of the style we often see paired with a pixie cut. Take random sub sections from the bang section, and twist them straight down. Instead of cutting down, angle your scissors to the left or right and open and close the scissors while moving down the strands. “Shake them out to see what you’ve got, and then keep repeating the steps until you’ve created the perfect Winona Ryder circa 1994 fringe,” says Smith.
One last caveat…
Unless you’re very skilled, repeatedly cutting your own bangs could get scary and lopsided after a few rounds, so for an expert’s take on the perfect fringe for you, check out these bang-ing salons that our experts hail from. For locations near you: Red Door Spa, L’Oréal Professionnel salons and Mèche Salon.