So, You Want to Trim Your Bangs at Home…

We went to the pros to learn how to do it without messing up

Well, well, well. We appear to have arrived at that phase of self-isolation. You’ve had one three too many glasses of wine, you’re running out of shows to binge (Netflix, if you’re listening, we could really use that second season of Love is Blind right about now) and you find yourself stopping abruptly to examine your hair every time you walk past a mirror, asking yourself the age-old question: “Should I get bangs?

Let’s stop right there. If you currently don’t have bangs and are contemplating getting them for the first time, maybe, oh I don’t know…don’t. Or at least just think about it for a while. Though it may be tempting to indulge in a major hair makeover right now, you might end up regretting it (especially after all that wine). So sleep it off, text your hairstylist in the morning and bake another sourdough loaf to distract yourself. And when you inevitably end up doing it anyway? Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

For those of you who already had bangs before going into self-isolation, by now you’re probably having a hard time seeing through that overgrown wispy curtain of hair. If you need to trim your bangs for reasons directly related to your vision, I feel your pain, and went straight to the pros to help you do it at home (without messing up!) until you can get back to a salon.

First of all, what tools are needed?

Other than a sharp pair of shears (not kitchen scissors), you’ll need a few clips and a comb, says celebrity hairstylist Bridget Brager, whose client list includes Lucy Hale, Diane Kruger and January Jones.

“Kitchen scissors can be dull and make the ends of your bangs appear shredded,” says Toronto-based hairstylist and owner of Jason Lee Salon, Jason Lee. “They can also take off more than you expect because they tend to be bulky.”

Wait—are we doing this on wet or dry hair? 

“Wash and style your hair first,” suggests Brager. “I call this prep work. Remember: hair shrinks [when it dries], especially if you have curly hair. I like to wash with a shampoo and conditioner duo like Herbal Essences Bio:renew Sulfate-Free Aloe & Hemp and then style hair like you would normally, whether you blow it out or let it air dry naturally.”

Lee concurs: “I would suggest trimming bangs on dry hair that’s styled the way you anticipate to wear them, because wet hair tends to jump up once dried. You won’t have an accurate portrayal of how short the length will be if you trim on wet hair.”

OK, we’re ready. Now what?

  1. First, find your bangs,” says Brager. “Using a comb, create a triangle by tracing a line from the corner of your outer brow to the top of your part, on both sides. (Note that the further you extend back on the top of your head, the thicker the bangs will be.) This creates the triangle shape. Then, comb your bangs down and use clips to move the rest of your hair [out of the way].” The most important thing to remember during this step is to stick to the type of bangs you already have. If you’re starting with wispy side bangs, aim to end with slightly shorter wispy side bangs, not brand new baby bangs.
  2. It’s time to cut. “Now section your bangs horizontally,” says Brager. “Start with the first small layer. This becomes your guide. (Clip the rest of bangs back for now.) Take the middle section between your eyebrows and use a comb to brush through your fringe, following [the comb] with two fingers. Hold tension with those two fingers, pulling sections towards the tip of your nose.” Think you’ve pulled down enough? Pull down a tad more. “You can always take more off, but you can’t put bangs back on, so start slow,” warns Brager. “Grab your scissors and begin cutting. Cut horizontally for blunt bangs or, if you feel comfortable, instead of cutting straight across, cut diagonally by facing your shears up towards the corner of your forehead, making small snips. Doing this technique makes the bangs look lived in and lightens the ends.”
  3. You did it! Now finish off the rest of your fringe. “Pick up the right side section and add it to the middle section,” says Brager. “You will see a noticeable corner from your first middle section cut—this is now your guide. Brush through the section with a comb and follow with your fingers again. Pull down with a bit of tension towards the tip of the nose. Begin your next cut. Perfect this section and move to the left side and repeat these steps. Now that you have your guide, depending on how thick your bangs are, take one or two sections and complete the same steps. Middle snip, right snip, left snip.”
  4. Now just clean things up. “For a piece-y finish, pull your first top layer up and back towards the crown of your head,” says Brager. “Some hair will fall out, and that’s okay. Once you see a clear triangle, cut those tiny tips off. Only cut the very ends! This technique lightens the bangs a little, but you don’t want to cut too much or you’d create a [separate] layer. Take your right section, cut into it and then do your left section. Remove the clips [holding back the rest of your hair] and spritz with Herbal Essences Hemp Seed Oil & Aloe Hair Mist Oil for instant shine. SUCCESS! You just trimmed your own bangs. A bang trim is a game-changer!”

Does this method apply to curly hair, too? 

If you’re going for curly bangs, “be sure to cut the curls individually,” says Lee. “Sculpt out individual curls downwards, and wet hair (just a little!) to start, so that you can bring out the curl. Then cut individual curls a little longer than your desired bang and allow them to dry. If they’re still too long, then you can go back in and trim them once they’ve dried.” Lee notes that the tighter the wave pattern, the longer you should leave your bangs. “Once you cut 4B or 4C curl type, the hair will jump up, so what initially appears to be long bangs can end up being quite short.”

Any final words of advice?

“Don’t hold the bangs up and away from your face [when you’re trimming],” says Brager. You’ll be tempted to, because you’ll want to see where you’re cutting. But don’t do it. This will create layers within your bangs (*shudder*). As intimidating as it may be, “the goal is to cut your bangs as close to your face as possible.” You got this!