Bangs are one hairstyle that's guaranteed to spark up conversation. And the journey to perfect bangs is a long, winding one, full of regret, DIY trims gone bad, and styling mishaps along the way.
After a ton of trial and error, you'll eventually land on a routine that suits your hair type and texture. But, with the right tips you can shortcut your way to the bangs of your dreams, whether they're blunt bangs, curtain bangs, curly bangs, and every style in-between.
With the help of Mark Townsend, celebrity hairstylist and Dove brand ambassador, we have your complete guidebook on the general rules of thumb to follow when styling bangs. And since Townsend is the stylist who cuts Dakota Johnson's perfectly soft, choppy bangs, you can also consider his tips as your guide on how to make your bangs look even better.
1. Know Your Face Shape
Above all else, it's important to know your face shape before bringing your stylist any reference photos for the style of bangs you want. Not only will you have realistic expectations, but you'll also end up with a more personalized look.
"I tell clients to draw a circle or square, and the idea is to turn that shape into an oval by shading in wherever you need to in order to create that oval," says Townsend. The shading is what the bangs will look like on your face, so it gives you a general idea of what style of bangs will look best on you."
"If you have a very long face or a heart-shaped face, you shade out the upper two arches to create more of an oval," he continues. "If you have a square-shaped face, then you fill in the four corners with bangs and face-framing layers. I always do that first because a lot of times people think they have the wrong face shape."
You can also check out InStyle's extensive guide, too.
2. Consider Your Lifestyle
Before getting bangs, ask yourself if you're willing to spend time styling them every day. "If you have curly hair and you want a curtain bang you can have that look, it’s just going to take you 15 to 20 minutes to blow dry them every morning," says Townsend.
3. Cut Your Bangs Dry
If you've never been completely happy what your bangs look like when leaving the salon, ask yourself: Did your stylist cut your your bangs dry? Which is a method the Townsend fully supports.
"Wet hair stretches so much more than when it's dry," he explains. "When it's really wet, you don't have any leeway if you have any cowlicks, and they can look uneven when dry." He likes to blow dry bangs completely in the way he wants them styled before cutting them.
4. Get Regular Bang Trims
Yes, it's true: bangs do seem to grow faster than the rest of your hair. "Hair grows an average of a quarter of an inch a month and that’s quite a bit when you talk about your forehead," says Townsend.
This is why regular bang trims are a must. Luckily, many salons offer complimentary trims in-between haircuts. Depending on the style of bangs you have and your hair type, you'll most likely have to get them trimmed every two to three weeks. The easiest way to stay on top of your trims? Schedule your next one before you leave the salon.
5. Proper Dry Technique Is Important
With all hair types and textures embracing bangs, it's tough to generalize a styling technique. However, when you blow dry them, Townsend says a good rule of thumb is blow-drying bangs in the direction you want them to go, starting with hair that's completely wet.
"I hold the blow dryer directly above the bangs and blow dry them forward and straight down," Townsend explains. "Afterwards, I take a round brush to ends to open them up a little bit." Another method is to brush bangs left to right like a windshield wiper with a paddle brush as you dry them to keep them from getting flat. Townsend is a fan of Harry Josh's Wooden Paddle Brush.
If you have curly hair, Townsend suggests blow-drying your bangs with a diffuser to set your curl pattern or wave.
6. Use a Mascara Wand on Cowlicks
For anyone who has a major, stubborn cowlick, Townsend's hack involves running a mascara wand over the piece of hair as you blow dry it. "I take a reusable mascara wand on really wet hair, and use it to pull the bangs straight to get them in the right direction." he says.
VIDEO: These Are the Best Bangs for Every Face Shape
7. Dry Shampoo is Your Best Friend
Along with oils from your hands getting on your bangs when you touch them, wearing moisturizer and sunscreen can also cause greasiness. That's why dry shampoo is your best friend.
"I use dry shampoo over hairspray because hairspray sticks the hairs together. Whereas dry shampoo helps keep them separated in a good way," he says.
There's a lot of different dry shampoo options out there, the easiest methods are to use a dry shampoo wipe like Dove's Care Between Washes Go Active Dry Shampoo Wipes or brushing your bangs with a flat brush that's been spritzed with dry shampoo.
"I love dry shampoo, but for it to give you the best results, you have to hold the can a good 10 to 12 inches away from your scalp," says Townsend. "When you do that, you're going to spray your entire face. That's why I recommend dry shampoo wipes for touch ups throughout the day."
8. Shampoo Just Your Bangs
Second or third day texture is great for getting styles like braids, ponytails, and waves to hold, but your bangs might not survive that long without getting washed. If that's the case, simply only shampoo your bangs.