Alanna Arrington’s gorgeous curly bangs are a definite do. (Photo: Getty Images)
If bangs are inherently a high-risk hairstyle move, they are doubly so for women with natural curls. You could be aiming for Rihanna and wind up with “Livin’ on a Prayer”-era Jon Bon Jovi. When up-and-coming model Alanna Arrington began wearing the style during fall 2016 runway shows in New York and Paris, however, she was definitely channeling early ’80s sexpot, not late ’80s mall queen. To see how this look might be translated from high fashion to wearable trend, Yahoo Beauty spoke to curly stylist Ricky Pennisi.
“I’m an advocate of bangs, no bangs; of changing things up all the time,” Pennisi, the creator of RI CI products, said. He added that this style is not for the timid because, “Once you do it, you’re in.”
This kind of commitment is what might keep some curly-haired women away from the style. “I don’t know if I would ever cut [bangs], because I’m a commitment-phobe,” Jonna Scott-Blake, the editor of Naturally-Glam.com, told Yahoo Beauty. Though she has used hairpins to create faux bangs, she said she’s afraid to do any drastic cutting. “I just know that once I’m tired of the cut, I have to grow it back, and that’s the torturous part,” she explained.
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If you’re willing to try it out, make sure you take the plunge with a stylist who understands your curls.
“The key to dealing with curly bangs [is] you do want to stay on the heavier side, because you have a lot more control with it,” Pennisi explained. “You don’t want to go with a very fine, subtle bang, because it kind of gets lost with curly hair, and there’s more of a chance of you not being able to control it, and you not being able to deal with frizz.”
Beyonce makes this cool-girl look seem effortless. (Photo: Getty Images)
Length is another important matter, and you need to take into account how much your hair may curl up. Pennisi advises you start with a cut that gives you a length somewhere between the tip and the bridge of your nose when your hair is wet. “Let it curl up, then you keep rewetting it and going in stages,” he said. “You’re going to get to a point where there’s no forgiveness. Usually it’s around right below the eyebrows. That can either look gorgeous, or it can spring up on you and you can look like a real meathead.”
Pennisi said that the ’80s “mall hair” hairdo is easily avoided with a good cut. “You want to make sure the bangs are blending in with the sides. You don’t want to just cut a massive bang and drop into nothing. [You need] some kind of softening, a little bit of a transition, and you want to make sure the stylist blends in the sides so you’re not going to have these meaty dog ears.”
Beyonce pulls off this cool girl look with seeming ease. (Getty Images)
Bangs that are the ideal length to wear curly will surely be too long to wear straight, so if you like to switch styles, you might have to sweep the bangs to the side or pin them back. A couple of women we spoke to are used to having the opposite problem — having cut bangs to wear with their hair straightened.
Thaïs Cuffy, who blogs about her hair and more at CurlonaMission.com, said she has never intentionally cut her bangs for curly styling, though she has a gorgeously bouncy fringe in her site’s profile pic. “The curly bangs you see in the picture were actually grown out, blunt-cut bangs from a straight hairstyle I had been wearing,” she said in an email to Yahoo Beauty. But after seeing model Arrington’s current runway style, she said she might consider it. “Alanna’s curl pattern is very similar to mine! She looks great, but curly bangs are so tricky. They can either be great or fall flat, depending on the weather (and the mood of the hair). And on off-days, it’s harder to slick them back in a ponytail or bun.”
Pennisi said curly bangs can actually be a low-maintenance look, because they can last for a few days without needing to be washed.
Alanna working her curls on the runway. (Photo: Getty Images)
“When you’re styling it, you want to make sure you apply a little bit of product, and when you’re blow-drying it, you don’t want to dry it too long,” he explained. “The best [method] is letting it air dry. You’re not diffusing them or scrunching them; you’re just kind of using your fingers at the root. Massage that, and lift and open them up.”
Gabrielle, a sales rep and mother from Florida, has always straightened her hair to wear bangs. She was initially skeptical that the curly style worn by Beyoncé and some fashion models would work with her lifestyle. “Seeing them in person persuaded me much more than the pictures of stars, because I saw that you don’t need a stylist for them to look good.”
Pennisi suggested using RI CI Thirsty Styling Gel, and then “refreshing” the look with leave-in conditioner (actually, his Drench Conditioner, diluted with 50 percent water and applied with a spray bottle), or Memory Setting Spray on following days.
“You want bangs to move; you don’t want them to be stuck in one spot,” he said. “It’s got to look so inviting that people want to touch it, but nobody’s allowed to touch curly hair.”