If you have bangs, you know firsthand how important it is to keep them at their optimum length—half an inch too long and you’re a lost member of the Ramones, half an inch too short and you’re stuck looking like a surprised bird until they grow out. So how best to maintain them? Even if your stylist offers complimentary fringe-trims, going to the salon every other week is a serious time commitment. And if you don’t know what you’re doing, trying to cut them at home can have jagged, crooked results.
Until now. After ten years of DIY fringe maintenance, we here at StyleCaster have developed the ultimate way to maintain our bangs—and we’re breaking it down for you. Here’s how to trim your own bangs and not wind up looking like you’ve hacked at your fringe with a box cutter out of frustration.
Step #1. Spray your bangs with water and blow them out so that they’re straight and about three-quarters dry. Never cut soaking wet hair, and Never cut dry hair; both make it hard to accurately gauge length.
Bonus tip: Set aside at least half an hour to cut your bangs. Don’t try to trim them when you’re running late, when you’ve been drinking (hey, we’ve all been there) or when you’re stressed. Bangs are like horses: they can sense fear.
Step #2. Using bobby pins or alligator clips, clip back the lengths of your hair at the sides. This will help you make sure that your fringe is perfectly shaped at the scalp, and also so that there is zero chance of you cutting some accidental face-framing layers.
Step #3. Take a long piece of clear plastic tape and gently stick it to your bangs; this will be your guideline. The tape can go straight across (if you have a blunt fringe) or at an angle (if that’s the style you’re rocking), with the bottom edge of the tape denoting where you’re going to cut. Don’t do like the parent in this vintage tape ad and cut above the tape; that is a recipe for an unfortunate hair look. Remember to be more conservative with your tape guideline at first; you can easily go back and trim your hair shorter if you need to, but you can’t make it longer again.
Bonus tip: If your hair is very fine or damaged and you’re worried about the tape yanking your strands, stick it to your arm first, then peel it off. The tape will still stay, but it won’t be AS sticky—and your hair will remain healthy and unpulled.
Bonus tip #2: After ten years spent maintaining our bangs this way, we’ve found that the frosted office tape is the best to use for hair trimming purposes—the completely clear stuff is very sticky and pulls. Packing tape is definitely out. Duct tape, no damn way.
Step #5. Using a pair of hairdressing shears—not half-blunt office supply scissors you brought home from your last job—you’re now going to trim your hair. If you want blunt bangs, hold a 1″ section of hair taut between your first two fingers, start at the outside corner and snip in, slowly pulling the scissors back as you close them. This will help to pull the hair straight as you cut. If you want wispier bangs, hold the scissors horizontally and cut up and in to your hair, pulling them down as you close the blades. This will give you feathery ends.
Step #6. Continue cutting until your reach the other side. Remove the tape and dry your bangs all the way. How are they looking? If they need a little fine-tuning, dampen them again, replace the tape and trim until you’re happy. But remember: go slowly and carefully.
Step #7. You now have perfectly trimmed bangs! And if you’ve made them a touch too short, don’t worry—the good thing about bangs is that they grow quickly. In a week, any minor mistakes will have grown out.