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curtain bangs
Adobe/AP Images. Design: Cierra Miller/STYLECASTER.

Blame it on The Flight Attendant. Or the proliferance of overgrown, quarantine hairstyles. Whatever the reason, curtain bangs are having a moment in 2021 that just won’t seem to let up. Though the style reflects a laid-back vibe of quintessential cool girls like Brigitte Bardot, Jane Birkin and Rhianna, landing on a natural-looking “C” shape takes a little expertise. So, we set out to find out how to style curtain bangs for those 2021 trendy hairstyles. To do so, we enlisted three celebrity stylists to share their best hacks for any hair type.

Just think of celebs including Sabrina Carpenter, Ashley Benson and Ariana Grande all adopting the look as of late. Frankly, we can see why. “These flattering layers are a great way to change up your look without the commitment of full-on bangs,” says Clayton Hawkins, the celebrity stylist whose clients include Elizabeth Olsen, Maddie Ziegler and Dove Cameron. “The look works so well because it looks chic whether your hair is down or up in a ponytail or bun.” Below, expert tips to get the look.

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The Basics: Dry Bangs First

If starting with wet hair, Hawkins and David Lopez, T3’s lead stylist who works with celebrities like Ashley Graham and Hailey Bieber, recommend blow-drying bangs ahead of the rest of your hair. “People often start in the back when they blow-dry their hair and by the time they get to the front, their fringe is already dried and frizzy,” notes Hawkins.

Lopez suggests using the blow dryer’s concentrator attachment to better direct airflow for precise styling. “I push the bangs back and forth, side to side as they dry in order to create a loose and flowy parting of the hair,” he says. We like the T3 Cura Luxe Hair Dryer ($285 at Ulta).

The Basics: Curl Under

Hawkins can’t stress this enough: When styling curtain bangs with a round brush, always wrap and roll hair down toward the floor with hair clinging to brush’s upper bristles. “It’s tempting to want to brush them going upward to keep them out of your face, but this will result in a flippy Farrah Fawcett vibe,” he says. “Instead blow dry them downward for a chic, ‘70s French girl moment.”

Lopez cosigns on this technique, saying it also helps to keep elbows close to the chest when blow drying hair in this direction. “Once your hair is dry, you push it back to create a nice curtain swoop,” he suggests. Try using the Raincry Magnesium Volumizing Brush ($65 at Amazon

The Basics: Set Your Shape

After drying, set your ideal bang “C” shape by pinching a triangular section of hair at the hairline (about two finger widths from your part) and pinning it with creaseless clips such as Conpru 12 pieces No Bend Hair Clips ($5.59 at Amazon
). Next, create a swooping “C” shape with the sectioned hair and clip the ends. After the hair has set for a few minutes, release the clips for a defined shape that will last through one of Cassie’s (of The Flight Attendant) messy nights. 

If you don’t have creaseless clips handy, try securing bangs with a velcro roller while styling the rest of your hair. “Not only will this keep them out of the way, but the roller will give the hair bounce and lift that will last all day,” says Hawkins. Try Goody Self-Holding Multipack Rollers ($10.99 at Target).

Extra Credit: Curly Bangs

For those with 2C to 4C hair types looking to wear curtain bangs in their natural texture, Hawkins suggests detangling hair in the shower, then adding your favorite curl defining cream to hair once out of the stall (no brushing or combing required). “This will allow the bangs to dry naturally without disrupting their curl pattern,” he says.

Sierra Kener, a stylist who specialises in curly hair at LA’s Nine Zero One salon and who has styled the likes of Selena Gomez and Katy Perry, offers another option. Apply a gel or moisturizing styling cream into the hair before flipping it upside down. Next, diffuse the hair with a blow dryer to release some of the moisture. “You want to dry the hair about 80 percent,” she says. Next apply more gel or cream to the hair while twisting, scrunching or otherwise forming the curl pattern. This will add definition while retaining volume.

But if you want to blow them dry straight, Hawkins has tips. “If your hair is curly to coily, avoid using a straightener on your curtain bangs,” says Hawkins. “This will result in a 2000s MySpace look [rather than something more modern].” The stylist suggests blowing bangs out with a round brush, then using a hot root comb to smooth out the roots once dry. Once that’s done, use a 1.5 inch curling iron, such as the Conair Double Ceramic 1.5-Inch Curling Iron ($17.99 at Amazon
), to curl bangs under with the wand rolling toward your body.

Extra Credit: Ultra-Straight Bangs

Straight hair styled in curtain bangs can get a little greasy as the day wears on, so Hawkins recommends keeping a dry shampoo and brush handy for instant touch ups. “Instead of spraying the dry shampoo directly to your scalp, spray it onto the brush and then brush through your fringe. This will allow the product’s starches and powders to better distribute for the best results,” he says. Try Ouai Super Dry Shampoo ($24 at Ulta).

Extra Credit: Cowlicks

Don’t let a strong cowlick get in the way of your own banged-like-J.Lo moment. Lopez says it’s easier to control the final shape of the bangs by styling a damp cowlick before the rest of the hair. “This will save you the headache of having to try and manipulate the shape too much,” he says. If the hair has already started to dry and hold its cowlick shape, try re-hydrating the section with water or a nutriative styling mist such as In Common Magic Myst Universal Elixir ($35 at In Common).

Extra Credit: Hiding Curtain Bangs

Sometimes, you just want your hair out of your face. For those times, Kener has you covered: “Curtain bangs are all the rage, but if you’re not feeling up to wearing them for the day, part your hair the way you want it to lay, then blow dry with the cuticle facing down,” he says. “This will marry the bangs and the rest of your hair together so it blends more seamlessly.” To further encourage your bangs to continue laying as directed, try spraying a bit of hairspray on a comb or brush, then brushing it through the hair. Goodbye bangs—until next time.

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