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Soul-Searching Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Get Bangs

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Photos: Driely S. for Racked
Photos: Driely S. for Racked

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Now's the time of year when your mild seasonal affective disorder begins to coalesce with your extreme hair boredom—it's freezing outside, you're so over last year's lob, and your forehead suddenly feels completely naked, creating one giant question mark that demands, "Should I get bangs, though?"

Hold up a hot second. The decision to get bangs is not one to make in the throes of a mid-winter slump. It's one that takes some of us months—years, even—to prepare for. To properly honor such a monumental, attitude-altering choice, we grilled bangs whisperer Amy Schiappa, owner of Fringe Salon (which just opened its second outpost in Gowanus) on every possible bangs-related question we could think of, from the crucial ("But what if I have a three-head?") to the frivolous ("Will I suddenly dress cooler if I get bangs?") Think of her as your spirit guide as you seek the answer to the eternal, unknowable question: "Seriously, though, bangs or nah?"

Okay, first thing's first: Which celebrities should I put on my bangs-pirational Pinterest board?
When debating whether or not to get bangs, the Pinterest board is a safe place to start. "Our clients are often designers, and so they do a ton of research and want to take a lot of risks," Amy says. For classic shapes done well, look to notable bangs-havers Alexa Chung, Kate Moss (she had excellent sixties girl-rocker bangs in the late aughts), and reigning bangs queen Zooey Deschanel. "My clients and I both have the same tastes," she explains. "A lot of people coming in with pictures of these girls."

Zooey Deschanel, really?
Yes, really. "Everyone's so embarrassed to ask for Zooey Deschanel's bangs," Amy laughs, "But it's like, why? Her bangs are amazing." Should you enter a salon sheepishly clutching a New Girl promo photo, fear not! You will be spared the side-eye and likely leave far more adorable than when you entered.

Photo: Driely S. for Racked

How can I tell if a celebrity's bangs will look good on me?
This, friend, is a question secretly filled with a million other questions. According to Amy, there's no single bang shape that's universally flattering, so other qualifications must be met. First, you've got to have the right kind of hair—cowlicks, she warns, are especially important to be wary of. "You can't just put a bang on someone without thinking about texture and cowlicks," she says. Beyond that, there are a million other considerations that vary from person to person: "Some people don't like their eyebrows, and some people only like one eyebrow."

Is my hair stylist secretly laughing at me for requesting bangs if she knows I'll look terrible with them?
No, but she might gently talk you out of them: "When people say they aren't willing to blow dry their hair, or if they have curly hair, I usually try to steer them towards getting longer pieces that they can tuck behind their ears." That is, unless your stylist can tell you're going for a look that's more "anti-pretty," in which case, do your thing.

Does it matter if I'm a blonde, a ginger or a brunette?
Nope. "Unless someone's hair is so blonde that it's transparent, it doesn't matter," she says. "In that case, I'd just create a heavier bang so that it doesn't look wispy."

What looks better with bangs: a three-head or a five-head?
If you're well-endowed forehead-wise, you're in luck! "Bangs work so well on very high foreheads," says Amy. "They're far back enough that it gives the bangs an awesome shape." Three-heads, though, be warned: "When you don't have enough forehead to show, I wouldn't suggest a full bang, but sometimes a small, quirky bang could work"— think Rooney Mara in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Okay, let's say I theoretically decide to get bangs. How do I make sure they don't become too greasy, curly, or wispy?
Aside from getting regular trims, smoothing lotions (she recommends Relaxed by Fringe and Friends or End Doctor by Evo) are a good way to keep them smooth without using a heavyweight product. Though if you find that your bangs keep flying away in the wind, you may need to use a texture spray or Magic Move—just be sure not to use both at the same time. As for greasiness, a bangs-haver's best friend is always dry shampoo—Amy likes Alder New York's iteration, which comes in delightful smells like lavender or bergamot.

Am I supposed to blow-dry my bangs with a round brush?
The bangs community is staunchly divided when it comes to round brushes vs. flat brushes, though Amy takes the latter position: "I feel like round-brushing your bangs, whether you're talented or not, sometimes gives you this bump, and you look like you're trying too hard. You don't want them to look fixed." Instead, she recommends using a flat brush and brushing back and forth, from side to side. Her pick: a Mason Pearson.

It's winter, and I like to rock a lot of hats. What's the best way to avoid getting terrible hat hair?
There's actually an easy way to make winter hats work to your advantage: "Lately, I've been combing my hair in place and then just putting a wool cap over them—that way, they stay completely flat." After putting on your hat, plan to spend a few more minutes in front of the mirror styling the rest of your hair around the hat's shape. "It's really good for that smooth-on-top, wavy-on-bottom look," she adds.

What am I supposed to do with them when I'm working out?
"This is the hardest question," Amy says. "Us New Yorkers want to look good all the time, but we just don't have the time to." When working out, you've basically got two options: Either pin them to the side to avoid creating a sweaty, curly mess on your forehead, or "I sometimes wash only my bangs after a workout, if I don't have the time to blow dry all my hair."

I know I'm not supposed to, but what if I just have to trim my own bangs? Any tips?
"All of our clients are pretty creative, and left to their own devices, they've been known to cut their own hair," Amy laughs. "The biggest key is knowing when to stop. Other than that, definitely do point-cutting." Since most non-professionals don't own texturizing shears, which is often what you'll get when a trained stylist trims your bangs, don't attempt to cut straight across. Instead, point the scissors up towards the ceiling—and trim carefully.

How do I stay ahead of the curve with my hair? What's the next big bang trend?
If 2014 was the year of the curtain-esque lob, then 2015 might be about softening up the severity: "I don't think there's really a trend," Amy says, "but I feel like what happened was that we were doing all these lobs and bobs last year, and now everyone's asking for more shape around their face. It's all about breaking up the long bob into a little bit more of a softer texture."

I got a trendy lob last year, and now Lauren Conrad has one. How do I make my hair look less basic?
This is a question that Amy herself has personal experience dealing with: "It's so 'Normal Girl,'" she sighs. "But whether the answer is bangs or not is all up to the person. You start to feel a little weighed down, and there becomes something that the haircut needs."

Let's be honest, are side-bangs just a total cop-out?
According to Amy, not necessarily. It just depends how you style them: "You could have a mod side bang, or a short side bang, similar to Amélie." In short, as long as you rock a side bang with the same styling and strength as a full bang, it can make just as much of a statement. One super-easy trick: "I have a client that parts her hair so far on one side that it gives her side bang a total edge."

Will I suddenly dress cooler if I get bangs?
"Bangs make you feel like you have a whole new wardrobe," Amy says. "They make you feel edgy, so maybe, for instance, you'll rock a different boot because you already feel a little cooler." So, in a sense, kind of!

Ugh, is this just going to be like, a ton of work though?
The short answer: yes. Amy doesn't recommend anyone getting bangs who isn't willing to use a blow dryer and visit the salon every six weeks or so for a trim.

Oh my god, I got bangs and I hate them so much. How long will they take to grow out, and what can I do about them in the meantime?
Bangs will usually take between four months to be able to be pinned entirely to one side, while it'll take six months for you to be able to tuck them behind your ears. In the meantime, Amy recommends playing around with the part of your hair so that the bangs take a different role in shaping your face.

But seriously, though: Should I get bangs or is this like the time I convinced myself I needed a flower tattoo on my wrist because I was young and naive and profoundly bored and felt like I was losing control over my life?
When it comes down to it, there are just a few bullet points to consider. First, have you had bangs before? "If a client has hated them in the past, I want to know what they didn't like and why. It could have been the haircut, but it also could have just been the hair. I read between the lines, so to speak," Amy says. And ultimately, your stylist will have an opinion—it's just a matter of getting her to express it. "I generally know whether or not they'll look good on someone, but I'll try to figure out something regardless. I walk them through it and weigh the pros and cons, and sometimes we agree that it'll just be too much of an effort on their part."

Isn't this just hair, after all? Aren't there like, other things going on in the world?
Correct. Get bangs, or don't. You might love them, you might hate them, but either way, ten years from now you will look back on your Instagram photos from "that time you got bangs" and laugh at all the time you spend thinking about getting bangs, then not getting them, then getting them, loving them for a minute, then immediately regretting them. In short, you might as well book an appointment now, and start heading down the long, fraught road to bang-dom.