There are plenty of things I typically think are best left to the experts: Perfectly baked bread, furniture assembly, and haircuts, to name a few. Since I began social distancing in March, however, all of my preconceived notions about what I can and can’t do myself have been thrown out the window. I baked my own bread (to various degrees of success), I built a new dresser (it only took me seven hours!) and recently, I decided to try cutting my own bangs.
Spending more time in my apartment also seems to correlate with spending more time inadvertently seeing my reflection in the mirror, and I was absolutely sick of looking at my overgrown haircut. I started wondering if it was possible to cut my own hair at home. When I first presented this idea to my friends and family, they acted as if I’d gone insane. “Bangs” seemed crazy enough to them, but “cutting my own bangs,” seemed absolutely unhinged.
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I have super thick, long hair that looks weighed down and lifeless unless I have tons of layers. After a few months without a haircut, I was already starting to see that effect. My hair typically dries wavy, but with my grown-in locks, it was starting to dry straight. I needed to find a way to put some life into it ASAP. After drooling over photos of mussed-up curtain bangs for months, I knew I wanted to give them a whirl.
Curtain bangs are parted down the middle, and they are typically longer and more feathered, giving them an undone, messy feel. (Think Bridget Bardot in the ’70s.) Determined to give myself the curtain bangs of my dreams, I powered forward. I did the research, I gathered the supplies, and I got in touch with celebrity stylist Frédéric Fekkai, who not only endorsed my bang-cutting idea, but also volunteered to walk me through the process over a video call.
With Fekkai on my team, I felt confident that I could come out on the other end with flawless bangs. If not, it’s not like I’m doing anything besides baking bread, anyway. Read on for a step-by-step breakdown of how to cut your own bangs at home.
1. Gather your supplies.
If you’re really serious about cutting your own bangs, you need to invest in a pair of shears — the scissors you have lying around aren’t sharp enough, and you’ll end up with a jagged cut. You’ll also need a comb so that you can part your hair precisely (I used a rat-tail comb for extra precision, but a fine-tooth comb is fine). You’ll want to have a hair brush on hand, a hair tie, a curling wand, and heat protectant.
2. Start dry.
You know how in a salon, they’ll often cut your hair when it’s wet? Yeah, you don’t want to do that. Hair shrinks as it drys, so if you cut wet hair and think it’s the perfect length, you might actually end up wearing hats until it grows out. Leave a wet cut to the professionals.
3. Cut longer layers around your whole head.
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Cutting layers through your hair will allow your new bangs to blend in. “Take your hair from the highest point of the eyebrow and comb to the back of the crown,” instructs Fekkai. “When you feel your occipital bone, lift your hair in a high ponytail.” In case you’re confused by what an occipital bone is (as I was), it’s just where you feel a bump at the back of your head. Secure this ponytail with an elastic. From there, grab the ponytail from the very end and twist it tightly in a clockwise direction.
Hold the ponytail at the very end, and “cut just above your fingers.” Since the hair is twisted, you can cut straight across without creating any harsh lines.
4. Frame your face.
Put the ponytail behind you so that it’s out of the way. Take the pieces of hair that remain framing your face and twist them toward your face (do this on both sides). Cut an inch off of each end, making sure they’re symmetrical.
5. Layer the sides.
With your hair still in a ponytail, “take the whole section from the side, and you’re going to make a part from the top to the back of your ears,” says Fekkai. Twist the hair toward your face, and take about an inch off of the ends. Repeat for both sides.
6. Take your hair out of the ponytail to complete the layering process.
Take the ponytail out and brush your hair out so that it lays as it would normally. (Marvel at the fact that your layers actually look good.) Measure about an inch back from the hairline and part your hair all the way down the side of your face from there. Twist this hair toward your face and cut between an inch and a half to two inches off; repeat on both sides.
This technique keeps your cut soft, adding dimension and allowing your bangs to blend seamlessly into the rest of your hair.
7. Section off bangs into an inverted V.
The big moment. “You’re going to create an upside down V that will come to the corner of your eyebrow,” says Fekkai. Pull that hair straight up, then twist it forward. Make sure to twist it tightly to create tension, just like with the layered sections. Cut the hair right at the level of your lips (or shorter, if that’s what you desire!).
8. Cut the bangs at an angle.
Comb your fingers through your bangs and allow them to fall at either side of your part. “With the scissors, you’re going to go from the cheekbone, at an angle down,” instructs Fekkai. He recommends using the shears like a razor here—so instead of using them to cut like scissors, you’ll just use the sharp edge of one side. You can go shorter or longer, depending on your individual bang-length preferences. Do this on both sides, and even out as needed.
9. Style into loose waves.
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To style, take one inch pieces of hair and curl the ends, making sure that you’re going away from the face. Do this on both sides to create (seemingly) effortless waves.
The final product
While I was afraid that I might end up with bangs à la Courteney Cox in Scream 3, my hair actually looks better than it has in months. I’ve had my fair share of botched trims, so the idea of cutting my own hair and messing it up was scary to me. I’d been so nervous about chopping my own bangs that I woke up before my alarm the day of (which is impressive, considering I have snoozed my alarm until the last possible minute every other day since I started working from home). After actually cutting my own bangs and following Fekkai’s instructions, however, I found it to be surprisingly easy. I may actually do it again.
While I would have much preferred Fekkai working his magic on my hair in person (and using his own hands), this is the next best thing. Try following along with Fekkai’s instructions for your own DIY bangs, and remember the sage advice that my family friend told me beforehand — a bad haircut really only lasts for two weeks until you get used to it.
More tips for cutting bangs at home
Obviously, bangs aren’t one size fits all — while I opted for curtain bangs, you might be leaning toward blunt bangs, or your hair texture might lend itself better to curly bangs. Bangs should be a choose your own adventure activity! You can tailor Fekkai’s advice to the bangs you want, but here are some more videos that may aid you in your journey.
How to trim bangs between hair cuts
How to cut curly bangs at home
Curly bangs are typically cut longer so that hair won’t shrink up your forehead as it curls.
How to cut wispy bangs at home
Wispy bangs are fine, barely-there bangs that have tons of feathering at the ends. They’re softer than other bang varieties.
How to cut blunt bangs at home
Blunt bangs are probably what comes to mind when you think of traditional bangs. They’re cut straight across your forehead, and don’t have any layers.
How to cut arched bangs at home
Arched bangs are a lot like blunt bangs, only instead of being cut straight across the forehead, they’re cut (you guessed it) in a delicate arch shape.
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