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How To Bang

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The Violet Files

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The Streicher sisters—hairstylist Ashley, makeup maven Jenn, and brow artist Kristie—offer their expertise on nailing the fringe look.

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The Streicher Sisters
the streicher sisters


Two out of three of us currently sport them, so it’s safe to say the Streichers have bangs on the brain. Like Audrey Hepburn, Audrey Tatou, and Jane Birkin, we find the fringe effect simply irresistible. And what’s not to love? Bangs can, by turns, conceal a large forehead, cover up brow mishaps, and take years off virtually any face. And say what you will, but we contend that the style flatters (almost) everyone. Provided, that is, you follow a few simple guidelines. Below, our three discrete takes on how to do bangs, Streicher style.



cutting bangs

To bang or not to bang? My answer is most always “Do it!” Many women think they can’t pull off bangs because they have a wonky hairline or a funny cowlick, but anyone can have them—all that’s required is a little hair training. With cowlicks, for example, you simply need to wash or wet your hair and brush and blow-dry your bangs against the wave. You may have to repeat the exercise every day, but it will work. It’s also important to remember that you have options: Jane Birkin may be my bang icon, but there are many other styles besides her straight-across prototype. Bangs can be long and sideswept, short and piece-y, or medium and feathered—and it’s all good. But since it’s hard to avoid choosing favorites, right now I’m into reverse-V bangs (meaning they’re slightly shorter in the middle and longer toward the sides), which are best worn with a one-length, just-below-the-shoulder haircut.

Deciding on length and shape depends on your hair texture (curly, straight, flat, frizzy), the shape of your face, and—of course—the rest of your cut. It’s tough to generalize, but longer sideswept bangs tend to flatter rounder face shapes, while standard straight-across bangs that hit around the eyebrow help soften longer faces and large foreheads. Long, straight Jane Birkin hair begs for a straight-across, Birkin-like bang, while for a pixie cut I recommend bangs that flow into the rest of the short ’do—a choppy, messy style usually works best.

Let’s get one thing straight: Trimming your own bangs is a bad idea, especially if you have any structure to your haircut. But if you just can’t help yourself, use really sharp eyebrow scissors. The small size will force you to go slow and take tiny snips. I use a fine-toothed comb (this one from Y.S. Park is great) to divide the hair into three sections—the middle and two sides. Start cutting from the center: Hold the comb facing up and take a little bit of hair in the teeth, angling the hair down and holding it as close to the face as possible. Cut with an upward motion and

Snip the middle section bit by bit until you achieve the desired length, then repeat the process on each of the sides. Don’t take big bites with the scissors—patience pays off here. Afterward, you can use a powder brush—or, my favorite, a makeup sponge—to sweep all the hairs off your face.

If you wake up looking like Billy Ray Cyrus (I do—often) use a water bottle to spray bangs at the roots. Comb them forward, then either let them air-dry or hit them quickly with a blow dryer. If you’re getting a gap in your bangs and too much forehead is showing, it probably means your hair is a little too clean or way too dirty (read: oily). A dry texture spray like Sachajuan’s Volume Powder that gives a little grit at the root should fix the first scenario; a spritz of dry shampoo like Klorane (or a good old-fashioned wash if you have time) might help with the latter. I don’t recommend using cream- or oil-based styling products in your bangs, as they end up making your forehead greasy. My personal secret weapon is a switchblade comb that I got in Japan—I throw it in my bag and comb my bangs every so often throughout the day to keep them smooth.



jenn streicher

I’ve had bangs of all different lengths and styles (the first almost up to my hairline), but one of my all-time favorite references is Audrey Tatou in Amélie. That look is just so endearing. As a makeup artist, I love nothing more than changing things up, whether hair, makeup, or otherwise. And when it comes to hair, bangs are the quickest (and least risky) way to effect a total transformation. You don’t have to lose all your length or do anything crazy. They’re like a great pair of shoes—they look good on everybody and they make women look younger. I’ve noticed that in my older clients who haven’t had Botox, bangs are instant anti-agers.

With shorter bangs, you really want to make sure your eyebrows are on point, since they will be front and center (see more on this from Kristie, below). I love using the Hourglass pencils to fill them in—Soft and Dark Brunette are go-tos in my kit. I learned how to shape them from the best: Brush down, brush up, outline them a little on the bottom and then pencil the rest in. For the red carpet, sometimes I’ll use a little bit of eyeshadow the color of the brows instead of a powder; I apply it with Bobbi Brown’s boar bristle eyebrow brush. A word of caution, though: I love a strong brow and a bold eye, but wearing them together can be a bit much for every day. Pick one focus and run with it.

My own bangs are super short and blunt, and I love the way they bring attention to my eyes, so when I’m doing makeup I love to play up that area. It can be as simple as just layering on a lot of mascara— I use L’Oreal Carbon. Using black liner on the lower waterline always gives a quick pop, and I also love doing something smudgy around the lid with Charlotte Tilbury’s eyeshadow pencils (I’m especially into the bronze colors) or Laura Mercier’s in Cocoa (a really pretty color without any shimmer). A nice liquid liner can be good too—I love the Auto-Graphique one from Troy Surratt.

The main skincare challenge that comes with bangs is the greasy forehead. The secret to preventing it? Make sure your fringe is never oily. Dry shampoo is a must. Be cautious about the products you use in your hair—I find styling wax makes my forehead extra greasy. Blotting tissues from Tatcha are your friend, so always keep some in your bag for midday touch-ups. And if you want to absorb and prevent, bring a powder compact wherever you go. I’m especially into the Surratt loose powder compact right now. It comes with a puff, which offers extra absorbency, and you can wash it when you get home. Just run it under warm water with a little dish detergent to break down oil, scrub it with your fingers, and leave it out to air-dry.




A lot of my work is dedicated to what I call Eyebrow Training (formerly known as Eyebrow Rehab), where I coach overplucked and otherwise abused brows back into their fullest, lushest form. I tell clients emphatically to avoid going near tweezers or brow scissors between visits—every hair counts. This is a long undertaking (it may take up to a year!) that can be difficult for some women, since unwanted stragglers will inevitably show up during the growing-out process. Bangs can act like a beautiful curtain to hide the mess. Then, when your brows are perfect, it’s time for a bang trim and the big reveal...

While your brows and hair should be close in color, what’s important is matching the eyebrow pencil to the eyebrow hair—not the hair on your head. If your brows are a rich, ashy brown (no warm or gold tones), like most blondes and brunettes, make sure the pencil you choose isn’t too light or warm. (I use the Brunette and Raven tones from Surratt on most of my clients.) Many people instinctively go for a lighter filler to match the hair on their head, which is a mistake—it can look very unnatural. If your brows are naturally thin, make sure they are shaped properly and span the entire brow bone, using a pencil that’s low in wax and oil to fill in both the end (the inside part by the bridge of the nose) and the tail (the outer edge). A big mistake women make is penciling one portion of the brow and forgetting about the rest—dream brows should be equally strong and dark all the way across.

Like Ashley says, a comb is your bangs’ best friend. And in my department, a brush is your brows’ best friend. Brushing them regularly helps exfoliate and get rid of dead, flaky skin under the hair, and also adds definition. I prefer the round spoolie-type brushes (I recommend MAC’s #204 version), as I find the bristles to be just the right length and softness. Brush brows in the direction of hair growth, stroking gently to avoid irritating the area or pulling hairs out.

For me, Audrey Hepburn had the ultimate brow-and-bang pairing. She had such a cute, small face, and then this bold brow and strong short bang. The contrast really gives her character. Anyone can get the Audrey look with a short-ish bang crop and a dark powder (use a brow brush to blend back and forth in the direction of and against hair growth) or pencil and a pomade (use the latter to set it and add a healthy sheen), but I think it looks best on women with delicate features.