Bangs giveth, and bangs taketh away. Let’s be specific: Bangs giveth when the weather is nestled somewhere in the cozy milieu between 28 and 75 degrees and also not raining, snowing or hailing, there’s zero-percent humidity/smog/floating Halal truck molecules and absolutely no hair-disturbing wind stronger than a mild breeze. This is a phenomenon that, in New York City, occurs for roughly one second sometime in mid-May and then again in October.
For most of the year having bangs—which at their best, can frame a person’s face in a really lovely, transformative and unique way—means living with sweaty death all over your grease-spouting forehead. And in midsummer, it’s worse. There is no escape. Only more cowlicks.
Until now! We spoke to a few experts on the subject, who gave us some really great tips on how to deal with your would-be flattering hairstyle when it’s so hot out that you’re actually considering a dip in the Gowanus. (Do not do this. There is mysterious brown goo in there.)
Here’s what they had to say:
First, invest in a good cut.
Even if you’ve already resigned yourself to cutting your own hair in a silent personal protest against absurd salon costs and also because you didn’t think anyone would notice and completely overestimated your scissor skills (I did this for a year, it was Not A Good Look), it’s worth the zero-to-twenty-bucks-plus-tip for a professional bang trim every six weeks—and perhaps even more often in the summertime.”You need regular trims to keep them tame,” says Kristina Dimplon of Hello Beautiful Salon in Williamsburg. “The thicker the bangs, the better!” adds Paige Wishart of Self Salon. “It helps prevent piecey-ness to cut them starting further back.”
The best cuts can even prevent those awful cowlicks brought on by sweat and humidity. “This tip is for the incredibly thick-haired people who are more daring with their cuts: Get an undercut right in the front. I literally got my cowlick shaved out, and it cut my styling time in half, and my bangs are still insanely thick!” says Kat Russo, a colorist at Self Salon Bushwick. Should you be the type with the ability to pull off aggressively short bangs a la Rooney Mara or Audrey Tautou, Chantal Sava, owner of Tomahawk Salon, recommends you get creative: “I love super short and sexy bangs. I’m talking way above the eyebrows—think Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice. They can be kept straight across or like jagged ‘chainsaw bangs.'”
Blow dry like a pro.
Half the battle of bangs is getting them to actually cooperate when it matters most, that is, as they’re drying. It’s also the reason why summer bangs are the most difficult—you’re constantly going from wet, sweaty forehead syndrome to laying out at the beach, where your bangs’ drying procedure is basically surrendered unto your choice of divine being. Therefore, using a blow dryer in the summer is an unfortunate necessity. Post up under the AC, put a fan in front of your face, sit on an ice pack or whatever it is that you need to do to not transform into a swamp monster and turn up the heat.
“Blow dry in the direction that you wear your bangs in,” Dimplon suggests. “Super simple trick that has made my life a lot easier: blow-dry your bangs with a fine-tooth comb instead of a brush. Blow-dry the bangs to one side and then the other and keep switching,” says Russo, adding, “To get your bangs to lie nice and smooth, after you’ve styled them with a comb and they are completely dry, heat the bangs with the blow dryer and then hold your hand over the hot hair until it cools. It helps the style last.”
Befriend powder-based products.
Dry shampoo is one of those things you don’t think you’ll need until you desperately need it. “Dry shampoo will keep them from getting piece-y and will also absorb any excess sweat and keep your bangs looking fresh,” explains Dimplon. “Teasing at the base, then gently combing over the surface will help absorb excess oil and keep them all together. Use volume powder before backcombing,” says Wishart. And for those who are easily intimidated by products, heed the wise words of professionals: “Shake Sachajuan Volume Powder and spray it on the root of your bangs, clean or dirty, and then mist it over the top. It helps protect your hair from humidity and stops it from frizzing up,” says Russo. “Tomahawk recommends Redken Dry Shampoo,” adds Savaresse. And for what it’s worth, Brooklyn Magazine editors are huge fans of the locally made SkinnySkinny.
Splurge on a fancy treatment.
For the most unruly of bangs (or the most lazy of gals) Brazilian blowouts and keratin treatments offer a multi-month solution in just one salon visit: “Bangs getting too curly or cowlicks are unbearable. We offer Brazilian blowout keratin treatments just for bangs, $35 to $50, which last three to four months. It’ll give you perfectly smooth bangs,” says Savaresse of Tomahawk Salon. Dimplon of Hello Beautiful agrees: “(It’s) the most effective way to keep your hair tame during the humid summer months in NYC.”
If all else fails, just say “fuck it.”
Stylists are in agreement: the bangs equivalent to saying “fuck this” is to pretend like you don’t have them. “Flatirons and products will not work well to keep your hair straight all day,” says Chinatsu Ohtsu, a stylist at Self Salon, “When I can’t deal with my bangs, I hide them in a braid.” Dimplon adds: “On those days where you just don’t feel like it, opt for a cute side braid or twist!”
Because no one can sport a full set of bangs 365 days a year. That would be insane.
Follow Rebecca Jennings on Twitter @rebexxxxa.