The Bangs Roundtable

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Much like braids, bangs aren't just a hairstyle you had at some point; they're a conversation. Bangs-havers, former bangs-havers, bangs-wanna-havers... Everyone's got something to say. As a person who's spent a large percentage of her life wearing bangs in some capacity, I have a lot of thoughts on the look. So do my colleagues. So I gathered a handful of them in a conference room for a hearty discussion. Some of us had bangs by choice. Some of us had bangs by accident. Some of us were considering future bangs. Some said never again. Here is everything that was said—all of it. I'm guessing you all have your own stories too, which I look forward to reading in the comment section.

—Anna Stevenett

Tori Stringfellow, Paid Social Manager: I really wanted bangs when I was a kid. Luckily I got a headband stuck in my hair and rather than ask my mom for help, I cut it out in the front. Nobody noticed for a few days until my mom was washing my hair, and locks of my hair were falling out. So we went and had real bangs cut, and they were just this huge poofy mess on my forehead. And then because I didn't know how to grow them out properly, every time I'd get a haircut I'd just cut them back in. So I had them for like, five years. Bangs were the worst look I've ever done, because I have very textured hair, so they're hard to control.

Anna Stevenett: Were there at least times when you ever liked it?

Tori: No. I mean, I was very excited to have them at first. Like, I went to school and was like, 'Oh my God, I have bangs!' And then...no.

Kelly Wilbur, Associate Product Development Manager: I imagine growing them out curly is a lot more difficult. I have straight hair, but when I've grown my bangs out, I often used a flat iron to make them lay well.

Lynley Flanagan, Senior People Operations Manager: I used to have bangs—I don't blow dry my hair or anything because it's so thick and it takes too long, so while it's drying, I would just put weird things on my bangs to make them sit right. Like a hat, or clips.

Jordan Verrilli, gTEAM Manager: I have a bangs story.

Anna: What is your bangs story?

Jordan: In November of last year, I was blowing out a candle, and the left side of my hair caught on fire. And it burned all the way across my forehead.

Collective: [Gasps]

Jordan: Yeah, it was really not fun. Basically, I thought I put it out [the flame], but I didn't put it out, and genuinely half of the side of my hair fell off.

Kelly: I don't even remember your hair looking weird.

Jordan: It did. I have very coarse, African American hair, and I was like, 'Not bangs, not for you.' And so when I burnt my hair off, I went to Spoke & Weal and I was like, 'Just don't make me look like Joan Jett. That's all I want.' I mean, there's only so much you can do. But they cut me real bangs, which are growing out now.

Kelly: How did you keep them back? How did you keep it from being greasy?

Jordan: I'm pretty good at braiding. So I would do a crown braid. I would split my hair and then literally start at the crown very small so I could get those baby hairs, and then crown braid it out, and fold the bangs into the braids. Especially if I didn't want to straighten my hair all the time, which I don't. But now they're fine! I took a lot of Viviscal, and then I did castor oil.

Anna: So your solution was essentially hiding them? You never wore them as bangs?

Jordan: If I straightened my hair, I wore them as bangs. But they were a little funky. If I straightened my hair and it dried wrong, I have to just come home and flat iron the shit out of them.

Anna: Do you use product?

Jordan: I use a styling gel. And I really like the dry conditioner from Dry Bar, because I think it adds oil without anything crazy heavy. So I would just spray it, and then shove all the oil into my bangs to try to get them to stay down.

Tori: How, like, thick is your layer of bangs?

Jordan: Eh, pretty thick. They go all the way back to the top of my head.

Kelly: They're the best because I never noticed. I'm just impressed that you kept it out of the limelight for so long.

Jordan: Thank you.

Anna: I guess that's a How To Grow Out Your Bangs With Texture kind of story.

Tori: Yeah, it's really hard. I was gonna get bangs again, but it was just really hard, and a lot of just slicking it straight back, or using something really heavy.

Anna: So, Tori, you would never have bangs again?

Tori: Well, I think if I were ever to do a straightening treatment on my hair I would consider it, because I do kind of like the aesthetic of things, but given my hair texture—especially because my hair is curlier towards the front—I would never do it like that.

Anna: Can you think of someone who has textured hair whose bangs you like?

Jordan: Yes, Elaine Welteroth. Her hair looks good, but I think that the amount of volume that it takes requires too much energy for me, and like, I'm someone who pulls her hair back naturally.

Anna: It's more work day to day.

Colleen Kelsey, Copywriter: I had bangs probably from the time I was seven until I was 22. I had like, the childhood bob with bangs, and high school was all about the side bang. And then I had sort of like a heavy, front-facing bang for a couple of years after that. I have really thick wavy hair, and it takes a lot of maintenance. I just got so lazy. I was like, "Why did I think this was a good idea?" And then at some point, I don't know—I was like, "I feel like this is a look that's not for me anymore." So I just finally grew them out, and it took forever.

Amy Kandora, Product Development Intern: I did a horrible thing to my bangs when I was growing them out. I thought it was really cute if I pinned them back and up on either side.

Jordan: Like Legolas style?

Amy: Yes. My senior photo in high school you see me with the bobby pins sticking out everywhere. It was a mess!

Kelly: It was a cute look for a hot sec, though.

Anna: I think I like it.

Amy: It ruined my prom pictures—it will haunt me until the day I die.

Jordan: I will say that's the biggest change [since the bangs happened]—I keep bobby pins in every corner of my home now. It's crazy.

Lynley: I always feel like any time I've grown bangs out, in the moment I think it looks a lot better than it actually does, and when I look back at photos of when I had like, side bangs when I was growing out front ones or something, I'm like, 'Oh, this looked really weird. Not a good moment.'

Anna: Right now I haven't decided if I should grow my bangs out or not. So I just haven't touched them. They look so shaggy all the time, but I don't want to go trim them at all if they're growing...

Kelly: It looks deliberate though, I like it.

Lynley: When you grow them out, you get stuck in a trap where they hit this moment where they do look really good, and you're like, 'I love bangs!' And then you get them trimmed again, and the cycle repeats.

Kelly: Right. They look good for one day, and I'm like, 'This is me now.'

Anna: When I first get them cut, along with the rest of my hair, it all looks good for like a week. And then it's all lost. It's too hard to keep up! If my hair looked like that—easily—every day, absolutely I would keep my bangs.

Lynley: I think the best thing bangs end up doing for you is that it just resets the front of your hair. It gives your hair a fresh start.

Kelly: Also, it gave me the courage to grow out my eyebrows. Because my bangs were a little longer before, and I had the spermiest brows, you don't even know. I mean, I have pictures, my friends still make fun of me, they were so like sperms. So bad. So I had to grow them out, and I tried not to touch them for like, two years. So when I got bangs, all of a sudden I realized, 'Oh my God, I'm not so self-conscious about my eyebrows because nobody can see them.'

Amy: Or forehead acne. I had bad hormonal acne on my forehead, so I think that was one of the major factors. I was like, 'I just want a curtain over them.'

Anna: Wait so Lynley, you've had bangs?

Lynley: I've had all of the types of bangs. I had bangs when I was in kindergarten—big, round-brush bangs that my mom would tease the top of, too, so it was lots of layers. I looked like JonBenét Ramsey. Like a pageant queen, which at the time I think was really cute. But I look back on it and I'm like, 'This was a lot.' I would cut bangs all the time growing up. I've had really thick, heavy, fringe-y bangs, baby bangs, side bangs...the side bangs never worked for me, I don't know why I did that.

Anna: Me either. I remember parting my hair way around the side, and my bangs were like this weird swoop all the way across.

Colleen: I feel like that was a moment, though. It was a look, and then everyone went away from it.

Lynley: The last time I had bangs, I swore to myself when I was growing them out that I would never, ever, ever do this again. Because it's fine for a minute, and then it's not, and the growing out is super annoying. But I think about it all the time.

Tori: I was gonna say, where do you weigh on it now?

Lynley: I've been thinking about it, but I'm not gonna do it. Because I told myself not to do it!

Amy: Whenever I see really cute pictures of someone with bangs and I tell my friend, 'I think I want to get bangs again,' she has a failsafe. She shows me my worst picture with bangs. And I'm like, 'No, never mind.' But in my head I always picture it as like, wispy, French.

Colleen: That's the idea, but it never really matches.

Lynley: It's hard to find someone that cuts your bangs the way that's best for your bangs. I feel like a lot of hairstylists cut bangs the way they like to cut them-like maybe it's thin and wispy, or like something else, and it doesn't work for your hair.

Anna: Yeah, I feel like my hairstylist does a good job, but sometimes I can't see. My hair's really straight, so it's always in my face.

Kelly: But I do think that that works for you.

Anna: Sure, I like how it looks but it's also annoying. It's not comfortable.

Lynley: You know what? That's a really important thing to talk about with bangs. They're kind of annoying!

Anna: You definitely need like, a go-to solution for pinning them up that doesn't look like shit, you know? You can't just bobby pin your bangs.

Jordan: Unless you're me.

Colleen: If you're like, seriously working, or working out or something, you need to find a solution.

Kelly: Oh, the gym is a whole different mess. Like, hot yoga-could you even imagine not putting your bangs back?

Lynley: Bangs make it more complicated to do things—even if you're gonna go swimming. Or if you're at the beach or something. I grew up in California, and I was always like, 'What am I gonna do with my bangs when I get out of the pool?'

Tori: That's the other thing about having bangs with curly hair. If the professional does not know how to handle curly hair, they'll like, wet it, and assume the length is gonna be one thing and they'll just cut them off. And then your hair is drying and it goes into...

Jordan: Oh, it's insane. I can't.

Kelly: A weave is a great way to experience things, though, without the commitment.

Tori: I'm definitely curious, because I still really do like the aesthetic of bangs.

Colleen: I think it's hard because you're always tempted, and then you commit to it and you're like, "Why did I do this." At least in my experience.

Amy: I've slowly been cutting up my front pieces, little by little, just to test the waters and see.

Tori: Wait, Colleen, would you do bangs again? You said that had them for a very long time.

Colleen: I'm considering it. I think maybe having a happy medium would be good. I don't have layers right now, but like, if I were to get layers cut into my hair, having maybe a cheekbone-skimming, or chin-skimming thing would be a happy medium.

Lynley: The last time I went to get my hair cut, I was like, "I would like the front of my hair to be like I grew out my bangs." And I really liked how they turned out.

Anna: And if you can tuck them, then it's a win-win.

Lynley: It's not really bangs.

Anna: I would argue that they're technically bangs.

Kelly: I would also say that they're technically bangs. Because they frame your face, and they're shorter than the rest of your hair.

Jordan: But I think the difference is that bangs are like, blunt.

Anna: Not necessarily!

Jordan: The difference between the length of the bang and then the length of the next closest hair has to be significant.

Tori: I definitely cut my hair into short-ish layers, where it barely tucked behind my ears, and it definitely wasn't bangs. It was just face-frame-y layers.

Kelly: I don't know, I feel like that's a debate.

Lynley: What are "bangs?"

Jordan: There's a gradient in my head. Layers are just not bangs.

Anna: I just think a bang would be anything that's cut towards the front of your hair, and that reframes your face a little.

Kelly: But that's an interesting point, because at what point does the face frame become the bang?

Collective: Wow.

Lynley: This doesn't make me want to get bangs.

Anna: No one likes bangs. At the same time like, you look at Louise Follain, and her bangs are always in her eyes, and they always look good.

Lynley: They always look fabulous!

Anna: But also I can tell that she's probably uncomfortable.

Kelly: I feel like you just have to own it.

Lynley: You just have to lean into it. I had bangs like that, though, and it drove me crazy.

Anna: In high school mine were so thick, because I would do them myself, and I cut them a little bit at first and then I just kept adding on and adding on. They literally came way back to the crown of my head. They were so heavy.

Amy: What's a good forehead size for bangs? Is that a factor?

Anna: Tall foreheads.

Colleen: I think it's a factor. I think also how deep they cut the bangs in is also a factor.

Anna: You don't have to have as tall a forehead if you cut them up higher. But yeah, I have a huge forehead and that's why they seem to work, I guess. Also I have a weird hairline so I appreciate that they cover my hairline.

Kelly: I read an article that was like, "When you have bangs, the only thing you need to do to your hair is your bangs, and you still look chic." So like, your hair can be kind of messy and weird, but as long as your bangs look tight, then it's a look. I don't know if that worked on me, or if it works on everyone, but I read it somewhere!

Anna: Well. Bangs. I think maybe we've got it.

Photo via Getty.