Curtain bangs were undeniably the biggest hair trend of 2020 (maybe aside from grown-out roots). Granted, there weren’t many other trends to compete with, but when a parade of celebs hop on board and the heroine of a prestige drama wears them all season long, it seals the deal. Even without the pop-star endorsement, the vintage-inspired, face-framing fringe is about as tempting as it gets when it comes to a low-risk chop.
While the trend is so popular because it’s easy to pull off, they’re still bangs, and the thought of chopping a chunk into your hair can be daunting. However, if you want to get in on the Jane Birkin fantasy, there’s a way to fake the fridge, no scissors required—and no, it’s not with clip-ons either. As it turns out, all it takes to get the shaggy bangs of your dreams are a few strategic styling tricks.
If you want to try curtain bangs before committing to a chop or are still uneasy about heading into the salon, we’ve got you covered. Read on for how to fake curtain bangs on straight, wavy, and curly hair.
How to fake curtain bangs on straight hair
As this video from Joseph Maine, celebrity hairstylist and cofounder of Trademark Beauty, shows, faking curtain bangs on straight hair is way easier than you might think, all it takes is the flick of a curling iron and some hairspray.
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First he says to start by sectioning out your “bangs” area. It might be your first instinct to part your hair down the center and grab each side to curl, but Maine recommends forming a triangle with your part. The tip of the triangle should be about 1.5″ back from your hairline, where you’d normally center-part your hair. From there, you want to part each side diagonally down toward your forehead (see the photo below for an example of what it should look like). This way it looks more natural and blended and has more of a bang feel—otherwise, you’ll end up with tendrils.
Once you have your sections, take a one-inch iron (Maine uses the Harry Josh Pro Tools 3-in-1 Ceramic Curling Iron in 1.25 Inch) to create a face-framing curve. “Curl each section away from your face, starting pretty close to the root,” says Maine. “You want the real coil of the bend to land right at your brow.”
Here’s where the curls go from face-framing to “Whoa, did you get bangs?” Maine says to comb each section away from your face while pinching the part at your hairline, bringing the two sections together. “While you have them pinched, spritz with hairspray and use a flat, creaseless clip to hold the pinch in place,” he says. “Then mold the length of the fringe to follow along your brow and down your temples.”
Give them another spray, and then add a creaseless clip on each side by your temples. Keep the clips in for about five minutes to help keep the shape, and then you’re good to go.
How to fake curtain bangs on wavy hair
Waves are a great base for getting a bang effect, since it’s all about using texture to manipulate the length of your hair. “The key is to create the illusion of a length difference from the center to the sides, which is the hallmark of all curtain bangs,” says Amy Abramite, creative director and stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago.
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“On wavy hair, a curling iron will do the trick,” says Abramite. “It will create root volume and lift the center of the ‘bang’ upward for that swooped-out effect. The soft waves will imitate a curtain bang in the right targeted spot.”
Start by sectioning out your “bang” area by using the same technique as above, and part it down the center. Then, starting at the root, curl the first few inches of hair away from your face, leaving the midlengths to be natural. This is key, as the contrast is what creates the bang effect. “A curtain bang has a downward sweeping angle from a middle part that creates a retro, ’70s vibe,” says Abramite. “The shortest part of the bang is in the center and gradually gets longer as it descends toward the cheekbones.”
Finish the look by brushing them out so they don’t look too “done,” then pinch the center together to get the face-framing effect.
How to fake curtain bangs on curly hair
With curly and coiled hair, it’s less about using texture to create an illusion and all about manipulating your length to fake bangs. “The base of your curls will lift up higher, so the lengths will spring up on your forehead, making the sides appear longer by your cheeks,” says Abramite. “Using a diffuser will keep your natural texture intact for continuity throughout the style.”
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To start, apply a volumizing mousse at the roots of your “bangs” only. “Using a blow-dryer and diffuser, lift the roots with your fingers to pop up your curls at the base,” says Abramite. “Refrain from touching the midlengths and ends to prevent curls from frizzing.” To finish, pull out a few select curls to cover your forehead, and pinch the center or your “bangs” together to close any gaps.
If you don’t want to use heat, Maine suggests pulling back all your hair but that same triangular section in front. “Take a few bobby pins and start pinning the middle of each section toward the side,” he says. “Then push the pin from the hairline backward until the coil shortens to your desired length. Move outward from there, creating the curtain shape by shortening the coils in the middle and allowing them to get slightly longer as you move to the edges.”