With celebrities leading the charge, 2012 just might be the year of the bang. It seems everyone who's anyone is getting snipped — but the haircut is fraught with peril.
NEW YORK — In recent days, Ginnifer Goodwin has showed off bangs as short as mowed grass; Jessica Biel had fringe so thick and long she looked like one of the Beatles; and Marion Cotillard had a tuft on her forehead seemingly styled by a weed whacker.
For centuries, tastemakers of all kinds — Cleopatra, Louise Brooks, members of the band Poison — have used bangs to make unspoken style statements. A recent article on Vogue magazine’s website titled “The Rooney Mara Effect” described how the actress’s microfringe in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” inspired similar looks on runways in New York, London and Milan.
At the same time, softer, classic Gidget bangs are also back, popularized by a new generation of television’s leading ladies, like Lea Michele and Zooey Deschanel.
Celebrity gossip magazines are already calling 2012 the year of the bang, with Beyoncé, Rachel McAdams, Ivanka Trump and Nicole Kidman among the converts. It seems everyone who’s anyone is getting snipped. But the look is fraught with peril.
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“Superthick bangs look great, and everyone wants them right now,” said stylist Alan Tosler, of the Tosler Davis salon in New York. “But if you have a cowlick in your hairline, they will not work. Or if you’ve got a superlow hairline.”
Johnny Lavoy, a hair stylist for L’Oreal Paris, agreed.
“If you have a low hairline already, you don’t want to do bangs,” he said. “You’re going to get lost, like Teresa Giudice from ‘The Real Housewives of New Jersey.’ “
Bangs tend to look best on people with high foreheads, he explained, because they make the hairline appear lower. They’re also “a great alternative to Botox,” he added.
After all, bangs can “help correct a problem,” Lavoy said, by camouflaging a thinning hairline or making a narrow face seem wider.
But only if done right.
“Nothing looks worse right now than those skimpy little bangs,” Tosler said. “It looks like you broke it off or something. If you’re going to do them, do them thick and chunky.”
And the length has to be just so. The sweet spot, Tosler said, is what he calls the dimple of the nose: the slightly indented area between the eyebrows.
Another pitfall: curly hair.
“If you wear your hair naturally curly, I’m not a big fan of bangs,” Lavoy said. “They have a tendency to shrink up and create this odd shape. There’s nothing worse than someone with a full head of curl and these straight bangs. It just looks ridiculous.”
Even if your mane has the requisite swing, stylists still recommend using face shape as a guide. An oval face can handle almost any sort of bang. Round faces are said to look better with longer, sideswept bangs. Square faces might also benefit from sideswept bangs, with a slight part instead of a curtain of hair straight across the forehead. On long faces, a softer, lengthy fringe is typically most flattering.
And those with heart-shaped faces are encouraged to embrace their inner fashion editor with bold, heavy bangs or, as Lavoy reverentially calls them, “Anna Wintour bangs.”