How to Style Your Bangs During the South's Humid Summers
Ladies of the fringe sisterhood, assemble!
To illustrate how long I have had bangs, let me spin you a short yarn of my latest trip to the post office. In an effort to renew my passport, I brought the one issued to me when I was freshly four-years-old. I handed it to the woman helping with my paperwork, and after looking at it, then back at me, she said, “Honey, we don’t even need to take a new picture! You still got the same haircut and everything!” It’s true. In addition to still having a childlike face, for better or worse, I have had bangs ever since my hair grew out of its baby mullet origin. Sure, I went through phases and stages in high school and college where I pinned them back to achieve a more Margot Tenenbaum look or pushed them into the side swoop popular in the early oughts, but for all of my 29 years on this planet, bangs have been one of the few constants. Needless to say, keeping my bangs from looking like devil horns or a discarded Home Depot shag carpet sample for so many days of my life here in the land of oppressive humidity, has taught me a thing or two. Here's what I'll pass along to you:
1. Don’t cut corners
Seriously. The more deliberate and literal your fringe frame, the more ways the weather can destroy it. After a brief affair with blunt bangs, I now wholeheartedly favor the Francoise Hardy-ish, ‘70s inspired cut (s/o to the bangs whisperer Helen Walker at Wheelhouse Salon in Birmingham, Alabama), which leaves more room for improvisation and makes any involuntary curling look intentional.
2. Product is not the enemy
While you may have heard the old proverb that product will just weigh your fringe down and turn it greasy, the opposite is true. A smidgen of R+Co.’s Park Avenue Blowout Balm (seriously magical) or Oribe’s Fiber Groom (thinned out with a few drops of water) will not only deflect dirt, it will also give your style another fighting chance against humidity and frizz. For extra jungle-like days, layer on a coat of hairspray. My picks: R+Co.’s Vicious Hairspray or Verb’s Strong Hairspray.
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3. Free your forehead
In fact, the culprit behind dirty-looking bangs is more likely moisturizer applied to your forehead. How do you remedy this issue? First, leave your forehead free or moisturizer, fancy face oil, or anything else even subtly sticky during the day. Of course, use a gel-like SPF, but save your anti-aging/hydration process for the nighttime routine.
4. Roll it back
Sometimes no matter how many precautions you’ve taken, a bad bang day is bound to happen. Having experimented in many different places, from a minimally air conditioned Airbnb in New Orleans to a McDonald's restroom in Douglasville, Georgia, I've found two ways to course correct errant strands.
First, if you have access to a round brush and a hair dryer, take your bangs section by section and wrap them around the brush so the ends are facing up rather than down. Then hit them with the dryer as you roll the brush like you would otherwise. It seems counter-intuitive, but this will make them lay flat again.
If you only have a few minutes in an airport or public restroom setting before you need to be seen by other humans whose opinion matters to you, wash your bangs in the sink (I’ve done this with the soap dispenser or a travel size bottle of shampoo). Then, take your wet hair under the hand dryer (Xlerator models work best at this.), and brush your bangs back and forth from side to side with a brush (or use your fingers) until they’re dry. They may not turn out perfect, but it’s a quick fix for full-on fringe disasters.
5. Don’t fuss
Make like a kindergartener singing in the backseat of a minivan and let it go. There comes a time (also known as August in the South) when you should concentrate on living your best life instead of what contorted shapes your bangs are creating against your will. Walk confidently and no one will know the difference.