How to style curtain bangs - Recommendations on the bangs style in 2021
Goldie Hawn is in the iconic curtain bangs (Photo: Oprah Magazine)

What are curtain bangs?

First made famous in the ‘60s and ‘70s by actresses like Brigette Bardot, Goldie Hawn, and Farrah Fawcett, curtain bangs—as the name suggests—are parted down the middle (or, sometimes, to the left or right) and swept to each side, so they perfectly frame your face and eyes, much like a curtain does with a window. “They’re super sultry, because you can be flirty and coquettish with them,” says New York City-based stylist Juan Carlos Maciques. “You can sort of hide behind them, but people can still see your eyes.”

While curtain bangs—which are a softer take on traditional, straight-across fringe—can vary in length, they’re typically shorter in the center (think: between the middle and bottom of the eyebrow) and longer on the sides, with wispy ends that blend into the rest of your hair. But if it’s your first time making the cut, though, you may want to go a bit longer, says Los Angeles-based hairstylist Aviva Perara. That way you’ll also have the option to pull them back into a ponytail or tuck them behind your ears, according to Oprahmag.

Can anyone pull off curtain bangs?

Curtain bangs, for the uninitiated, are those shaggy, effortless bangs that—as the name suggests—frame your face perfectly, much like a curtain does with a window. The look has roots in the ’60s and ’70s (think Jane Birkin), but today's take on it works with a range of styles and textures: messy waves, curly shags, sleek blowouts, high ponytails, you name it.

"Curtain bangs are the gateway to bangs, because they're super versatile," says Emily Heser, stylist at Cutler Salon in New York City. "They're long enough to grow out or pin back if you want, but they can also be cut into a shorter look." The style has steadily become both a celebrity and Insta-girl fave for its easy-going vibe, reports Glamour.

There's a reason curtain bangs became so popular

They’re cut in a way that blends into the rest of your hair, so curtain bangs are a perfect middle ground (i.e. you can have bangs some days and no bangs other days)—which is super appealing, whether you want to test out a more manageable fringe before committing to something shorter or you want to shake up your style without doing something as dramatic as, say, micro bangs. Plus, you don’t have to worry about running to the salon every couple of weeks for regular trims. “You can basically forget about maintenance if you want to let them grow,” says Maciques. “Over time, they’ll just become face-framing layers.”

But there might also be another, more surprising reason behind the rise of curtain bangs. Like most things in 2020, Emily Heser, a stylist at NYC’s Cutler Salon, believes it may also have to do with the coronavirus pandemic. “I’ve seen a huge jump in requests for bangs,” she says. “Which I think has to do with the desire to feel like you have some style even while your face is covered with a mask. Not to mention that I’ve had people tell me they’re more inclined to take a risk this year since they aren’t seeing a lot of people and don’t have many plans.”

How do you style curtain bangs?

As for styling them, Fitzsimmons likes to use a big round brush on damp hair to give it a nice blowout. (We love using a round brush like the T3 Volume Round Brush). He says you want a voluminous look with minimal frizz so adding a leave-in conditioner before drying will also do the trick. After that, you can pretty much do whatever you want.

“The signature of the curtain bangs is that middle part. Beyond that, you can rock them with just about any style,” he says. “They look great when your hair is down or for half-up, half-down styles. For updos, they look great when you pull some of the hair just behind the bangs down to create that face-framing effect.”

Styling curtain bangs is pretty simple. First, part your hair down the middle. Then blow-dry your bangs away from your face, wrapped around a round brush. Twist the brush through your bangs all the way at the end so it feathers out and then style the rest of your hair however you please, according to Hellogiggles.

Some recommendations on the bangs style in 2021

1. Natural Curtain Bangs + Hair Down

How to style curtain bangs - Recommendations on the bangs style in 2021
Photo: Hairstylecamp.com

Curtain bangs are one of the most natural and versatile fringe styles. Styling curtain bangs is easy. Simply wash and dry your hair, parting it down the middle. You can use a styling product that will give a natural look, such as a lightweight mousse. If your regular part is not in the center, just use your blowdryer to dry your bangs to each side. Additionally, you can smooth your fringe down with flat irons, if it’s playing difficult. Give your hair a gentle tousle, and you’re good to go, and looking effortlessly chic.

2. Curtain Bangs + Ponytail

How to style curtain bangs - Recommendations on the bangs style in 2021
Photo: Pinterest

Create a sweet but sexy look by styling your curtain bangs with a perky ponytail. This is an excellent style for day two or three hair when you can use some dry shampoo for added texture. You can do this with straightened hair or curl it first — either will work. Rake your hair back into a high pony with your fingers, and secure it with a hair tie. Separate the bangs and brush them out, parting in the center, smoothing them down with a flat iron if you need to. Gently loosen sections of hair from the hair tie. To make your ponytail perkier, you can loop a hairpin through the top of the elastic and tuck it down into the base of the ponytail to pull it up. Alternatively, add volume by securing a small butterfly into the mid-section of the pony, close to the elastic.

3. Straight Fringe + Side Buns

How to style curtain bangs - Recommendations on the bangs style in 2021
Photo: Hair Adviser

Throwback to the ‘90s by styling a straight fringe with side buns. Also called space buns, the formidable Princess Leia inspires this cute hairdo. Start by breaking out your flat iron to straighten your hair. Then, split your hair in two, from your forehead to the nape of your neck. Pull both sides up into high pigtails, securing with a hair tie. Twist, then wrap the hair around the hair tie on each side, to create the buns, and hold them in place with a couple of hairpins. Feel free to make this look more casual by pulling a few strands out. Finally, if you need to, run your flat iron through your bangs again, to get it smooth. Pair this look with a leather choker for the ultimate Gwen Stefani/No Doubt vibes.

4. Side-Swept Bangs + Hair Clip

How to style curtain bangs - Recommendations on the bangs style in 2021
Photo: Elle.com

Add a bit of bling to your bangs with a gorgeous hair clip. Side-swept bangs are perfect for this elegant look, and styling couldn’t be easier. This look is best done with freshly washed hair. Once it’s clean but still damp, add a heat protector as well as smoothing serum or mousse, and part your hair down the side. Blowdry your hair straight, but add a little volume to the side with the majority of hair. Depending on the texture of your hair, if blowdrying doesn’t get your hair smooth enough, you can also straighten it with your flat iron. Then, simply sweep your fringe across your forehead and secure with your chosen hair clip tucked in by your ear.

5. Face-Framing Fringe + Ponytail

How to style curtain bangs - Recommendations on the bangs style in 2021
Photo: latest-hairstyles.com

Effortless but classy, a face-framing fringe with a ponytail is a stylish, everyday look. To get the best results, chat with your hairstylist about what length and shape of fringe will suit your face the most. To style this look, it works best with textured hair and loose waves. Try curling your hair with your flat iron, rather than a wand, to get a less structured wave. Then, add some texture with a sea salt spray or dry shampoo. Tie your hair in a low ponytail, just above the nape of your neck. Create a more relaxed look by pulling a few sections looser from the ponytail. If you want additional volume, gently back-comb the mid-section of the ponytail. Finish by wrapping a small segment of hair around the hair tie to hide it, suggests thetrendspotter.

Curtain bangs are relatively low-maintenance.

The truth is, all bangs—including curtain bangs—require some extra effort. “There is truly no such thing as a low-maintenance bang,” says Perara. “Anyone who says that is lying.” But that said, curtain bangs may be easier to style than other types of bangs—and that’s especially true during the cooler fall and winter months. “Bangs are a lot easier to manage when there’s no humidity, because they aren’t as likely to get sweaty or frizzy,” says Heser. “So for any client trying bangs for the first time, I usually recommend they wait until fall.", cites oprahmag.

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