The Hulu series Normal People is a devastatingly beautiful, unbearably emotional, and deeply sexy look into the lives and love shared between two teenagers as they grow into adulthood. Honestly, who would have thought a show about two sad Irish teenagers would be the thing that gets us through this new quarantine life?
However, I’m pretty sure that most of us would be lying if we claimed that we didn’t see Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and her perfect bangs, and briefly, just briefly think about going to find some suitable hair-cutting scissors to get the look ourselves.
Taking the plunge into bangs life is scary, though, and it’s even more so when you can’t physically visit a professional hairstylist so they can assess and cut the bangs for you themselves. We’ve all heard the horror stories (and seen the pictures, and videos) from a DIY bang cut—it’s a risk that might not be worth taking until quarantine restrictions lift and hair salons are allowed to reopen.
That said, if you don’t want to wait, we’re here to help. Also, you can at least take solace in the fact that if you do mess up while cutting them, no one is likely to see your slightly botched haircut for a while thanks to stay at home orders. With the right technique, bangs can look amazing—you just have to be really careful while you cut them.
To get that technique down straight, I spoke with London-based hairstylist Martha Mackintosh about the best way to cut your own bangs without completely messing up your hair—as well as the most common mistakes people make, so you can be sure to avoid them yourself.
According to Mackintosh, the most important things to pay attention to are how you’re sectioning your hair and the direction you’re cutting it in.
For sectioning, she explains, “The most important thing to remember when cutting your fringe is to not take it too wide. Use the middle of your eyebrow as your furthest point.” Part the sections of your hair with a tail comb, and be sure you don’t take too much—you can always go back and cut more later if you feel you’ve taken too little hair.
When you’re ready to cut your hair, be sure it’s wet, as this will make it easier to cut. Then, pay attention to the direction you’re holding the scissors, and do not cut directly across your forehead. This is especially important if you’re going for Marianne’s bang look, which is on the wispier side.
- Cut each section in an upside-down V: “When cutting your own fringe, and especially if you’re going for a more wispy look, it’s important not to cut bluntly straight across,” Mackintosh explains. “Instead, you want to cut each section of hair in an upside-down V shape. So, take your first small section of hair straight down, leaving it slightly longer than you may desire, because when dry, they often jump up. “Once you’ve cut your first V, take your next section, keeping it ever so slightly longer than the previous, and repeat. Continue this step to complete your fringe. It may be one or two more sections until you reach mid-brow, each individual’s hair will vary.”
- Completely separate your bangs from the rest of your hair: If you already have bangs that you want to cut more like Marianne’s style, the technique is the same. Mackintosh recommends ensuring that your bangs are completely separated from the rest of your hair. “Tie [the rest of your hair] in a ponytail, this will avoid you adding any hair to the fringe that wasn’t originally there.”
Tips to Remember
Mackintosh let us in on a few vital tips to pulling this off successfully. She cites the type of scissors and the amount of hair you cut as the most important factors.
Use the Right Scissors
- Look online for hair specialist scissors: Mackintosh stresses that you should look for the right scissors if you’re going to try to cut your own bangs—but if you don’t already own hair specialist scissors, they might be hard to find. “Ideally hair specialist scissors will always be the best [to use],” she says. “However, they can often be very expensive and I’m told the cheaper options are selling like hot cakes in quarantine.”
- If you can’t find them, use a straight-bladed nail scissor: There are options, though. “If you can’t get hold of them, use a straight-bladed nail scissor. Avoid kitchen scissors at all costs!” This is because, she says, “[kitchen scissors] leave the hair with a much chunkier finish.”
Cut Less Than You Think You Need To
- Don’t do this if you’re feeling bored or impatient: “Working in a salon, I’ve seen it all with DIY fringes,” Mackintosh says. “Terrible mistakes have often been made after a couple of drinks or in the spur of an impatient moment. I’ve had lots of clients take their fringe far too short, giving them an entirely new look, or too wide, resulting in random pieces of hair sitting at the side of the head.
- Take less hair while sectioning: To avoid mistakes, she recommends to take less hair than you think you need when you’re sectioning, and to cut the bangs longer than you think you want. There are two reasons for this: One, your hair is wet, so it’s going to jump up and end up shorter once it’s dry. Two, you might end up cutting too much at once if you’re not conservative with the scissors.
- Keep repeating “Less is more”: This less-is-more technique is one that even Mackintosh uses when she’s cutting hair in a salon. “When cutting clients’ fringes, I always keep it on the longer side and tell them we can take it shorter,” she says. “Once it’s gone, it’s gone!”
Follow these steps, and you should end up with pretty badass bangs like Marianne’s in Normal People—but remember, it’s still always ideal to have a professional do these things. So, if you can bare to wait for your new bangs (or you can’t locate a good pair of scissors), do that.