The Coolest Cuts: Layers and Bangs


All-one-length tresses are totally over. To look up-to-the-minute sexy, you’ve gotta snip some bouncy layers or hip bangs into your locks. We help you choose the look that’s right for you.

Everyone’s doing it. From screen stars to pop singers, all the trendsetting celebs are updating their tresses by getting piecey layers or eye-skimming bangs sliced into their locks. And there’s a good reason: “Adding any kind of face-framing pieces to the style you have makes it much more flattering to your features and a whole lot sexier,” says Oscar Blandi, the NYC stylist and salon owner who created the looks on these pages. And what’s great about both these mane effects is that they don’t require losing lots of length or making a dramatic change.

To Layer Your Locks

All-one-length strands may have looked good on Marcia Brady, but today’s hottest stars are all about alluring, swinging hair that has tons of body. And the good news is, you don’t have to be as tress-blessed as Courteney Cox Arquette to work this style. “Anyone can wear layers and incorporating some into your existing cut is the easiest way to give it a sexy, more modern look,” says Blandi. But not all layers are created equal. “You have to match them to your natural hair texture,” he says. Here, how to know which kind is right for your mane type.

If you have a curly coif, go for long, graduated layers all over your head to give your spirals definition so they are less frizz-prone.

If your strands are superfine, make some of your layers around ear-length to get volume at the roots.

If your mane is straight or kind of wavy and you want to make it look more shapely, add layers in the underneath section of your hair for a shaggy, bedhead look.

If your locks are ultrathick and you need to thin them out, ask your stylist to hold the scissors vertically while cutting the layers to take away the bulk.

Styling Secrets

Heed these pro tricks to get the layered-locks effect shown above. First, coat damp strands with a smoothing serum, then blow-dry your roots. Once they’re dry, attach a slanted nozzle to the dryer and, starting at the back of your head, wrap two-inch sections of hair around a round brush, one at a time. To get the most volume, brush these sections of hair upward as you dry, says Blandi. When you get to the front section of your hair, dry it inward, toward your face. Next, mix more shine serum with a dab of pomade in your palm, then run it from your ears down to accentuate your layers. Flip your head over, blast with cool air, flip upright, and your mane will have a tousled effect, says Blandi.

To Bring on the Bangs

If you haven’t worn fringe since you had training wheels on your bike, you’ll be happy to hear that they’ve come a long way. The newest bangs range from long and blunt to side-swept and wispy, which means every girl can find a style that’s perfect for her. “Bangs will look good on just about anyone. The key is determining the type that best complements your face shape,” says Blandi. Here, his guide for figuring out which fringe is ideal for you:

If your face is round, the most flattering effect is long, feathery bangs that curve into your face to minimize your full cheeks and add contour to your features. If your face is long, go for blunt brow-level bangs that cover your forehead and create the illusion of a more oval-shaped face. Also, ask your stylist to add longer layers at the sides.

If your face is square, check out long, side-swept bangs that taper into layers near your jaw. This style will help soften the angles of your face. Snip tip: Make sure your stylist sees your locks when they’re dry first, since hair is longer when it’s wet. You don’t want the stylist to screw up and snip off too much.

Styling Secrets

When blow-drying your bangs, the trick is to tackle them when they’re sopping wet. To get perfect results, first apply a small drop of a light shine serum to the area. Then clamp a two-inch section of bangs between two fingers and blow-dry the roots only; alternate aiming the dryer above and below the roots so they don’t get too flat or too puffy. When all the roots are almost dry but the ends are still damp, use a small, flat brush to curve the ends under while you blow-dry. If you want your bangs stick straight, smooth them out by running a small flatiron from midlength down. Finish with a mist of hair spray.