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The only problem is, I'm a sweaty gal. In the summer, I can't have my favourite 'bottleneck bangs' (somewhere between a curtain fringe to frame the face and a full fringe) because it ends up plastered to my forehead. This often leaves me with a grown-out fringe that just sort of just... sits there whenever I put my hair up and is barely distinguishable when I have my hair down.
I thought I would be totally resigned to this life. That is, until I saw 'bangs with benefits' trending on TikTok.
Shags, mullets, wolf cuts, and even the octopus cut have boomed in popularity. But 'bangs with benefits' are a toned down version. It's a nod to these trending styles without the commitment of growing out layers.
What are 'bangs with benefits'?
The phrase 'bangs with benefits' was coined by hairstylist Caroline Stahl, who has since gone TikTok viral with the style. In the videos, which have amassed millions of views, Caroline explained how she likes to cut bangs on clients who want a little more pizazz than face framers, but don't want to commit to losing a big chunk from the front of their hair to swooping curtain bangs.
Stahl may have dubbed the cut as such, but this style of fringe has been popular in Korea for a while. Also known as the 'Korean side bang', the cut is meant to be a step up from traditional curtain bangs, which feel quite separated from the rest of the hair. Instead, 'bangs with benefits' are like an extended curtain bang, cut into the rest of the hair at the side, so when you tie up your hair it looks thick and feathery, not bitty or separated.
Essentially, the cut takes a smaller section of hair from around the face, from the parting to the top of the ear, and is cut downwards at an angle. Shags, mullets, 'wolf cuts', and even the trending 'octopus cut' have boomed in popularity in the last few years. But 'bangs with benefits' are a super toned down version of these trends. It allows the wearer to give a nod to these styles without the commitment of growing out layers.
Where can you get 'bangs with benefits'?
I knew that I wanted to get 'bangs with benefits' cut in as soon as I saw Stahl's first TikTok video. I became tired of how flat my grown out bottleneck fringe had started to look, so I paid a visit to the tranquil and eco-friendly salon Buller + Rice in Newington Green, where co-founder and director Anita Rice was ready and waiting to help me revitalise my grown-out cut.
"I'm always a bit sceptical when new names are given to styles which already exist," Anita told me, "but I like 'bangs with benefits' because it's somewhere between the quite extreme choppy layers of the 'Rachel' cut, and the '80s iteration of the mullet. It's much more wearable, without having to make loads of changes to the rest of your hair."
When it comes to 'bangs with benefits', the reference to the mullet is the shorter parts of hair which sit above the ear. "These shorter pieces create a sort of 'peek-a-boo' element under the longer pieces of your hair, which are then covered when you wear your hair down," said Anita.
Anita sectioned out the hair to be cut, following the guide of where my fringe already sat, and straightened those strands to see the length accurately. She actually decided to cut my hair when dry, rather than damp. Anita then got to work trimming away the length, and we agreed that the longest parts should sit along my jawbone to frame my face, while the shorter parts of the grown out bangs would sit just above my cheekbones.
Cutting down at an angle to create the face framing element, Anita then chipped away at the ends to remove some bulk and to lend more of a shattered look, rather than a straight edge.
How do you style bang with benefits?
Anita told me that once my hair settled into its natural pattern in a few days or after a wash, how I needed to style it would become more obvious — and it's different for all hair types and textures. In fact, 'bangs with benefits' works really well on curly hair in particular, thanks to the natural volume. I have naturally wavy hair, so Anita straightened the shorter parts into a gentle curl away from my face, and used the straighteners again to flick the longer parts backwards. She then applied the OWAY Glossy Nectar, $29.65, to the lengths of my hair and to the ends of my fringe to help them blend together.
"This is such a versatile cut," said Anita. "You can go for a more dramatic, flippy, Farrah Fawcett-style by blow-drying all of the shorter pieces away from your face with a large round brush, or you can keep the 'benefits' part of the bangs hidden under the rest of your hair when it's down and focus on styling the top part of the bangs."
Keen to try the flippy blow-dry (currently having a resurgence thanks to influencers like Matilda Djerf, Audrey Peters, and Tamsin Amy), I washed my hair a few days later and had a go at styling the fringe myself. Recently I've been using the Noughty Colour Bomb Colour Protecting Shampoo, $14.99, and Conditioner, $14.99.
I applied the OWAY Smoothing Fluid, $71.45, to damp hair before rough drying it, and then I used the round brush tool on my Dyson Airwrap, $799, on medium-thick sections of hair. I had been put off from using the round brush for months because of how bulky my hair was around my face, but 'bangs with benefits' have fixed that problem.
Once I'd finished with the round brush on my entire head, I used it to blow-dry the longer parts of my bangs with benefits towards my face, and then I dried the shorter parts of my bangs upwards, by wrapping these sections of hair around the brush away from my face. I finished the look off with the Davines This is a Texturiser Spray, $43.95, to add texture and hold.
A fringe might not be for everyone, but 'bangs with benefits' is a perfect summer alternative to pretty much all of the trending fringe styles out there right now — and it's certainly the most wearable.