The time had finally come. After over two years without a haircut, my 3C/4A curls were in dire need of shaping. And when better than autumn to make a major hair change? I’ve always loved the way a fringe looks on other people, but had never considered the style for myself. A fringe is a lot of work: it requires constant styling and upkeep (remember when I said I hadn’t had a cut in over two years? The pandemic was only partly to blame; I’m pretty lazy when it comes to scheduling salon visits) so the style didn’t seem like a realistic choice for me.
From hair care to styling products to what a stylist should and shouldn’t do when they cut, read on for everything you need to know before booking that appointment for curly bangs.
First things first, are you really ready for a fringe?
“I make sure my clients know that bangs are a commitment. You need to be committed to styling them every day,” says Gotha, who walks clients through the pros and cons of a fringe in her chair before she even brings the scissors out, to let them know what they’re getting into and help relieve any pre-cut jitters.
It’s helpful to bring inspo photos to your appointment, but don’t expect the exact same results since your stylist should cut your fringe to suit your face shape and hair texture — not Kerry Washington’s. If you’re still unsure, take your time making a decision or consult with a hairstylist who can provide expert tips for your taste and lifestyle. The Curl Lounge (like many curl salons) offers complimentary curl assessments, 45-minute consultations that double as a checkup for your hair health as well as setting up long-term style goals. You should also consider lifestyle factors such as wearing eyeglasses or how often you work out: For me, working from home offered flexibility to style my hair only when I needed to so deciding to take the leap was no biggie.
Should a curly fringe be cut wet or dry?
If your stylist is giving you a fringe and starts on wet hair, question it. When curly hair is wet, it’s elongated and hasn’t shrunk up yet, which means you could end up with baby bangs you didn’t ask for. “It’s not that I don’t cut wet, but I always start dry and maybe go back in wet depending on how intricate or short your haircut is,” says Gotha. Your stylist should also give you a dry cut after freshly styling it because that’s when your hair is at its curliest. Another red flag is if your stylist combs out your hair with a fine-tooth comb before cutting it. They should always cut according to your curl and spring factor for the best results.
For my cut, I went into the salon with straightened hair (because length check, duh), so Gotha first washed, then styled and dried my hair before cutting it. While at the washing station, she used Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo, £26, and No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner, £26, to revive my curls, which were quite lifeless after straightening. (Olaplex works on a molecular level to restore the hair’s broken bonds caused by heat damage or chemical treatments like bleaching or colouring).
The bounciness of your curls really depends on how healthy your hair is, which is where quality hair products come in. Some of Gotha’s favourite brands are Briogeo and BondiBoost, which don’t have formaldehydes or preservatives like parabens, if you're keen to avoid them. If you’re on a budget, she suggests opting for higher quality shampoo, conditioner, and a treatment, which will last longer, provide results and save your coin when it comes to styling products since they’re used more frequently.
“Don’t ever trust the front label,” says Gotha, noting that marketing (this applies to all products including those that claim to be “natural”) can be misleading. (Always read the ingredient list on the back.) She also recommends avoiding oil-based conditioners, such as those that contain coconut oil or castor oil, which could lead to buildup that may cause dryness. Same goes with the use of silicones — while they give hair shine, they are hard to rinse out. If you do choose to use these ingredients, try a clarifying shampoo like the Moroccanoil Clarifying Shampoo £18.95, to remove buildup and help retain moisture.
How can I style a curly fringe?
After my wash, Gotha used Ouidad Featherlight Styling Cream, £26, as a leave-in conditioner and began styling with her go-to choice of Uncle Funky’s Daughter Curly Magic Curl Stimulator, £23.99. She suggests an aloe-based gel because it doubles as a curl-holding product while also adding hydration and preventing split ends. Using her hands on soaking wet hair, she raked the product through my whole head and scrunched the front area to form the curls. If you’re someone like me, who wears their hair in a middle part or slicked bun often and might not have as much curl at the front, try finger coiling with the gel for more definition.
Like most people with curly hair, I have multiple textures on my head. The front and sides are looser 3C curls, while the back of my head has tighter 4A curls. This means that the bottom of my hair is shorter compared to the sides, so Gotha used Lottabody Milk & Honey Curl Defining Mousse, £5.99, to elongate my curls. You can’t avoid shrinkage, but adding foam after applying gel helps to retain some length.
After sitting under the hooded dryer for about 20 minutes, Gotha used the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer to make sure my whole head was dry before cutting. (Expert tip: Since most of us don’t have a hooded dryer at home, use a diffuser attachment with your head facing downwards to create volume.
Using a blow dryer to dry your hair helps to set the product which makes your style last longer.) Gotha then began shaping my curls and started on the bangs. With every snip she asked if I was okay with the length before proceeding and landing at the right length. By the end, I was left with face framing curtain bangs that made me feel *super* elevated.
How often should I come into the salon to maintain my curly fringe?
If you have looser curls you’ll want to go to the salon every four to six weeks because your bangs will look longer faster. Those with tighter curls can go about six to 10 weeks before coming in to touch up their bangs because they have more spring factor which means it’ll take more time to visually see growth. Basically, I won’t be going MIA from hair appointments anymore — I’m committed.
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