For the past few years, I’ve been growing out my hair in an effort to fix a series of bad cuts and colors.
About four years ago, at the height of Zooey Deschanel’s twee omnipotence, I talked myself into getting blunt, straight-across fringe. I loved my haircut for about a week, until a nasty rainstorm left me looking like a sad Lhasa Apso. I blow-dried and styled my bangs as soon as I got home, but afterward, the magic was kind of lost.
After growing out that catastrophe, I attempted a “lob”—a haircut that both Pinterest and my stylist assured me would be fool proof—and still managed to look bad. I tried to fix it with ombre coloring—a combination I called “lombre”—but despite the delicious portmanteau, that didn’t work either.
Scared off by this series of missteps, I aggressively avoided changing my hair. I let it grow out, hardly styled it and wore it up every day. I neglected it for so long that when I finally wore it down a few weeks ago, I was shocked by how long it had gotten. It felt like a revelation. It was as though Oprah had shone her divine guiding aha-moment-light upon me, urging me to change.
I had always liked the concept of mini-bangs—also known as “micro bangs,” “micro fringe,” and “baby bangs”—but I was also a little intimidated by them. At the same time, I was attracted to their boldness: They were simultaneously elegant and badass, like a cross between Audrey Hepburn and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
With my hair the way it was—sad, frizzy, and perpetually braided or top-knotted—I figured that I had nothing to lose, and began mentally committing to the idea of adopting some edgy forehead-hair.
Before I booked an appointment, I gave this new haircut some serious thought: what if the micro fringe unflatteringly exaggerated my head shape and I became a human lizard? What if I looked like Liz Lemon on that one episode of 30 Rock where she gets her own talk show and becomes a monster?
The possibilities for another hair catastrophe made me nervous, but inspired by babes from Krysten Ritter to Amelie to Emily V. Gordon, I decided to give it a shot.
Worst-case scenario: I would invest in a couple of really good hats and then write four to six minutes of stand-up material about hating my hair, because there’s nothing more hilarious than the crippling existential shame of a bad haircut.
Finally, last Friday, I did it. I opted for a piece-y fringe because I have a gnarly cowlick that would’ve made blunt bangs impossible. Because of said cowlick, I couldn’t chop my fringe too short, so I settled for a messy mid-forehead cut.
I also cut about four inches off the rest of my hair, because for some inexplicable reason, having hair past my shoulders makes me feel like a basset hound with dangly hair-ears. Does that metaphor even make sense? Like most insecurities, it’s pretty much unfounded, but I have to indulge it anyway.
So on Friday afternoon, I walked out of the salon with a blunt shoulder-length cut and choppy micro-bangs, and I’m in love.
Overall, I would give my micro-fringe experience a solid 9/10. I’m a little irked by the fact that my cowlick makes the fringe on the right side of my face stick up sort of weirdly, but it’s pretty much under control.
I love how my hair looks when it’s half-up, and I assume it would look great in a chignon, even though I don’t actually know what that is. It sounds really elegant and French, though, so as soon as I figure out how to do one, I can confirm that hunch.
If you’re looking to get micro-bangs, here are a few things you might want to keep in mind—or ignore them, if that’s your jam. I don’t even know the definition of “chignon,” so I’m clearly not a hair expert. Exercise judgment as you see fit.
1. Think about whether you want your fringe to be blunt or choppy. Straight-across Bettie Page-esque bangs seem to work best on straight hair, whereas curly hair is conducive to a great messy fringe.
2. Micro-bangs are a lot shorter than they look. It’s hard to get a flat iron through mine since they’re so short, even though they hit about mid-forehead. If you decide to cut yours any shorter, your styling options might be limited.
3. If you’re a shower-at-night kind of person, you’ll have to account for the fact that these bangs need to be blow-dried in order to look right. I’ve found that drying them at night and then tying them down overnight with a headband or silk scarf can help minimize my cowlick and make styling easier the next morning.
4. Be realistic. I got really caught up imagining the worst possible outcomes, and I kind of psyched myself out. You probably won’t end up looking like a reptile, but you probably won’t look like Beyoncé either. Your face will still look like your face, just with adorable little baby bangs on it.
On the whole, I’m really satisfied with this haircut. Despite my recent history of terrible hair decisions, I’m glad that I took the risk, and I’d encourage anyone who’s been toying with the idea of getting micro fringe to go for it.
And if you hate it? It’ll grow back. Plus, we can write stand-up about bad haircuts together, and become a wildly successful comedy duo like Garfunkel and Oates. Your call.
What risky hair choices have you made (or wanted to make) recently? Tell us in the comments!