Every so often, a hairstyle comes along that instantly floods beauty Pinterest boards. Curtain bangs are the current it-look, and though they’re certainly not new, they’re making a major comeback in 2021 — which is why Bustle tapped hair experts for intel on how to style curtain bangs so you can rock your on-trend ‘do.
First popularized in the ’60s by it-girls like Brigette Bardot, curtain bangs have recently become a staple hairstyle among celebrities like Hilary Duff, Jennifer Lopez, and Halle Berry (to name a few). Unlike traditional bangs, this style features a middle part or shorter strands that fall on either side of your face to create a sort of, well, curtain look (hence the name). Because of that, they’re an easy and stylish way to switch up your hair — and they’re versatile enough to suit every hair type, from short curls to straight, long locks and everything in between.
Styling bangs can get tricky, though, according to TRESemmé global stylist Justine Marjan. “Depending on your hair type, you’ll want to style them differently,” she tells Bustle. For everything you need to know about how to style curtain bangs, pros Marjan, Dove hairstylist Patrick Kyle, Garnier consulting celebrity hairstylist Millie Morales, and more shared their tried and true tips. See below for 12 gorgeous ways to rock the look.
For this classic way to style curtain bangs, it’s all about volume. You’ll need a blow dryer, round brush, rollers, and your favorite mousse.
“Apply mousse all over, concentrating on your roots, and rough dry to about 80% dry, lifting roots up as you go,” says Kyle. “Then, section out your curtain bangs and round brush them up and away from your face.”
As a pro tip, he suggests giving the bangs a blast of heat and then set them in a roller. Leave them for two to three minutes to set and cool, then remove to see perfectly shaped curtains framing your face.
Waterfall Curtain Bangs
The best way to approach styling waterfall curtain bangs — as worn by Selena Gomez — is to begin with your hair damp, according to stylist Sacha Harford, who recommends the look for straight and wavy hair types.
Instead of creating a sharp part in the hair, she suggests blow drying slowly at low speed from roots to ends, stopping once the roots are dry but ends are lightly damp. “Then, angle the brush sideways in a vertical direction, starting from the middle [and going] section by section,” she tells Bustle.
If you have naturally wavy or fluffy hair, Marjan recommends applying a styling cream to damp hair after washing. “Wrap hair in a turban or let dry partially, then create a clean middle part and using your fingers to pinch the two sides of the bangs together at the root,” she says.
Messy High Ponytail
Kerry Washington has worn many stunning hairstyles, but this flirty high pony with slightly parted curtain bangs is a standout. To try the look yourself, Kyle suggests putting your hair into your desired updo and then pulling the side layers of your bangs out so they fall freely.
“You can use rollers or a curling wand to style the bangs into longer layers and loose, flowing tendrils that frame your face,” he tells Bustle. “I love to tuck a few layers behind the ear for a more relaxed look.”
Harford recommends using a small flat iron at the root, “especially in areas that retain frizz.” To revamp your bangs on the second or third day of this style, Marjan suggests misting the roots with a dry shampoo (like TRESemme’s Volumizing Dry Shampoo or Briogeo’s Scalp Revival Charcoal + Biotin Dry Shampoo) and massaging it into your scalp before using a volumizing brush to lift and revive volume.
Long Curtain Bangs
Beyoncé rocked curtain bangs back in 2005 with long lengths and a middle part. When styling lengthier curtain bangs, especially on hair with a finer texture, Harford notes that combing them out with mousse helps to thicken the strands so they don’t fall flat on your face.
“The mousse plumps the hair without stiffness,” she tells Bustle. “Make sure to direct the hair with product in it, moving downward in sections and starting from the bottom in horizontal sections.”
Curly Curtain Bangs
For curly curtain bangs, Morales says you can achieve a gorgeous, natural effect without any tools. “Use your fingers during the hair drying process, and control stubborn hairs with a small amount of leave-in while hair is still damp,” she tells Bustle. Her go-to product for this style is the Garnier’s Whole Blends Miracle Nectar Leave-In, but Pattern’s Leave-In Conditioner is also great.
While most stylists recommend styling curtain bangs on damp hair for easier manipulation, it is possible to start on dry hair if you’re in a rush. All you’ll need is a product to smooth your strands. Harford recommends using something like the Olaplex No.7 Bonding Oil to reduce frizz. “Put product into the bang area, either in conjunction with the mousse or alone if the hair is thick enough,” she tells Bustle.
Curtain bangs pair perfectly with more casual, loose updos. For a style like Dakota Johnson’s half-up look, getting the perfectly disheveled effect is key. Morales recommends using dry shampoo to give the bangs some volume while taming the frizz so that your hair is messy but smooth. Look for one that doesn’t leave a white residue, such as Amika’s Perk Up Dry Shampoo.
Side Swept Bangs
Zendaya wears her curtain bangs with a very ’60s-inspired side-swept hairdo, which you can copy with the right styling tools.
According to Morales, a good brush is essential if you’re styling your curtain bangs to one side of your face. “Using a round brush, blow dry your bangs straight down to define and pull them in the direction that you want,” she tells Bustle. To make sure it lasts, Marjan recommends using an extra-hold hairspray.
Relaxed Long Ponytail
If you’ve got long, face-framing curtain bangs, Kyle recommends pairing them with volume at the crown and roots as it makes the hair look fuller and thicker. An easy way to do this? With a high, relaxed ponytail, which Harford says gives your hair volume while allowing your curtain bangs to be the focal point.
To get the look, Kyle recommends using dry shampoo and spraying it onto the roots at the crown and sides, then teasing your hair to add some lift. Use rollers to style the shorter part of the bangs away from the face, or you can add shape and movement to longer layers with a curling wand or flat iron. If you make a mistake, no sweat: Harford says fixing it is as easy as dampening your hair with water in the area that didn’t set right and then redo just that section.
Shag With Curtain Bangs
French Bob With Curtain Bangs
The French bob is a severe and short cut that happens to work perfectly with a set of curtain bangs. Santos previously told Bustle the cut and bangs combo is ideal for flexibility and ease: “It can be loose and casual one day and polished and chic the next.” To zhuzh the bangs with this look, Santas recommends two styling options: For an elegant vibe, use a texturizing paste to keep your bangs in place and your strands smooth. If you want something more casual, she suggests working a volumizing mousse into blown-out hair.