How to style bangs and fringes over 50

In Look Your Best by Joni6 Comments

In this article I’ll look first at techniques and products for styling bangs and layers next to the face.  This part is very much a DIY lesson.

Later in the post I’ll look at which styles complement your face. 

Most of us at some time have DIY-ed our bangs.  But it’s often a good idea to get the first cut from a professional.  And for that you need to be able to show a picture of exactly what you want her or him to achieve for you. So you’ll find various shapes of bangs illustrated here.

The quick fix for your hairstyle – style your fringe

You know that wonderful moment when you’ve just left the hairdressing salon and you catch your reflection in a storefront window as you stroll back to your car?  ‘Wow!  I look so good right now,’ that little voice inside is saying.

And it’s true you do!

But what about tomorrow and the week ahead?  We all know how difficult it is to retain that great style just so.  Especially if we lead busy lives.

But if you concentrate on keeping the hair nearest your face looking good you’ll find your style lasts so much longer.  So even if you find brush or flatiron styling a huge chore, just spend a few minutes every day doing the most important task – styling your bangs – and you’ll be so pleased you did.

Yes, I know you think you should lovingly style every strand of hair but once you’re over 50, and certainly once you’re over 60, hair blow-drying and styling gets more tiring and awkward.  It gets much more tiring to hold your arms above your head holding a heated appliance. And it’s even more difficult to hold a heavy hairdryer in one hand and a brush in the other and try to make them work in concert.

So let’s get going and look at simple techniques for looking great every day.

The best tools for styling bangs, fringes and side layers

Silvery curls soften this older face
This square face is softened by finger-styling curls so they cut off one corner of the face. stylecraze.com

While each bang is unique, there are a few essential tools for creating amazing bang styles: the correct brush or brushes; a heated styling tool such as a flatiron or a circular wand; heated rollers of the correct size.

How to choose the right hairbrush for bangs

Most of us will need a round brush for bangs and many of us will also want a standard flat hairbrush for finishing.

Here’s the rule for buying a round brush.  The shorter your hair the smaller diameter of the circular brush. 

So if you are styling shoulder length hair a large round brush will be perfect to get smooth and slightly curved ends.  Hair that’s cut to about your chin needs a narrower brush to give plenty of volume at the roots but still give a controlled and smoothly curved look to the finished style.  A pixie cut needs a small narrow round brush to lift the hair then you can style the top ends straighter or curlier. 

So when you come to styling your bangs you need to think in the same way.  Short fringe that needs plenty of lift?  Start with a narrow brush.  Longer draped bangs layered through the front of your hair or smoothed across your forehead to one side?  A medium brush is perfect to give some lift but also maintain a smooth final look.

Many of us will want to use the small round bristled brush to give lift at the roots of our bangs then finish off with a flat brush to smooth the length so it doesn’t look too curly against the rest of our hair.

But what about if you have naturally wavy hair?  Then use a flat brush to straighten your bangs and give a smoother look near your face.  You already have the body so don’t bother with a circular hairbrush.

And if you have naturally curly hair you may only need your fingers to distribute the curls around your face.

How to choose the right hairdryer for your fringe

Don’t go by price.  Some of the most expensive and most efficient hairdryers are very heavy and frankly, over 50 or 60, they become really difficult to hold up whilst blow-drying with a brush.  Personally I use a medium weight dryer and give myself plenty of time for taking rests when my arms get tired.

If your arms get tired very easily you may be better just to invest in a small, lightweight travel hairdryer – at least for a quick daily fix.

You’ll need a nozzle on the dryer so all that warm air gets focussed exactly where you want it.  If your hair is thick or long you can use the hairdryer without the nozzle to start with whilst you use your fingers to tousle the wet strands apart.  But don’t let the hair get too dry yet.  And be especially careful about getting your fringe or side layers too dry.

Always use a modern hairdryer that has several heat settings including a cold blow.  You’ll use that cold air to ‘set’ the wave or lift you’ve made with the warmer temperature settings.

How to choose heated appliances including rollers for bangs

Highlighted hair with bangs flicking away from face
This long face looks good with a half-fringe reducing the high forehead and side flicks to add width to the face. stylecraze.com

If you are styling only your bangs then a mini heated wand, small heated styling brush, mini heated tongs or a petite flatiron (UK straighteners) is perfect.  These tools heat up just as well as their big sisters but they are so much more manageable. 

If you have longer bangs then you could go for a few heated rollers instead.  These are great for giving a smooth relaxed swoop to your hair without any danger of overheating your locks.

My preference is for those very lightweight modern Velcro rollers that you pop into a sort of bucket to heat up (see end of this post).  They are amazingly fast so, if you don’t like the result, it takes no time to just redo the wave. They are also very lightweight so ideal for a quick fix every morning while you’re brushing your teeth!

As with the brush, the narrower the heated appliance or thinner the rollers, the better for shorter areas of hair such as layers round your face or a fringe.

Techniques for styling bangs and fringes with a brush

Spritz with water the areas of hair you will be styling if these are dry.

Hold the round brush against the root of your hair and the scalp and direct the warm air from the dryer nozzle right at the root.  Then pull the hair so that it curls around the bristles as you twist the brush whilst slowly drawing it through the length of the hair.  If you have thick bangs you may need to do this two or three times to get the effect you want.

Depending on the look you want you can twist the hair right to the very end.  This gives the biggest bounce to a straight cut forehead fringe and adds a flick to the end of a side swept fringe.  Side layers will look wavier than the rest of the hair.

If you want some bounce but overall a straighter look to your bangs then use the brush to draw the ends of the hair a little straighter than the roots. But still keep a slight twist right to the end.  This should give you a more natural look that blends easily with the rest of your hair.  You’ll need to practise.  But once you’ve got the technique that works for you, styling bangs should take no more than a few minutes every morning.

Choppy fringe on pixie cut
A choppy fringe well above brow level and angled side layers focus the attention on the eyes and not the rather large nose. haircolorsite.com

Techniques for styling bangs with heated appliances

Using straighteners on bangs

A mini flatiron or small straighteners can be easier to manipulate than a brush.  Just be aware that the effect is more dramatic than working with a brush. 

Use a medium heat. 

Again, start from right at the roots to give lift then move in one smooth action down the length of the hair. 

For ringlets at the sides you can wind the hair around the flatiron for a few moments then unwind it carefully and arrange the corkscrew with your fingers.  Obviously the smaller the area of hair you curl and the longer you apply heat the more of a corkscrew effect you get.  I would start with as little time as possible and redo the curl if it’s too loose.  The corkscrew is a style these days but, as always as we age, the more natural the twist looks, the more youthful our face looks next to it.

For a looser wave or a straight cut fringe use the straighteners rather like the round brush.  Pull it slowly through the length of the hair twisting as you go.  If the flick at the end is too much for you then use the appliance to slightly straighten just the ends.  Again, be careful not to overheat the ends of the hair.

While you are practising, try using the flatiron to roll the hair at the sides of your face forwards and backwards.  Most people have a definite preference for the direction of the wave. 

I have found that it helps my heavier side fringe if I blow-dry the hair against the direction I want it to lie.  This needs a bit of practice to get the right look but if your hair is naturally flat and you want it to have more body then it’s worth it.  The result has that Princess Diana look if you spray it into place.

Use the same technique with a narrow heated styling brush (a sort of hairdryer and styling tool all-in-one) or the styling wand.  Both of these are shaped like the round brush and I find they give a softer look and a smoother end bend that the flatiron.

A heavy fringe and short hair suit a double chin
A short style with a heavy fringe that stops at below brow level. Angled straight-cut side bangs that stop above the ears. This balances a softer face with its larger nose and double chin and keeps attention at the top of the face. hadviser.com

Using rollers for a fringe

Heated rollers can be used daily for a few minutes just to soften and style layers near your face or even for a fringe.  When I had a shortish straight-cut fringe across my forehead I used to sometimes manually hold the heated roller under my fringe for a minute or so.  Then I’d carefully remove it and often give a spritz of hairspray to the finished result, including at the roots under the hair.

Now my bangs are longer I can use rollers in the normal way.  If they need support I can use a roller pin to skewer them into place. You just have to be careful not to leave odd crimps or indentations across your hair when using grips or clips with rollers.  You are often rolling up very fine areas of hair when you style bangs.

Dangers of applying heat to style bangs and fringes

Be very careful not to over-heat the hair.  This can easily happen at the ends where your hairdresser may have graduated the length into wispy fronds for a natural look.  To stop over-heating only ever use a warm, not hot, appliance setting.  If using a brush, move it more quickly through thinner areas of hair i.e. the ends.  Hold the dryer further away from the ends of the hair than the roots.

Overheated hair in general has a lack of shine and bounce.  Overheated fine hair such as your fringe and layered side areas leads to frizz, brittleness and difficulty in restyling.

You can use protective products to stop damage from over-heating, see below, but the best method is to practise your brush technique or to underestimate rather than overestimate the time to leave heated appliances in your hair.

If you want your fringe to have bounce then concentrate on the roots.  I often dry the roots of my fringe by pulling the roots up and bending them over my index finger with my middle finger.  I slowly move my fingers towards the ends of the fringe twisting as I go.  Since my fingers will hurt if I am in danger of over-heating my hair this is a safe way to deal with small areas of wave.  The pulling action at the roots really helps my flat hair to bounce.

Now that I’m growing out my short bangs into side-swept layers this technique is not quite so useful.  The hair is longer and difficult to twist around my finger.  Now I use a small brush to get the wave.

I have written a detailed post on how to add body to fine or flat hair so take a look at the techniques.  Some can be used for bangs.

Wispy side flicks hairstyle
A choppy side-swept fringe and wispy side flicks kept to ear level make sure we look at her eyes not less appealing area around her mouth. haircolorsite.com

Should you use product on bangs and fringes?

Any product that is oily or intended to moisturize or condition (i.e. smooth) your hair is probably not a great idea for your layers and bangs near the face which become greasy and limp faster than other areas of your hair.

Products that add body can be useful but only use very small quantities and only apply them under the hair at the root.

Products that fix the hair can be ideal as long as you use the smallest possible amount.  Think hairspray, styling gels and mousses.  Dab or spray these under the hair at the root to maintain the bend you’ve got going there after styling with a brush or heated tool. Then finger finish the top layer so it looks as you want it.  Finally add a spritz of hairspray if your fringe easily droops back into your eyes.

If you add too much product to these very small areas of fine hair they will get heavy and wilt.  The only thing to do then is to sweep your hair away from your face all except for the bangs and bend over the handbasin.  Wash out the product, finger dry the fringe and start styling again – older and wiser!

How to choose the right bangs for your face shape and features

Long bangs and tapered side flicks hairstyle for woman over 60
This square face is softened by long bangs which disrupt the contours. Side flicks are straightened and slightly turned towards the face for a natural look. urhair.co.uk

Your bangs may be trimmed and styled perfectly, but to get the results you want, they must look good next to your features and as a frame around your face shape.

As a general rule the softer and rounder your face shape and features are, the more angular you can cut bangs.  And the more angular your face and the more prominent or thinner your nose the better you will look with a softer waved look near your face.

These rules only apply to older women, by the way.  When you have the smooth skin of a twenty-year old you can wear just about any style of bangs as long as you keep them looking good.

As with all style, you can choose to either dramatize your natural features and face shape or you can decide to downplay your natural look to make it look more classically balanced.  If you tend towards a casual classic style you’ll want to work to give a balanced look to your face and hair.  If you like to look more striking and memorable then disregard the ‘rules’ below or even go in the opposite direction! 

Bangs for a rounder face

To make your full cheeks look more classically beautiful disrupt the circle of your face by drawing a fringe sideways across and down.  In effect you are cutting off a ‘corner’ of the circle.  The longer the bangs, the narrower your face will look.  Heavy bangs look good this way.  You may need to experiment with how to hold the side sweep in place unless it tucks behind your ear.  Mess about with various bobby pins (hairgrips UK) and slides until you get the right angle of that side sweep.  For dressy occasions you might go for spraying the hair to the side to keep it smart for longer.

Bangs for a longer face

A fringe that comes down to your brow line will shorten your face.  You can soften this look by extending the bangs to the sides with graduated layers. 

Bangs for a heart-shaped face, a small jaw or a pointed chin

Use longer bangs each side and sweep them back at chin level to create fullness.  This balances your face well.

Bangs for soft rounded features such as a double chin or wide nose

Keep your hair short so that the heaviness and fullness is all above your wider features – nose and/or chin.  You can add angled bangs that finish about ear-level to accentuate this top area.  Try a shorter heavy fringe that shows some forehead above your brows.  Pixie cuts sometimes incorporate this look. You want everyone to concentrate on your eyes not lower down on your face.  Short hair and a structured heavy fringe can do this.

Don’t part your bangs in the middle so they form an inverted V on your forehead, like curtains.  This will add shadow to your cheeks and highlight your nose.  If it’s not your nose but your chin that’s looking too heavy these days then longer curtain bangs narrow the top of your face and broaden your chin – not the look you want.

Bangs for a square jaw, angular features or prominent cheek bones

You will have looked great up to the age of about 50 with a straight cut fringe across your brow.  This accentuates the structure and angular look of your face and features which has likely been a plus for you till more recently. However, many of us will want to de-emphasise angularity after 60.  That’s because an angular face usually loses fat on the cheeks with age so it’s easy to look gaunt.  In fact it’s all too easy to look rather witch-like with straight cut bangs (I know, I’ve been there!).

A side-swept fringe will mask one of your cheekbones and add interest to a squarer face as with the round face.  Swept back softly-waved side layers can add fullness around the face and detract from ‘too much structure’.  The exact length of those swept-back bangs will depend on your own face and features so be ready to get in some practice.  Trying on wigs can sometimes help.  Or get side bangs cut long and only shorten them slowly to see how each length works to soften your face.

Anything that swoops and swirls near your face will soften it.  So try out styles by using a mini flat-iron or straighteners.  Try twisting the hair at different angles.  Try leaving the ends with a flick then try the same look with a straighter end. 

Long side-swept fringe in gray hair
A dramatic side-swept fringe covers one cheek on this angular face. Pinterest.

Try parting your hair at different places so bangs fall differently and change the edges of your face.  Try a heavier side swept fringe taken from far over on the other side of your head so it makes a soft arch as it falls.  Then tuck any remaining fringe on the other side neatly behind your ear.

You may find a soft corkscrew curl can look good on you.  This is a tousled look not neat ringlets.  It’s all about adding fullness, movement and fun to what can sometimes look a rather severe face after 60 or so.

How to soften your look by snipping your fringe

If you like a fringe across your forehead think about cutting a few layers into it so it’s easier to give it more body and bounce – adding to that rounding, softening look you want.  Or go for a messy or choppy fringe.  This bulks up the fringe so it doesn’t draw one solid hard line across your forehead.  You’ll need a light ‘bedhead’ mousse to keep the messiness in place or you’ll find yourself tousling your fringe with your fingertips every few moments.

Everyone’s face is different (thank goodness!) so once you’ve thought about the basic style rules it’s simply a case of trial and error until you hit on a look that makes you look your very best.

It can take so long to research the right tools and products online so here are some suggestions to get you started. I haven’t necessarily used these items. I’ve just researched what I consider to be well-adapted to styling bangs. The following items are all from Walmart except for the heated roller set.

Living Proof hairspray

Kenra volume mousse

Kadus heat protection spray

Revlon Lightweight hair dryer

Babyliss mini flatiron

Cloud Nine. The O Pod Heated roller set (the one I use!)

I’ve added some pictures of bangs and fringes to this article so you can practise different looks.  If you take your phone to the hairdresser’s you can access this post to show her or him the style of bangs you’re looking to achieve. Trying to describe what you want in words is usually impossible.

If you found this article useful you might want to read these too:

25 easy-care hairstyles for women over 50

How to shape and define your eyebrows over 50

Improve dry and wiry hair after 50

Comments

    1. Author

      Hi Sharon. Glad you found this useful. Tongs (UK English) are also called irons, curling irons, straighteners. I try to use a mix of UK and US terms in my articles as I know most of my readers are in the US and Canada but I’m British and have a following there too. Thanks for taking the time to comment – it makes it all worthwhile! Joni x

  1. Very useful indeed, will take my phone along to the hairdresser. Will definitely try the tips re lifting the roots.

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