All bangs have always been polarizing, but no style garners as much debate as side bangs. The long, swoopy, side-swept fringe that’s synonymous with Y2K hairstyles is suddenly everywhere again. Considering other looks from the decade (such as updos with face-framing tendrils and money-piece highlights) have ben making their way back into the modern hair lexicon, it was inevitable that side bangs would eventually reenter the chat, too.
But before diving into how side bangs are being worn today, let’s look back at how they became one of the biggest hairstyle trends of the early 2000s. On The Hills, Lauren Conrad inspired many to accessorize their side-swept bangs with a chunky headband, while Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie popularized the side bang and super-long hair extensions look on The Simple Life. And finally, Ashlee Simpson demonstrated how to do the style the punk way with the choppy, piecey side bangs she wore on her Autobiography album cover.
Fast forward to today: Instead of a heavy, clunky curtain of hair that covers one eye, the modern way to do side bangs is a swoop tucked behind the ear as seen on model Precious Lee, or soft and layered as seen at the Prabal Gurung Fall 2022 fashion show. TikTokers have even gotten in on the nostalgic trend, with the #sidebangs hashtag currently sitting at 32 million views.
So why are side bangs having a resurgence right now? “Side bangs are popular because they look great on any haircut style and also look good on any hair type,” Raven Hurtado, stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, tells TZR. “I think they’re making a come back because they add a youthful look and also, if you’re not ready to commit to a full bang, a side bang will be your best bet to start.”
Ahead, TZR rounded up nine ways to style side bangs to inspire your own takes on the nostalgic hair trend. Plus, expert tips on how to achieve the looks.
While side bangs are mainly associated with the early 2000s, model Precious Lee’s take on the look has a ‘60s feel, thanks to her baby bouffant blowout.
Soft & Voluminous
“I like to style side bangs with a nice voluminous blowout and the side bangs add a sultry look,” says Hurtado. Save model Duckie Thot’s bouncy waves for visual reference.
Pixie With Side Bangs
In the early 2000s, side bangs were mostly seen on long hair, however, the style can really elevate a pixie cut. These soft, layered bangs add volume and movement to a close chop.
Soft Curly Updo
When styling side bangs, Larry Sims, celebrity hairstylist and founder of Flawless by Gabrielle Union says to work with your texture. “I always say to lean into your hair texture. I think side bangs look cooler when the texture is consistent throughout your entire head of hair,” Sims shares. “If your hair is wavy or curly, use the Flawless By Gabrielle Union Defining Curl Cream and diffuse. You can redefine your texture with the Flawless By Gabrielle Union Hydrating Curl Refresher Spray.” It doesn’t get much chicer than a high bun with wispy curly bangs.
The Hair Flip
Gabrielle Union has hopped on the side bangs bandwagon, demonstrating just how versatile the look can be with the plethora of ways Sims has styled them, including this flippy high ponytail. The hairstylist recommends keeping side bangs long so they’re easier to maintain. “I wouldn’t go any shorter than the tip of the nose as that length gives a ‘curtain’ look to your bangs,” Sims says. “Anything shorter than that could be distracting and annoying unless they are blunt cut and above your lash line.”
Classic Side Bangs
When you think of side bangs, the hairstyle from Prabal Gurung’s Fall 2022 fashion show probably comes to mind. It consists of a deep side part and a swoopy bang that hits around the ear, and works well with a bob, a pixie, or longer lengths.
The High Ponytail
Combine two nostalgic hair trends in one style by wrapping your high ponytail with a satin scrunchie. While side bangs are low maintenance compared to other looks, cowlicks are always possible. Hurtado suggests “flat wrapping” to keep side bangs under control. “I like to use a paddle brush and my blow dryer and I sweep the bangs back and forth as I’m blow-drying,” the stylist says. “In the end, your results should be a relaxed side bang. Spray a little hairspray so they can hold all day.”
Faux Side Bangs
While side bangs require less commitment than full bangs, if you’re not ready to take the plunge, simply fake it. Leave one front section about an inch in size out of your top knot and wave it to create the effect of a long bang.
Curly Side Bangs
A curly bob and side bangs are a stylish match, and can also be faked without making the chop. Simply part your curls to the side, and create the illusion of a side bang by pinning up the front section of hair.