You Asked It

Oh! You Pretty Things

How to trim bangs, wear black lipstick, clear up your face, and handle flyaways.

I’ve had my bangs trimmed professionally for as long as I’ve had them, and now I want to try cutting them myself. But I’m scared that I’m going to do something wrong! Do you have any tips for bang-trimming newbies? —Libby, 18, Kansas City

As a ever-banger myself, I totally feel this. A bang trim can be life-altering, seriously! Sometimes I feel like I’m hiding behind my hair like a Ramone and get annoyed that I can’t afford another trip to the salon for like a MONTH—woe is me, etc.—and then I remember I can just trim my own bangs!

One time in college, I was out in the garage with my Grandpa Bill, who was helping me make a bed frame. He told me a cardinal rule of carpentry, or really any DIY project: “Measure twice, cut once.” Even though we’ll be cutting WAY more than once here, the lesson is: Be careful and plan ahead before you make any drastic moves! When it comes to trimming your bangs, moderation and trepidation are key.

Here’s what you’re gonna do:

  • If you wear your bangs straight, iron or blow-dry your them as straight as possible. Otherwise, style as you normally would. Don’t cut wet hair, since it looks different when it’s dry and styled.
  • If you have particularly thick bangs, prepare to cut them in two layers. Hold all of your bangs straight up off of your forehead and use the pointy end of a comb (like this one) to section off a thin layer of hair all across your head. Clip the top part out of the way while you work on the bottom layer.
  • Grasp your hair between your first and middle fingers in the way I am here:

photo (46)

  • Use real haircutting shears (not something like these craft scissors I had to demonstrate with because I’m at an AirBnB in Scotland). Do NOT hold the scissors horizontally—you’re going to snip up into your bangs, not across them. With this technique, you’re making little changes one at a time, instead of a big horizontal chop that you might regret. So hold those scissors vertically, you hear?!
  • Using great care, start in the middle of your forehead and trim about two millimeters of hair by snipping at it with just the very tippy tips of the scissors (held vertically!). I know this sounds like it won’t work! But it will. Imagine you’re creating fringe paper, like this, only your cuts are the tiniest cuts imaginable. You should be seeing sprinklings of very short hair come off instead of chunks.
  • Slowly move toward one side of your head in the same fashion, then the other.
  • Let go of your hair and examine it. Do you need to cut any more, or will this do? Repeat until you reach a length you’re happy with. Sometimes I go back over it liiike…10 times. “Measure 10 times, cut 10 times,” right, Grandpa Bill?!

And if you suddenly, inexplicably jerk your hand upward and cut a big hole into your bangs like I did last month, remember: Bobby pins exist, and hair grows back! —Jane Marie

When I put my hair in a ponytail or bun, untameable flyaway hairs always stick out. I’ve tried brushing my hair repeatedly before pulling it up, hiding the flyaways with headbands, and hair-spraying them down to smooth them, but nothing works. Is there anything I can do to get them under control? —Rachel, 19, Williamsport, PA

Don’t take this the wrong way, but the first thing I thought of here was this one perfect T-shirt my grandma loved so much she wore right through it. It had a picture of the Gibson Girl, who, according to Wikipedia, represented “the feminine ideal of beauty portrayed by the satirical pen-and-ink illustrations of Charles Dana Gibson.” I think you should wear your hair more like hers.

Right: The photo xx sent in of her hair. Left: Drawings depicting Gibson's famous ladies.

Right: The photo Rachel sent in of her hair. Left: Drawings depicting Charles Dana Gibson’s famous ladies via Tumblr.

I KNOW her hair is humungous, but hear me out: The simplest solution to your problem is to work with your frizz, not against it. Instead of a tight bun, a looser style will complement your hair’s natural texture. I realize this is a departure from your current look, but give it a try. Here’s an easy step-by-step on how do an updated Gibson Girl updo.

Start with clean, dry hair. As I demonstrate in this video, you’re going to backcomb, or rat, it a little, which is much nicer-looking than it sounds:

Grab a one- or two-inch-wide section of hair—as much as you would if you were going to flat-iron it or put it in a curler—and a teasing comb like this one. While holding your hair away from your head by the ends, drag the comb through it, from the middle to your scalp. Repeat until that section resembles a little ball of wool. (If your hair is especially long, there might be some dangly hairs that don’t look like a rat’s nest. That’s OK.) Do this all over your head. You don’t have to go as big as I did! You just want to create a little more structure.

Depending on how long your hair is, you can either begin pinning up your hair like I do in that video, or, if you have much longer hair, you can section your hair and start rolling it up into the style shown here:

Play around with making a bun with a ponytail holder, versus using only bobby pins, versus a combination of both, and finish with a light mist of hairspray. It seems like a lot of work, but if you consider that you’re not blow-drying, curling, or using any other heat-styling tools, you’re not really doing too much to your hair. With some practice, this style should take you less than 10 minutes to do. Just be gentle when combing it out—tugging at it can damage it.

If you are like, “What are you even talking about, Jane? I asked how to have a slicker hairdo!” then try one of these things:

Apply lots of gel on wet hair—and I mean LOTS, like a good few tablespoons—and attack those little flyways around your hairline with a fine-toothed comb before pulling your hair up in a tight bun. Finish with tons of hairspray. You might have to use water and hairspray throughout the day to keep this look tight. The result is what we oldsters call Robert Palmer girl hair. J. Lo wears it on a regular basis, and she looks awesome:

Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage via Marie Claire.

Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage, via Marie Claire.

A last resort: Flat-iron the crap out of your hair before putting it up, paying special attention to the tiny hairs around your hairline. I would not personally do this, because it will eventually ruin your hair if you do it too frequently—excessive heat-styling leads to breakage!—but hey, you asked. If you go this route, make sure to use a heat protectant (here are some good inexpensive ones!) before hitting your head with the straightener. —Jane Marie ♦

Curious about what the heck to put on your face and body? Jane Marie and her hott creww are ready to help! Email your questions to Please sign your email with your name/nickname/initials, age, and city.


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  • GlitterKitty August 20th, 2014 12:09 AM

    For the one about those crazy fly away hairs shine serum works so well! I use some cheap drug store one to slick my hair back for ballet and it works really well. It doesn’t weigh your hair down too much and it makes the short fly away hairs stick with the rest if your hair (but without being all hard and gross like gel is). Or just don’t wash your hair for a couple days… It has a similar effect.

  • nola August 20th, 2014 12:18 AM

    so, what kind of great clothes can be found at Party City, anyway? I’m consumed by curiosity.

  • DarcyEmma August 20th, 2014 5:07 AM

    This is so great (and so are biore strips – a product that actually CAN be bought in Australia).

    I have shocking acne – I ended up having to go to a doctor, but before I did that, this cleanser from the Body Shop was the only thing that improved my skin.

  • Aurora August 20th, 2014 6:11 PM


    Step one: buy a cheap toothbrush.
    Step two: spray that thang with hairspray.
    Step three: use hairspray-soaked toothbrush to brush flyaways down.
    Step four: look awesome.

  • herdinthehalls August 20th, 2014 6:49 PM

    Whenever I saw old Victorian (or even turn of the century) style hair I always wondered about the processes people did to style it that way. Is the Gibson Girl style hair really secure? I have to find more simple updo styles. I’m kind of stick of always doing a pony or a bun because my hair is thick and hard to style. Back when Rookie did the beehive video, I tried for days to get the same look, but gave up because it used too many (like, 20) bobby pins and STILL didn’t work.
    This looks cool though, so maybe I’ll try it for Halloween.

  • reignthegirl August 20th, 2014 8:53 PM

    i used to suffer from acne. and when pms arrives, occasionally do now .
    from what i found organic and natural skin care lines worked better for me than any other skin care range such as neutrogena or keihls and clinique.
    i think its important to know how to treat the skin in a holistic way. from simple and organics skin care products definitely changed my skin for the better!
    another product i found that works wonders is the mario badescu drying lotion. i put it right on (what i call) a hormonal spot or white head overnight and wash it off in the morning. it brings the redness down and the zits go away pretty fast. it helps me from picking at my face.
    oh! and the drink lots of water thing is totally true!

  • Monroe August 20th, 2014 10:55 PM

    I don’t know if this will work for anyone else, but I used to have bad acne. Then I got a sunburn, so I started applying aloe vera to my face all the time. (the colorless, 100% kind) Once my sunburn had faded enough so that I could actually tell what my skin looked like, I realized my acne was gone. Completely gone. My skin was blemishless and almost glowing! Its not uite as perfect now, but my bad acne never really resurfaced. I’m pretty sure it was the aloe vera that did it.

  • Natalie August 21st, 2014 1:04 PM

    Nooooo. Ok Jane I love you and worship all of your advice but no no no to the Biore pore strips. They can really really put you at risk of broken capillaries and damaged pores.

    Also! They don’t work. Most people look at their nose and think they see blackheads when they are actually looking at sebacious filaments (and often they are just as dark as blackheads which makes things confusing). That gunk you see on the pore strip? Typically from sebacious filaments.

    The problem with sebacious filaments is that they are permanent, they are more visible on people with oily skin and/or large pores (although everyone has them) and they never go away. That’s why a lot of the time when you use a strip like that or extract them they are back in just a few days. So when they are being extracted over and over what typically happens is you just stretch out and/or damage the pore, making them even more visible!

    The best thing you can do to reduce visibility is use an alcohol free bha exfoliant (salycilic acid) with a ph of around 3. Paulas Choice has some good producs, stridex in the red box is also a good cheap one as well (warning, stridex has menthol which can be harsh on sensitive skin). These products work on blackheads too (although you can also gently extract those after steaming your face, if you want).

    • Natalie August 21st, 2014 1:06 PM

      Also with the cleanser, it helps to remember that even if you wash for a minute it’s not on your skin long enough (should be about 15 minutes typically) to do anything so avoid stuff with active ingredients or harsh products. Cleansers should be as gentle and basic as possible, all they need to do is clean away dirt and grime from the outside world, without causing extra acne. Anything else is best as a topical product that can stay on your skin for at least 15 minutes (so, salycilic acid for clogged pores and acne, benzoyl peroxide for active acne, ahas for exfoliating, etc).

      Sorry to pile so much info here but I had terrible acne and skin for years and years and years before finally clearing it and I wanted to share what I’ve learned.

  • Cosmo Beatrix August 21st, 2014 3:54 PM

    I have really bad under the skin acne, across my forehead/temples and on my cheeks, whilst mostly black heads on my nose, t-zone and and chin….

    It’s so time consuming (not to mention money consuming!) worrying about it and focusing on it every time i look in the mirror….I have yet to find a solution :( even after visits to different dermos/ trying the less is more method, the more is more method, pills – everything!! my mum continues to say it’s a phase and that it’ll pass but its been soooo long – like 5 years, its so irritating! i feel everyones pain with this prob xxxxoo

    • Blou August 29th, 2014 11:26 PM

      My skin often looks exactly like you are describing, and has for years – lots and lots of little skin colored bumps all over my forehead. You mentioned that you’ve seen dermatologists, but if you’ve never tried it I really recommend a chemical peel. I’ve had a couple done over the years and they work wonders on fixing up my skin. Only warning – I look a bit red and peel a bunch the few days after I get one. Different places charge very different amounts, and in my experience a spa is about $90 and at the dermatologist is about $50-75.

      Also, think about maybe changing the food you eat? I find cutting out or minimizing diary products usually helps, as can eating wheat free. :) I hope you find something that works I totally understand how annoying it all is.

  • Erin. August 23rd, 2014 5:39 PM

    I’ve pretty much accepted the fact that I will always have acne. I started getting pimples when I was ten (blackheads at age nine). Over a decade later, the mega-pimples don’t occur as often, but the whiteheads have stepped up their game, and the blackheads are holding their ground strongly, haha. Whatever. I’ve tried different stuff over the years, even actual prescription stuff, but nothing has ever seemed to make a difference. Like DarcyEmma, I currently use the tea tree stuff from the Body Shop, because it’s just about the only thing that doesn’t make my skin feel sticky and gross. Also it smells good, not all chemically like most of the stuff out there.

    But weirdly, I find that my face actually clears up a bit when I’m on my period, but it could be that my hormones are slightly odd (I have a theory that my estrogen levels are lower than average; is that even a thing?).

  • meikristen August 29th, 2014 10:25 PM

    Thanks Amy Rose for the black lips tutorial/post! I’ve been DYINGGG to try black lips, but could never figure out where to get black lipstick and also the courage hahaha. I’m a senior in high school, and although anyone can take chances whenever they want, I decided that it’s high time to ~follow my dreams~, try to let go of what others think, etc. Suffice to say, I just bought a matte black lipstick online and I cannot WAIT to douse my kisser in it