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 [email protected]. Please sign your email with your name/nickname/initials, age, and city.