hairy situations

Can You Handle These Bangs?

Are these even bangs? Photo: @dylanchavles/Instagram, @double3xposure/Instagram

We knew 2019 would be the year of the Bang, but we weren’t expecting this year to birth an entirely new species of them. The new bangs — if you can even call them that — are sharp and chunky, more drapes than curtains. They extend past the ear, much farther than most bangs. They’re slightly unnerving. They might even slide into near-mullet territory. And they are slowly seeping into the Instagram feeds of people who generally seem cool and generally are good at pulling things off.

They’re These Bangs:

These Bangs may not even be bangs at all. Several real-life owners of These Bangs aren’t even sure what to call them. “A chunky bang? Helmet bangs?” Reese Blutstein muses on the phone with the Cut. The Atlanta-based fashion influencer recently got a fresh pair of These Bangs cut into her bob by her stylist Tara Bowen. She actually got her first, slightly less dramatic set of These Bangs back in May but went harder this time because she wanted to make her usual cropped cut more interesting (it worked).

“It’s some sort of bang …” Bowen begins, reflecting on her work. “It’s completely disconnected from the haircut, though. It’s almost like two haircuts put into one. We were thinking: How can you make a short hairstyle a little bit cooler, like there’s a little more to it?

“Side-fringe?” Sienna Scarritt, a singer and musician based in Los Angeles, brainstorms. She recently got a set of These Bangs from stylist Dylan Chavles, who’s been known to bestow the cut on clients who can handle it. “It’s kind of a fringe, but on the sides of your head instead of across it. Freak bangs? They’re freak bangs.”

Like Blutstein, Scarritt just wanted something different. “I wanted to look a little weirder than I did; to match my insides. Dylan was like, ‘What if we just hack all of this off, and then youʼll have two bobs — a little ’20s bob up here and a regular bob in the back.” They went for it, and both bobs are doing great.

“It’s just a step!” Chavles tells me when I ask her about Those Bangs. “It’s just a point of interest. It’s kind of a freaky shape. There’s something really beautiful and kind of Prohibition about it, but there’s also an aspect to it that’s really unsettling, and I like anything that’s a little unsettling.”

If you’re feeling deeply unsettled knowing this haircut exists and that people actually request it, it may be because it hits a little too close to home and you’ve worked hard to bury the embarrassing memory of it deep in the recesses of your mind. “I really like trying to re-create bad haircuts I gave myself when I was like 6. I think there’s something powerful about re-creating looking in the mirror and going, Oh shit, this was a horrible idea. I shouldn’t have done this with these scissors. A lot of my inspiration comes from people cutting their own hair and kids cutting their own hair, for sure. I saw this look on a 5-year-old,” Chalves elaborates.

“When you’re classically trained as a hairdresser, you’re told what not to do to someone’s face. That [a step] is definitely something you’re told not to do, and I think it’s nice when people still look good with half of the hair cut off their faces.” Literally everything about the step is wrong, which is what makes it so right.

Chavles is fine with your calling the step “bangs” if that helps you feel more comfortable easing into such a severe look, but for her, there’s a very clear delineation between the two. “With a step, you lose all the hair around your face — you lose any opportunity to hide, which is cool. I think bangs are there to kind of hide behind a bit. But with a step, there’s no hiding; you have to have your face out in the open.”

To get that face out in the open, Chavles typically uses the earlobe as a guiding light for the perfect, slightly-disturbing-yet-still-alluring effect. “When you hit the lobes, there’s something about it that feels medieval and kind of pre-Raphaelite; it’s something you can recognize. The second you take it past that, it completely fucks with the golden ratio in your head. You start going, Why is it doing this? It’s not supposed to look like that, which I also like doing to people, I’m not gonna lie.”

“Itʼs the best haircut Iʼve ever gotten, 100 percent,” says Lily O’Brien, an L.A.-based radio DJ and another client of Chavles’s who had a step and then some. O’Brien got hers from Chavles way back in 2006 with a separate set of Regular Bangs on top. “I was Gogo Yubari from Kill Bill for Halloween, but the bangs were too boring by themselves; I felt like I needed something on the side. I had the image in my head but wasnʼt really sure how to describe it to someone. I knew it was a weird angle to cut the hair because itʼs an anime haircut. I knew I needed to find the right person because I wasn’t even sure that could be replicated in real life.”

In terms of practicality, all step haircuts look scary and high-maintenance because they’re so precise, but everyone I spoke to said steps are actually chill once you meet them. “I kind of needed those first couple of weeks to get into it. I was like, What is going on on my head? What is happening right now? But now I’m feeling it,” says Scarritt. “Regular bangs usually don’t work well in my hair because it’s really wavy. There are always all these cowlicks and I have to blow-dry them all the time; it’s a commitment. With these, I don’t have to do anything; it’s easy to wear both ways. When it’s straight, you get this kind of mod thing; when it’s wavy, it skews more ’70s. I’ll pull the rest of my hair back in a high pony, or two little buns, and the front part frames your face.”

“It’ll just grow straight down — maybe not as blunt — but it’s definitely not a high-maintenance bang,” Bowen assures me. “It’s actually a very versatile haircut,” says Blutstein. “You don’t have to have straight hair to do it; if you really want to show it off, you can straighten it. But my hair doesn’t dry straight. You can throw a headband on there and let the bangs come out. You just have to have it long enough that it looks cool, but so you can also still tuck it behind your ears if you need to.”

“It was definitely a wake-up-and-go style,” O’Brien adds. “You don’t have to do much, yet it makes your hair look interesting every day.”

“People are starting to push the boundaries of what beauty is. I sense that shift with this cut, and all the mullets and bowl cuts you see now. Weʼre always worried about being accepted, but deep down people want to express themselves and move forward and let weird things be cool,” says Scarritt.

If you want to stick it to the Man but you’re over the mullet and not ready to go full basin, the step is the perfect first … step. “The step is almost a nudge toward the bowl cut,” says Chavles. “We’re not totally there, but it’s basically the Fisher-Price kitchen pack.” So grab your kitchen scissors, possibly a bowl while you’re rummaging in there, stand in front of a mirror, and start hacking away. The world is ending, the aliens are coming, and hair (usually) grows back, after all. Time to look weird.

Can You Handle These Bangs?