Model with bangs

How's this for a beauty riddle: When is a new haircut not a new haircut? Answer: When it's the same haircut, with bangs. Whether you get a few casual wisps, a deep side-sweep, or a brow-skimming fringe, bangs can bring a fresh style to your old cut, without a major (scary) chop. Even better, the right bangs can transform your face—minimizing a high forehead, camouflaging crow's-feet, bringing out your cheekbones, accenting your eyes. To demonstrate, we brought in hairstylist Patrick Melville, of the Patrick Melville Salon in New York City, to cut perfect bangs for four women with different face shapes and hair textures. When he was finished, there wasn't much hair on the cutting room floor, but we bet you'll agree that the transformations are a stunning example of the big impact of a small change. 

Jenny Bailly 
Softly curled bangs

Nancy: Softly Curled
Just right: Bangs that are softly turned under complement the loose curls that Patrick created with a wide-barreled curling iron. He worked a light gel through Nancy's damp bangs (try Sebastian Potion 9, $17) to help them hold their shape, then rolled a large round brush underneath them as he blew them dry from above. (This is also an effective way to deal with bangs in need of a trim.)

Avoid this: Dramatically rolled-under bangs just look goofy. So never style your bangs with a small-barreled round brush—"It'll leave them too bubbly," says Patrick. 

Top, Dior; ring, Diamonair

Eyes: Iman Luxury Eyeshadow in White Gold ($7,; Revlon ColorStay Liquid Eye Pen in Black ($9,; Rimmel London Sexy Curves Mascara ($7.50,
Lips: CoverGirl TruShine Lip Color in Cranberry Shine ($6,
Cheeks: Nars Cream Blush in Montenegro ($24,
Wispy bangs


Gunilla: Wispy
Just right: Soft, piece-y bangs camouflage forehead lines and crow's-feet, and create a frame around Gunilla's striking aqua eyes. To create this choppy effect, Patrick cut upward a bit into the lowest inch of the bangs. He also cut Gunilla's hair slightly, to chin-length, all the way around, leaving her layers a little longer in front to soften the jowl area.

Avoid this: The stark edges of strict, all-one-length bangs can emphasize lines around the eyes.

Top, Nima; earrings, Alexis Bittar 

Sephora Colorful Chrome Mono Eyeshadow in No. 1 ($6,; Sue Devitt Eye Intensifier Pencil in Pointe Noire ($22,; Neutrogena Healthy Volume Mascara in Black ($8.50,
Lips: Bourjois Lip Liner in #10 ($12,; Lancôme Juicy Tubes Gloss in Coral Rush ($18,
Cheeks: Armani Fluid Sheer in #2 and #10 ($58 each,; Yves Saint Laurent Touche Éclat in Luminous Ivory ($40,

Blunt bangs

Anna Lita: Full & Blunt
Just right: Brushing the tops of the cheekbones at the temples and falling just below the brows in the center, these full yet feathery bangs highlight Anna Lita's bone structure and give a gentle heart shape to her face. They're soft enough to blend seamlessly with the waves in her hair, "and since they're lightly layered, she can wear them straight across or push them off to the side," says Patrick.

Avoid this: Fine hair like Anna Lita's can fall flat with blunt-cut bangs. Soft layers ensure they look lush, not limp. 

Turtleneck, Michael Stars. Ring, Van Cleef & Arpels

Neutrogena Skin Soothing Eye Tints in Honey Shimmer($9,; Laura Mercier Brilliant Eye Liner in Golden ($22,; Maybelline Great Lash Washable Mascara in Clear ($4.50,
Lips: Yves Saint Laurent Pure Lipstick in Golden Copper ($29,; Estée Lauder Pure Color Crystal Gloss in Ginger ($18,
Cheeks: Almay Touchpad Blush in Pink ($9.50,

Side-swept bangs

Eli: Sideswept
Just right: A side-sweep that falls from just beneath the eyebrow to below the cheekbone de-emphasizes Eli's broad forehead and makes her round face look slimmer. For a sleek (but not flat) finish, blow bangs dry in the opposite direction of your part, then flip them back over. If you need extra smoothing, run a flatiron (a mini version, like CHI Ceramic Flat Iron, $80, makes the job easier) along the length of the shorter layers.

Avoid this: A short cut with blunt bangs makes a round face look fuller. 

Dress, Luisa Beccaria; earrings, Me&Ro

Chanel Soft Touch Eye Shadow in Lotus ($29,; Maybelline New York Lash Stiletto Ultimate Length Mascara ($9,
Lips: Laura Mercier Lip Glacé in Bellini ($22,