What I’ve Learned About the Highs (and Lows) of Getting a Fringe
Flicking through my mum’s old photo albums, it’s apparent that there’s never *really* been a time that my round, moon of a face has not been framed by a full fringe.
“Your hair didn’t really do much when you were a toddler,” she tells me, relishing the grainy snaps of my chubby former self.
“Is that why you decided to take the kitchen scissors to it and give me a Lego haircut?” I reply, pointing at the wonky botched job in the photo.
She giggles, but I blame all of life’s hardships on that dodgy do she gave me when I was four. But even when I had more say on the matter, the fringe stuck around.
You see, as much as I looked forward to a visit to the hairdresser, it was also a source of anxiety and fear. Not only did I dread the awkward hair rinse and the stiff neck I’d get as a result, but I would also feel overwhelmed by the seemingly infinite choices available to me.
Should I keep the length? Should I feather it? How about layers? Should I cut it all off? Or should I have a slick, 90s centre parting?
“The usual?”, they’d ask, and I’d just nod my head in resignation. Why did I even entertain the idea of change when I knew I’d just get the same old style as I had for years?!
The real turning point for me was when I went to university. I’d love to tell you that I finally became spontaneous and impulsive but, the truth is, I couldn’t afford to get haircuts on the regular, so I let the fringe grow out.
The struggles of growing out your fringe
At first, it was really tricky. It wasn’t long enough to tuck behind my ear or sweep over to the side, but it was long enough that it’d agitate my eyelashes every time I blinked.
I used to get so frustrated with it, especially when I was trying to read or write, that I’d end up getting a clip and pinning it back – which although temporarily solved the problem, also made me look like a diehard Lauren Conrad fan.
Worst still was when it grew even longer and it’d turn into curtains, like a cross between Aaron Carter and Jamie Mitchell from EastEnders. It was especially rife in the summer when my forehead would get all sweaty and the humidity would make it part like the Red Sea.
It’s something that Alice Bardgett, hair colourist and fellow fringe fanatic of London’s Aitch SE24 salon, stresses: “Clips, slides, headbands and braids are your friend.
“Those with short hair or those with layers can grow out a fringe rather quickly. Be patient and enjoy the different styles you can have in the process.”
Hair stylist James Hallahan agrees. “It takes a long time [to grow it out] so think hard,” he says. “If you have really long hair, it’s a long way to go to grow it back to one length.”
Giving in to temptation
Despite my valiant efforts and the struggle I had endured for the better part of a year, come autumntime I did the unthinkable: I got out the scissors and cut myself a fall fringe again.
Why, you ask? The same reason you – yes, you – are contemplating the look. I got swept up in the romance of it all and thought it was… festive.
Even to this day, as I rewatch Gilmore Girls for the umpteenth time, I will get a little twitch when I see Rory’s chestnut brown bangs; If Zooey Deschanel pops up on my feed, I’ll start flopping my ponytail over my head so that I can picture what it’d be like to have a fringe again.
I’ll be lying in bed when I get a sudden flashback to Kendall Jenner’s edgy look at the 2015 AMAs, and try out dubious Snapchat filters purporting to make me look like the supermodel.
But the truth is, pals, it never turns out like that. Ever.
Unless you are a mega-rich celebrity with a team of stylists and an abundance of great wigs at your disposal, the fringe dream is futile. And the process of returning to your former look is just as excruciating.
What to consider before you get a fringe
Even on a daily basis, maintenance is key.
Stylist Jordan Moody explains; “If the fringe is above the eyebrows and sits flat, you can blow dry it roughly with a hairdryer, keeping the angle of airflow down. You’ll definitely need to invest in a round brush!”
Bardgett recommends you not only consider how your hair sits naturally and the upkeep, but also the colour. “Blonder fringes always look lighter on the face. When you get balayage think about whether you want lightness in your fringe or if you want a bolder, darker fringe for more drama.
“As the hair is on your face it’s even more important to think about your colouring – eyes, skin and features. Talk to your colourist for advice.”
Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that there aren’t advantages to having a fringe. It’s a super cute look and it can knock several years off your age (“I’m sure it’s why I still get IDd at thirty,” Bardgett adds).
But the idea that a fringe is fuss-free is pure and utter nonsense. It takes dedication, time and, above all things, patience.
By all means, take the plunge should you wish, but when you’re bored and can’t be bothered with it in a few months’ time, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
We’ve all either gone for the chop or, at the very least, considered getting a fringe cut (I mean, some of us have even been brave – or silly enough – to grab the scissors and cut our own!)
And, while a fringe can knock years off you and look super cute, it doesn’t come without its downfalls.
Stringy sections when it’s windy, stuck to our face when it rains, and don’t even get me started on the trials and tribulations of the greasy fringe (first world problems, eh).
While celebs have their hairstylist on hand at all times to make sure their fringe is behaving, we mere mortals (unfortunately) don’t have that luxury.
A fringe can take *quite* the upkeep, and investing in the right tools is essential. When it comes to growing it out, clips, headbands and hairstyles like braids will become your BFF.
But, if you’re keen on going for the chop, don’t let us put you off… Just don’t say you weren’t warned!
Meet the experts
Managing and Creative Director at Aitch SE24, Jordan Moody trained at Leonard of Mayfair, then moved to John Frieda as a top stylist working with many celebrity guests and high-end clientele. He has collaborated on photo shoots with high-profile magazines and TV commercials including YSL and Chanel.
James Hallahan is a master cutter at the salon, working mainly on women’s hair before becoming a specialist in men’s hair. With a goal of making clients look and feel their best, James prides himself on his honest advice after being in the industry since 2015.
Alice Bardgett has been a hair colourist at London’s high-end salon Aitch SE24 since 2016, creating unique and personalised colours for her clients.