It had been six months since Janine Wheatley's last haircut. She wanted to change her look yet still preserve the length of her bouncy, albeit grown-out, asymmetrical bob.
So instead of a complete snip, snip, snip, Wheatley's Plume stylist, Jenni Nguyen, strategically cut her a pair of just-over-the-eyebrow bangs that perfectly framed the hospitality professional's face.
As Wheatley, 26, twirled in her chair at the Fishtown beauty salon, she smiled.
"I like them. I like them a lot," she said. "This is going to help me get through that weird, in-between phase, and I feel like I have a new look."
Wispy or full, choppy or straight, centered or to the side, bangs are back on the style scene, breathing new life into boring bobs and blunt cuts. Even shorter haircuts like blond covergirl Agyness Deyn's or Rihanna's punky Mohawk are benefiting from bangs.
But are Philadelphians embracing them?
"Are you kidding me?" asked Jason Tavares, stylist and makeup artist at Pierre & Carlo European Salon & Spa in the Bellevue. "I have had 12 clients in the last week who I just cut bangs in. I mean, I tell the girls that their foreheads are too small [for bangs] but they don't care. They just want me to cut them in."
That's because they're more than just cute. Deeper bangs can hide roots until your next dye job. Shallow bangs can help women with thin hair achieve fullness.
And while bangs may be the quickest way to give your holiday hair a festive edge this month, their comeback has been gradual.
It was two years ago that bangs - along with jewel-toned Thierry Mugler suits - made one of their first key style appearances on Kim Cattrall as Samantha Jones in the Sex and the City movie. Actress Katie Holmes soon followed up with an edgier set of bangs cut into an asymmetrical bob.
Soon actresses and crooners from Eva Longoria and Jada Pinkett Smith to Alicia Keys and Kate Beckinsale were wearing full bangs that tickled their eyebrows, and in some cases, the bridges of their noses.
This fall Naomi Campbell peered through bangs in glossy advertisements by haute-couture furrier Dennis Basso. Nicole Richie turned her bangs into a mom-to-be must-have in ads for her A Pea in the Pod clothing line. And they have been the most noticeable accessories on models in Gucci and Prada ads. (Some bangs are detachable, a la those of Tyra Banks.)
But it's the bangs on the twentysomethings such as Taylor Momsen and New Moon star Kristen Stewart that are giving bangs their modern yet girl-next-door look.
Just last week, pop singer Katy Perry accepted her Grammy nomination wearing past-the-shoulder-length extensions topped off with bangs. Her new look was a hot topic in the blogosphere.
"These bangs are a way for young artists to express themselves," said Plume's Nguyen, who says she's seen an uptick in customers wanting bangs, especially college students. "They provide an innocent look, yet they are edgy at the same time."
I wore bangs in the 1980s, but they were a far cry from blunt. At night I set them on pink sponge rollers and spent much of the day twisting them around my fingers and on pencils to prevent my pressed tresses from falling past my nose. My bangs' worst enemy was rain.
But these days, thanks in part to weaves, relaxers, and extensions, all women can achieve those wonderful blunt fringes that perfectly frame the face.
As I sat watching Nguyen work her bang magic while listening to a band that sounded similar to the Beatles in their "Yellow Submarine" days (synchronous, no?), she shared tips on how she gives a bang-up bang job.
Always cut bangs dry. Determine the desired fullness of the bangs and cut hair in sections. At this point, some stylists may add a little color for pizzazz in between layers.
While many women want blunt bangs that go straight across the forehead, Nguyen says she prefers to cut bangs that frame the face for a softer, more modern look.
Whatever look Nguyen is sculpting, the trick is to cut slowly.
"Once you take it off," she says, "you can't put it back on."