I Got Clip-In Bangs and They Changed Everything

I got shaggy, '70s-style bangs as an experiment to see if anyone would notice that I had fake hair, and they looked so real, nobody could tell. Check out my tutorial for applying clip-in fake bangs to yourself at home, including where to buy them, how to apply them and cut them, and how to make them look natural.

Hair, Face, Blond, Eyebrow, Nose, Hairstyle, Chin, Lip, Hair coloring, Skin,
Hair, Face, Blond, Eyebrow, Nose, Hairstyle, Chin, Lip, Hair coloring, Skin,
(Image credit: Marie Claire)

I'm obsessed with the '70s. The decade has informed everything from my iTunes library to my half-thrifted wardrobe. But let's be real: No '70s vibes are complete without a proper '70s hairstyle, which is what let me to The Swag.

Steeped in badassery, The Swag haircut is a combo of feathery waves and wispy bangs (think: a shag cut made modern) that looks lethally cool on everyone. Basically, I needed this haircut. But seeing as there was no way I was about to cut choppy bangs into my frizz-happy curls, I decided to hack the look with clip-in bangs.

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Hair, Face, Hairstyle, Eyebrow, Chin, Lip, Beauty, Brown hair, Cheek, Layered hair,

Alexa Chung Swag
(Image credit: Alexa Chung Swag)
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Hair, Face, Hairstyle, Eyebrow, Chin, Lip, Beauty, Brown hair, Cheek, Layered hair,

Alexa Chung Swag
(Image credit: Alexa Chung Swag)

Though I had previously written off faux-bangs as expensive, high-maintenance, and unnatural-looking, I quickly learned during this experiment that I was totally wrong. For one, my 100% human hair, clip-in fringe cost only $22 at Wigs and Plus here in New York City (though you can also find good-quality wigs online), which is about what I spent on last night's takeout order (whoops).

And once I had the wig piece cut and lightly styled by a professional—honestly, the only semi-annoying part about the whole thing—it looked completely and totally real. Nobody (at least not to my knowledge) questioned my new bangs, and they were truly baffled when I told them the truth. It was magical.

Which is why I'm officially campaigning for every woman, no matter what kind of hair texture they have, to invest in commitment-free, clip-in bangs, because the transformation is everything. And to prove it to all you skeptics (i.e. me before this experiment), I documented the whole process, below.

Hair, Face, Hairstyle, Eyebrow, Chin, Lip, Beauty, Brown hair, Cheek, Layered hair,

(Image credit: Lauren Valenti)

To make my bangs look as realistic as possible, I left the styling process in the hands of the professionals—i.e. hairstylist Francesca DellAquila at Bumble and Bumble salon, who shampooed and conditioned the hair piece before my appointment. "When wigs are straight out of the package, they're super shiny," she explained. "Washing it first gives it a more natural-looking shine."

To avoid a 2005 curly-hair-with-straight-bangs flashback, DellAquila first blew out my curls into soft, textured waves. Then, to give the wig's built-in clip a base to hook into, she cornrowed a small braid across my hairline, close to my forehead (DIY this at home with either a cornrow, a tiny three-strand braid, or a tight twist), and secured it with a clear elastic.

Once you've got your base in place, it's pretty intuitive to clip in the bangs: Just slide 'em in. Easy, right? After the piece was secured, DellAquila cut them into that magical Swag style, using a razor to get a softer, more feathery finish.

As you can see in my before picture, I have naturally dark roots. So to keep the platinum-blonde bangs from standing out, DellAquila misted Bumble and Bumble's Brownish Hair Powder on just the roots of the clip-in, so it matched my grow-out.

Hair, Face, Hairstyle, Eyebrow, Chin, Lip, Beauty, Brown hair, Cheek, Layered hair,

(Image credit: Lauren Valenti)

The final, yet most important step to a seamless finish? Blend the two hair textures together. Using just her hands and a blow-dryer, DellAquila raked and smoothed out the bangs with her fingers to mix the bangs with my waves. Just be gentle if you do this at home: "The hair isn't attached to your head, so you can't put as much tension on it," she says.

Take a bunch of selfies and trick all of your friends, because you just got that summer Swag.

Lauren Valenti
Lauren Valenti

I’m the associate web editor at Marie Claire. I love to while away the hours at coffee shops, hunt for vintage clothes, and bask in the rough-and-tumble beauty of NYC. I firmly believe that solitude can be a luxury if you’ve got the right soundtrack—that being the Rolling Stones, of course.