Forget Botox; looking younger may be one haircut away.

The key: bangs.

Jody Gjerseth, senior stylist at Marianne Strokirk Salons in Chicago, knows the anti-aging power of bangs firsthand.

“It’s an instant face lift,” said Gjerseth, who witnessed the effects after she donned heavy front bangs (think Heidi Klum) about a year ago. “It made me look younger. I got carded by bouncers.”

Gjerseth initially chose bangs for a fashionable change. “I’m in the business,” she said, “and I wanted to be on top of the trends. I just decided they were fun.”

Fun, youthful and, for the most part, flattering. “Bangs look good on a lot of people,” said Amy Keller Laird, beauty director for Allure magazine, who happens to wear bangs herself. Only those with very curly hair or very round faces should avoid the style, which can range from heavy blunt bangs to wispy sideswept tresses, she said.

“They are one of those transformational things,” Laird said of bangs. “It kind of gives you an instant style.”

Not to mention a girlish freshness. Laird said bangs, which are associated with children or schoolgirls, not only connote youth but also help mask gray hairs along her part line, help hide any forehead wrinkles and crow’s feet, and help create volume, all of which combine to make women look younger.

Laird remembers going out for dinner after she and her friend both received haircuts with bangs and being asked if she wanted a Diet Coke. “The way he said it was like we were in high school,” she said.

Bangs garnered national buzz when Reese Witherspoon, undergoing a divorce, emerged wearing a striking yellow dress and new haircut with bangs to the Golden Globes last year.

“Everyone took note,” Laird said, adding that Anne Hathaway also sported bangs as part of her stylish makeover in “The Devil Wears Prada.”

Laird, who said the September issue of Allure will feature a story involving bangs, said the hair trend has legs.

That’s good news for fashion designer Maria Pinto, who, amid designing outfits for Michelle Obama and launching her first retail space in August, is enjoying her recent foray into bangs.

“The feedback was amazing,” she said, about friends and colleagues who complimented her haircut. And it gets better. “Everyone says that I look younger.”

(c) 2008, Chicago Tribune.

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Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.



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PHOTO (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099).

AP-NY-08-05-08 1501EDT

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