A guide to determining your face shape & best hair styles
It’s hard to be objective about your own face shape and hairstyles, but we have a sure-fire way to be certain you are not letting bias influence your analysis. We’ll help you learn how to measure your face shape for accuracy, and even more importantly, how to choose the right hair styles that flatter your face.
Your face shape is the first and most important detail stylists take into account when weighing-in on which hair styles will enhance your look. Your hair type is a quick second and your facial features (i. e. wide set eyes, big or small nose) a third. Your hair type is easy enough to assess with the possibilities being straight, wavy, curly or kinky, with a texture of fine, medium or thick. But determining a face shape is not so cut and dry.
In general, faces are not perfect ovals, hearts, squares, etc., and underlying bone structure plays a role in how the face appears three dimensionally. However, normally one (or two) of these geometric shapes is dominant in any given face shape.
There are countless suggestions on how to decipher which geometric shape your face most closely resembles. These include everything from outlining your face on a mirror with lipstick, to draping your face with a towel and asking others to help identify what face shape best fits you. But, there is actually a scientific way to decode your face shape with surprisingly great accuracy.
How to Determine Your Face Shape
Measure your face using a tape measure or ruler.
- Measure your face across the top of your cheekbones from end to end. Write down the measurement.
- Measure your jaw line from the widest point to the widest point. Write down the measurement.
- Measure across your forehead at the widest point. Generally the widest point will be somewhere between your eyebrows and your hairline. Write down the measurement.
- Measure from the tip of your hairline to the bottom of your chin. Write down the measurement.
Your face shape is Oval if-
The length of your face is equal to approximately one and a half times the width of your face.
Your face shape is Round if-
Your face is roughly as long as it is wide and your jaw line is more rounded than square.
Your face shape is Oblong if-
Your face is nearly twice as long as it is wide and your jaw line softly tapers.
Your face shape is Rectangular if-
Your face is nearly twice as long as it is wide and your jaw line is square.
Your face shape is Heart if-
Your face is widest at the cheekbones and/or forehead and narrows at the jaw line.
Your face shape is Square if-
Your face is about as wide as it is long and your jaw line is more squared than rounded.
Your face shape is Triangular if-
Your face is widest at the jaw line and narrows at the temples.
Your face shape is a Diamond if-
Your face is widest at the cheekbones and narrows about evenly at the forehead and jaw line.
The Oval Face Shape
An oval face shape is only slightly narrower at the jaw line than at the temples, with a gently rounded hairline.
Your face shape is well-balanced and evenly proportioned so you have a large variety of hair styles that agree with you. Choose from short pixie cuts, to mid-length bobs, to shoulder skimming cuts and long layered styles with or without bangs. Have fun and experiment! Your hair type, lifestyle issues and which facial features you want to play up (or down), will also be determining factors of which hair styles suit you best.
- Your best looks are hair styles that sweep off your face and expose your ideal features. Most ovals look fabulous with slicked-backed looks too.
- Avoid hair styles that crowd or cover up your face. Heavy bangs and too much hair on your face can give the illusion of added weight, and one length hair worn on the face can make it appear long and narrow. (I have written an article about the importance of keeping the hair away from your face. Check it out)
The Oblong/Rectangular Face Shape
Oblong and rectangular shaped faces are roughly about twice as long as wide and they are about the same width at the forehead as they are at the jawbone. These face shapes differ mostly in the chin line. Oblong faces have a slightly narrow, tapered jaw line, whereas a rectangular face has a more squared jaw line. The hairline on either of these face shapes may be squared or rounded.
You can wear more than a few styles! Your most flattering hair styles are generally short to medium layered cuts. Lengths from just under the ears to the chin line are ideal for creating fullness at the sides of long faces and shortening the appearance of length, especially when paired with bangs. Shoulder length hair or above with added layers will allow for maximum movement and fullness.
- Bob hair styles of all kinds flatter, longer face shapes. Layered bobs with waves or curls add softness and fullness to the long lines of your face and inverted, stacked, or A-line bobs give a complimentary three dimensional look.
- Try side-swept, razored, or texturized bangs.
- A short crop cut with wispy bangs is an ideal look to offset a longer face shape. Wispy bangs shorten the visual appearance of the face and the longer layers of a crop cut add fullness.
- Layered cuts add softness to the straight lines of your face.
- Try side or center parts and you may like straight back styles as well.
- Steer clear of long, smooth one-length styles. When your hair grows past your shoulders, there is a good chance it’s doing you no favors. One-length hair makes the face appear longer and narrower. If you choose to wear it long, wear layers you can style for fullness and softness around the face.
- Too much height on top lengthens the face.
- Blunt bangs tend to look severe on rectangular faces as they mirror the square lines of the jaw.
The Round Face Shape
A round shaped face is approximately as tall as it is wide with the widest point being at the cheeks and ears. The cheeks have a soft fullness and the jaw line is rounded.
The round face shape is probably the most misunderstood face shapes of all. This is an angelic face shape; like cherubs! But, most women with a round shaped face believe it to be more of a curse than a blessing. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
- Short pixie haircuts with plenty of texture.
- Texturized edgings to soften the outline of any haircut.
- Styles swept off the face.
- Haircuts with fullness and height at the crown for an illusion of length.
- A deep side part or an off center part; both give a flattering asymmetrical effect to round faces.
- Long layered hair styles vs. Long one length hair.
- Mid-length layered hair styles vs. one length hair.
- Cuts that combine height on top with sides and back relatively closer to the face.
- Avoid chin length bobs styled full and round.
- Hair styles with fullness near the cheeks and ears. Since this is the widest area of your face, any added fullness here makes it appear wider.
- Avoid a center part. It tends to emphasize roundness as it draws a line down the middle of the face, cutting it into two symmetrical half circles.
- Hair styles with straight blunt bangs.
The Square Face Shape
A square shaped face is approximately as tall as it is wide with a strong, square jaw line and sometimes an equally square hairline. The sides of the face appear straight from temple to jaw bone.
When it comes to designing hair styles for square face shapes, a good objective is to keep the face from appearing shorter or wider than it is naturally. This can be done by where volume and length are emphasized in the haircut. Also, curls or waves create an overall softer look by breaking up the appearance of straight lines or squareness, and create a nice balance to the straight features of your face. If your hair just won’t bend, consider a body wave or perm to do the trick.
- Try short-to-medium length layered hair styles with height on top..
- Light wispy bangs see-through bangs to soften the angles of a square face.
- Side swept bangs breakup angular lines.
- Off-center parts with height at the crown.
- Layers and wispy looks around the face.
- Updos with hair swept off your face
- Avoid pin straight hair styles that accentuate the straight lines of your face.
- Stay away from straight bangs which shorten the length of the face and mirrors the squareness of the jaw line.
- Avoid center parts which accentuates the symmetry of your face.
- Stay away from straight one-length hairstyles ending at the jaw line. A layered bob hair style works, however, it looks best when it ends above or below the jaw line.
The Heart Face Shape
The heart-shaped face is wide at the temples and hairline, narrowing to a small delicate chin.
If you have a heart face shape you have great cheekbones to emphasize! Consider chin-length hair or longer. Styles that have fullness from the chin line and below work to give fullness to this part of the face.
- Side parts and hair that is swept-forward around the upper part of the face.
- A chin length bob to accent your gorgeous cheekbones! This creates balance by giving fullness where you need it.
- You can wear shorter hair styles, however, if you are a dramatic heart leave weight in the back nape area. This will create balance between your dramatic cheekbones and narrow chin.
- Long layered hair with waves or curls below the chin line.
- Short, full styles that emphasize the upper face.
- Too much height at the crown gives the appearance of a longer, narrower chin.
- Severe, slicked back looks.
- Short, full hair styles with tapered necklines. This shape puts too much emphasis at the widest part of your face and often appears top-heavy
The Triangular Face Shape
The triangular-shaped face is the reverse of the heart-shape with a fuller, more dominant jaw line, and narrowing at the cheek bones and temples.
Wear lots of layers through the upper part of your face to create fullness there. Wearing hair styles which are full at the temples and taper at the jaw line create a balance that can be striking in accenting features otherwise understated.
- Short hair with fullness from the cheekbones and above. This works to balance a full jaw line.
- Long styles worn swept off the face.
- Wedge haircuts with fullness from the ears and up.
- Try tucking your hair behind your ears, as this will draw attention to your eyes and give the illusion of more width in this area.
- Avoid long, full hair styles that stop near the jaw line.
- Center parts—off-center are much more flattering to triangular-shaped faces.
- Stay away from hair styles with too much height at the crown.
- Avoid putting most of the weight of a hair cut from the jaw line to the shoulders. This gives the appearance of more width in that area.
The Diamond Face Shape
The diamond-shaped face is a cross between a heart and an oval face shape. This shape is widest at the cheekbones or temples, and narrows similarly at the forehead and jaw line.
A diamond face shape is balanced as an oval face is, but with more dramatic lines from cheekbones to chin. Almost everything works with your face shape so have fun and experiment with a variety of hair styles! However, if you have a dramatic diamond shape with high prominent cheekbones narrowing to a small chin, consider leaving some hair in the nape or chin area to create more fullness and balance between your cheekbones and more delicate chin line.
- Any length bob cut; layered, stacked or one length.
- Stay away from too much hair on your face, which will hide your dramatic features.
Matching face shapes and hair styles just right is one of the most important beauty secrets. Hopefully these tips will help you get it right once and for all.
Barb Quinn on Google+