We’ve all done it: We've shown up at our hairdresser’s or barber’s with a photo of some celebrity and said, “I want this.” After a hearty chuckle, the stylist does as we ask, but when they hand us the mirror, the cut never looks quite how we imagined it would. The problem: face shape.
The shape of our face can be a major influence on how hairstyles, eyeglasses, beard styles, even brow shapes appear. What looks great on Brad Pitt might not work for Justin Bieber—or for you. There’s a reason why only one Jonas brother dared to go long.
That’s not to say your face shape should dictate how you do your hair. It’s just that some male-identifying individuals are super into this, using their face shape as a guide to choosing a hairstyle, a beard length, or eyeglasses that fit a certain proportion. But there are those who don’t care and do what they like anyway—and if they are happy, more power to them.
As most articles involving face shape tend to cater to those who identify as female, we did the leg work to show you how to determine your face shape if you’re male-identifying, and what to do with that knowledge.
To help us get the scoop on all things face-shape-related, we gathered a group of plastic surgeons, stylists, and those in the know to share some insight into how to determine your face shape if you’re male-identifying—and how to make the most of it. We talked to plastic surgeon Smita Ramanadham, MD; plastic surgeon Roxanne Grawe of Roxy Plastic Surgery, MD; NYC-based double board-certified facial plastic surgeon Konstantin Vasyukevich, MD; dermatologist Terrence Keaney, MD; and Jason Biggs, senior master barber at Babe of Brooklyn.
What Determines Face Shape?
While we all share a more or less identical skull at the outset, Keaney explains that it’s the sex hormones (namely estrogen and testosterone) that inevitably kick in during our development that influence the growth of the skull and underlying soft tissue, ultimately determining face shape as well as the unique features and characteristics of our face. On the surface, Vasyukevich points to the forehead, cheeks, jawline, and chin as the most important structures that determine how facial shape is perceived.
How Are Male-Identifying Face Shapes Different From Female-Identifying?
Traditionally, face shape has fallen into two camps: masculine and feminine, but with new takes on gender revising such polarization, we’re looking at face shape from a more neutral perspective. Grawe claims that while female-identifying individuals more commonly have oval- and heart-shaped faces (traditionally thought of as “feminine”), male-identifying individuals tend to have boxier (“masculine”) faces that are more square-shaped, with a larger, more angled jaw and an upper and lower face that is more equally balanced than its feminine counterpart, which usually narrows toward the lower third (hence the heart shape).
Keaney adds that the male forehead tends to be higher and broader, sloping backward and ending at a prominent supraorbital ridge (that bony line that runs atop the eye area). The stereotypical male cheek is also flatter and wider. And let’s not forget the nose: While a stereotypically masculine nose tends to be straight and wide, a stereotypically feminine nose is usually narrow and concave, with a “swoop” to it.
Grawe points out that not every male-identifying individual has traditionally masculine features, and vice versa. Essentially, when it comes to face shape, there’s no such thing as an ideal.
How to Find Your Face Shape
Face shape is determined primarily by the relationship between the most prominent features of the face to each other, Vasyukevich explains; however there are no hard and fast rules or measurements involved. Rather, Ramanadham recommends paying attention to four facial dimensions:
•Forehead: The width at the widest portion of the forehead or frontal bones. Measure from the end of each eyebrow at the widest part.
•Cheeks: The width at the widest portion of the cheekbones, just below and lateral to the outer corner of the eye. Measure from widest portion of the upper cheek to the other cheek.
•Jaws: The width at the widest portion of the jaw or mandibular angles. This is typically the area in which you can feel the muscle that tightens and becomes fuller when you clench your teeth (the masseter muscle).
•Center of Face: The length measured at the center of the forehead at the hairline to the bottom edge of the chin in the center.
Now grab a mirror and find some good lighting as we show you below how to determine your face shape from the eight basic face shapes if you’re male-identifying, and what to do with that knowledge:
A round face is equal in length and width and symmetrical, with softer, more curvaceous features including the overall shape of the chin, jaw, and hairline. Neither the jaw or cheeks are defined but have a subtle, more gentle shape, explains Ramanadham.
Celebrities with round-shaped faces: Seal, Leonardo DiCaprio, Zac Ephron, Jack Black
What looks good: “Round-shaped heads are great for voluminous hairstyles, yet require more angles to offset the round shape,” Biggs says. He recommends adding dimension with pompadour styles or long quiffs with a side part. Square the beard with this look to help maintain good symmetry.
A heart-shaped face starts narrow at the chin—which is usually pointed and emphasized—and widens upward toward the forehead, which is the widest part of the face.
Celebrities with heart-shaped faces: Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake
What looks good: Biggs says it’s a good idea for heart-shaped faces to maintain some length on the top, opting for a wider, more square cut with lower volume to take the focus off the forehead while complementing a smaller jawline. A shorter beard will complement the longer locks on top.
Similar to a round face, a square face is equal in length and width but tends to be more angular, especially around the jawline. The widest part of the jaw is rather sharp and heavily defined, squaring off the bottom portion.
Celebrities with square-shaped faces: Brad Pitt, Nick Lachey, David Beckham
What looks good: Biggs says square-shaped faces look best with longer hair that accentuates its angles, such as a modern undercut that cleans up closer to the beard. As for the beard, Biggs says to keep it properly trimmed.
An oval-shaped face shape is slightly longer than it is wide, sort of like an egg. The cheekbones are the widest part of the face, while the jaw and forehead are rounded, and there is a slight curvature to all sides of the face. An oval shape is similar to a round shape, but features more prominent, angular cheekbones.
Celebrities with oval-shaped faces: George Clooney, Kanye West, Idris Elba, Justin Bieber
What looks good: “Oval-shaped silhouettes are great palates for nearly any style,” Biggs explains. He recommends a high-volume pompadour with a squared-off beard and some Aviator shades for the extra cool factor.
Quite similar to an oval face, an oblong face tends to be longer and with less width in the center. The forehead, cheeks, and jawline share the same approximate width, and with a longer, pointier chin.
Celebrities with oblong faces: Adam Levine, Jay-Z, Ben Affleck
What looks good: Biggs told us that oblong-shaped faces require a balanced style that doesn’t end up making the face look even more elongated. Among those he recommends is a pulled-back man bun, as it tends to shorten the face. For the bearded, various shapes and lengths blend well with this look.
A triangle is more or less the same as a heart, but inverted, so that the forehead is the narrowest part of the face while the jawline is the widest.
Celebrities with triangle-shaped faces: Corbin Bleu, Keith Urban
What looks good: For triangle-shaped faces, Biggs recommends a shorter hairstyle, like a buzz or a Caesar with some fringe, and a long, full beard to play well with facial dimensions.
“Rectangular faces are interesting in that they are actually a combination of two or more face shapes,” explains Vasyukevich. Essentially a long face with angular edges, rectangular faces are formed as a hybrid of the oval/oblong and square face shapes.
Celebrities with rectangular-shaped faces: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Henry Cavill
What looks good: Just like faces that are square-shaped, rectangular faces do well with longer lengths to properly drape the head. Biggs recommends trying a slicked-back style with a close skin fade, and pairing it with a natural shape beard.
The rarest of face shapes in male-identifying individuals according to Grawe, a diamond-shaped face is narrow at the forehead and jawline but widest at the cheeks, which gives it that diamond shape. Diamond-shaped faces also tend to have narrower hairlines that lend the illusion of a smaller forehead.
Celebrities with diamond-shaped faces: Johnny Depp, Ricky Martin, Robert Pattinson
What looks good: Diamond-faced guys can ace their look with a crop top or high skin fade with a fringe, Biggs says. But some length works, too. “By cutting some texture with a messy look or adding volume in the front, it smoothes out the peak of the head while maintaining style.” For the beard, he adds, “Keep it sleek and close to the jawline to emphasize the strong bone structure of the face.”
Can’t quite find your fit? You’re not alone. “Some people have some features of these face shapes, but don’t completely fit into one category,” explains Grawe, a sentiment shared by our experts. At the end of the day, the shape of your face is only as helpful as you need it to be.