Why Face Shape Matters When Choosing a Hairstyle

Updated 06/01/19

No matter your face shape, there will be haircuts that look best on you and a few that aren't as flattering. This may be why you have been less than excited in the past with an otherwise perfect hairstyle.

The key to a flattering hairstyle is finding one that creates the illusion that you have an oval face. There are cuts that help make a round face appear longer, a long face appear wider, a square jaw appear softer, for instance. There are also cuts that make large foreheads and double chins basically disappear.

While face shape is one thing to consider, there are other factors that should play into your decision. When choosing a style, take into account your hair texture, personality, lifestyle, and your body type as well.

It can be confusing what all that expert hairstylist lingo really means, so we wanted to shed light on the different lengths and styles that best complement your face. To clarify these guidelines, we went to some of the best stylists in the biz for their expertise. Keep scrolling for all the information and advice they offered.

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Finding Your Face Shape

Many people have a distinct face shape. They are generally categorized into six shapes: oval, long, square, round, diamond, and heart-shaped. If you can't tell by looking in a mirror what shape you are, there is a way to measure the face that can point you in the right direction.

If you try that and still aren't sure about your face shape, chances are it doesn't really matter what your face shape is. Beauty advice about face shapes is primarily designed for women with strong facial shapes that they want to tone down. Generally, it's most helpful for women with obvious round, square, long, or heart-shaped faces.

Women with oval and diamond faces tend to look fine in everything. You might want to focus on other factors like hair texture and body shape. The same applies if you don't have an obvious face shape.

Maybe your personality or the length of your hair is more important to you. If you have a distinct hair texture like super fine or very curly, exploring flattering cuts for that may be a better road to take. Remember, too, that everyone is different and you don't have to follow every beauty rule in the book.

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Highlight Your Fave Features

Since there will be many hairstyles that suit your face shape, it may be difficult to know where to begin. The basic rule of finding a great haircut for your face shape is to highlight your best features.

According to the "rules," there are a few features to look for:

  • Heart-Shaped Face: Try to draw attention to your eyes and cheekbones with bangs or volume along the sides.
  • Long Face: The longer your hair is, the longer it will make your face look. It's often best to go with shorter styles or those that have plenty of volume. Bangs are great as well.
  • Oval Face: Nearly every hairstyle flatters this shape. If yours is on the longer side, follow some of the suggestions for long faces. Finding a good style for your hair texture is probably more important.
  • Round Face: Some of the better options include haircuts that are below your chin. With curly or wavy hair, going too short may add more width to the cheek area. Short styles that add volume on top can elongate your face.
  • Square Face: You may want to play down a strong, angular jaw. Texture, in the form of curls or choppy ends, does a brilliant job at this.​
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Do What Makes You Feel Best

When you read about hairstyles and face shapes, you may feel inundated by rules. While these are guidelines for flattering haircuts, they are really just suggestions. The secret to looking gorgeous is really in one's attitude. The last thing you want to do is get a haircut that makes you feel unlike yourself.

If you want a haircut that doesn't abide by the "rules" of your face shape, then, by all means, get that haircut. How you feel about yourself always trumps what the beauty industry thinks is flattering. If you have the right attitude, you can carry any haircut.

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Get Inspired by Trends

The good news is that almost all of the trendiest hairstyles can look great on all face shapes. Bobs do. Shoulder-length cuts really do. Bangs do. Long hair does. Even the pixie works on most face shapes.

With each of these types of cuts, there may be elements that would be more flattering on you. If you have your heart set on a certain cut, tell your stylist. The two of you can work on finding the best style within the cut that suits you best.

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A Universally-Flattering Cut

Jenna Dewan

Jason Merritt and Steve Granitz/Getty Images

If there is one style that looks great on almost everyone, this is it. Some people call it the "perfect haircut" because it is so flattering on all face shapes and hair textures. It can also be styled to fit your personality and lifestyle.

This universally flattering cut falls between the chin and shoulders. It looks good straight, wavy, curled, air-dried, or blow-dried straight.

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What About a Major Chop?

Charlize Theron, Kate Mara, and Scarlett Johansson

Getty Images

Short hair tends to suit all face shapes, although each face shape has things to consider when going short. Round faces, for example, can look rounder with the wrong short cut, but some short haircuts can look simply amazing.

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Choosing Bangs

Dakota Johnson

Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

 

Bangs can freshen up an ordinary cut. They can take years off a face and they bring attention to the eyes. Better yet, bangs are flattering on almost all face shapes.

Again, your goal is to get bangs that make your face appear more oval.

If you have a square face, try cutting your blunt bangs longer on the sides or opt for side-swept bangs. Both are flattering options that will help to soften your features.

Bangs are really more an issue of hair texture than face shape. Curly hair and super wavy hair are two of the biggest concerns with bangs, but that doesn't rule them out entirely.

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Round Face Shapes

Chrissy Teigen

JB Lacroix/Getty Images

Round faces are vibrant and have a healthy look. Yet, many women who have a round face want to make their face appear longer, leaner, and less round.

According to celebrity hairstylist Sarah Potempa, if you have a round face, you want to create height and length. "A hairstyle with longer layers will make your neck and face appear more slender," she explains. Celebrity hairstylist Kristan Serafino also recommends a center part, long bob, and short cut with a full top. "Avoid harsh angular styles, tight curls, and thick bangs that all shorten the appearance of the face," she says.

This does not mean that you cannot go short with a round face. Pixies with plenty of volume and long bobs are also very flattering.

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Square Face Shapes

Keira Knightley

Jerod Harris/Getty Images

Square faces photograph the best. Apparently, the angles of the jaw and the cheeks mean square faces don't photograph "flat." This shape looks great with side-swept bangs and shoulder-length hair. Both of these can soften some of the stronger features of this shape.

Angileri says a tousled bob works well with a square-shaped face since it emphasizes layers and will de-emphasize squareness. Serafino also notes that styles that soften a wider forehead and jawline are ideal: "The best hairstyles will soften the edges of the face line with wispy layers, sweeping side fringe, and volume at the crown of the head."

Women with square faces tend to age better as well. Square faces tend to stay strong and angular.

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Long Face Shapes

Kristin Wiig

Jason LaVeris/Getty Images

Long faces are lean and offer many style possibilities. It's a shape that looks fabulous with extra body on the sides, so waves and curls are a great choice. Consider adding bangs if you feel your hairline's too high. They not only shorten the face but will also highlight your eyes.

Oblong faces are best complemented with styles that have width at the cheekbones to distract from the length. Potempa suggests side-swept bangs to shorten the face. Says Angileri, "A shoulder-length haircut is the most flattering—somewhere between the chin and shoulders. You want to create width, which you can easily do with waves." Kristin Wiig's style is a perfect example of a flattering cut for long faces.

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Oval Face Shapes

Jessica Chastian

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Oval faces tend to look good in everything, so you can follow whatever hair trend you like. From pixies to shags and really long locks to short, funky styles, they're all up for grabs. To help you narrow down your options, concentrate on styles that fit your hair texture, personality, and lifestyle.

Practically unanimously, the stylists interviewed for this piece said that women with oval face shapes can sport the most versatile cuts. Potempa says long layers allow for movement, especially when waving your hair. Additionally, adding volume to the sides rounds out an oval face by adding width.

If your oval face is on the longer side, avoid styles that add height since they may elongate your face even more. These include a big bun, a teased updo, or a spiky short cut.

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Heart-Shaped Faces

Reese Witherspoon

Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

Heart-shaped faces are fun to choose hairstyles for. It's a shape that tends to have a beautiful bone structure that is neither too hard or too soft. You'll also find that many hairstyles naturally look very romantic with your shape.

According to PRO Beauty Tools' Celebrity Hairstylist Johnny Lavoy, heart-shaped faces can compensate for a wider forehead with long, face-framing layers. Potempa says bangs are a great way to conceal a wider forehead, and that styling your long layers "down and out" (e.g., curling them away from your face) helps draw away from the width of your forehead.

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