Best Hairstyles for Your Face Shape
You spy a hip haircut on a top celebrity in the pages of your favorite tabloid. Cut to a week later: You leave the salon with the same ’do except it’s a disaster! Why? Because celebs adhere to one of the most overlooked beauty rules: Face shape affects everything.
It’s a piece of beauty wisdom that most Hollywood beauties know: “The shape of your face will absolutely determine what kind of style is or is not going to work on you,” says celebrity hairstylist Mitch Stone of L.A.’s Cloutier Agency, who has tended to the tresses of Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Basinger and Kristin Davis.
Fortunately, all you have to do is determine your face shape in order to avoid the hairdos that are actually hair don’ts for your type.
Are you ready to never, ever get a bad cut again?
Measure for Measure
Grab a tape measure, a piece of paper and pen. First, measure your face horizontally, starting at the top of your cheekbones. Write that number down.
Then, run the tape across your face at jaw-level. Write that number down. Measure the widest part of your forehead, just above your eyebrow line, and record that figure. Finally, run the tape measure from your hairline to the bottom tip of your chin, and write the number down.
Oval face: Your face length is about 1-1/2 times longer than the width.
Round face: Length and width are about equal.
Square face: The widths of your forehead and jawline are about equal.
Heart-shaped face: The measurements across your cheekbones and/or forehead will be the widest and your jaw will measure small and narrow.
Ode to Oval
Knowing your face shape is very important, say beauty pros, because each comes with its own guidelines and a good stylist will know these by heart.
“It’s like a painter with a canvas; as a hairstylist, you just know what lines look pretty and what lines don’t on certain shapes,” Stone says.
If you have an oval face, rejoice. Considered the “ideal” face shape for its graceful, symmetrical proportions and lack of sharp angles, the oval mug is seen on many a model. “With this shape, you can get away with just about anything, from super-short hair to very long,” Stone says.
Although both short and long hairdos work equally well on ovals, you should avoid shags and styles involving lots of strands in the face; it will only distract from your visage. “The benefit to this face shape is flexibility, Stone adds. “Experiment with a variety of looks.”
This flexibility is something that Jennifer Lopez has embraced. Whether she’s sporting traditionally long locks or short Marilyn Monroe-esque 50s curls, mane morpher Lopez looks fantastic in absolutely any style.
What’s her secret? The balanced lines of the star’s oval face! “It’s symmetry, baby. The eyes love it,” Stone explains. “Don’t ask why, just be happy if you have this face shape it can handle any haircut.”
Round Out Your Look
If you have a round face, you’re in good company: Notable actresses including Kate Winslet, Jennifer Hudson and Christina Ricci have this shape.
“A little bit of length and a little bit of height in your hairstyle are good; they’ll elongate the face,” notes hair pro Stone. “Updos are good, just be sure to leave some pieces down. I also like to cut into the hair in chunks, a layering technique that offsets the roundness,” Stone says.
Ask your stylist for chunky layers that frame the face.
This face-flattering look is exemplified by Winslet’s hairstyle in this photo [left]. Her layered and slightly teased ponytail is the perfect camouflage for her round face. “Kate’s hair is very nice because the fringe hangs down to her cheeks, leaving her chin to be emphasized so her face looks less round,” Stone says.
“What will help a round face is having more height to distract from the shape it’s all about back-combing,” Phayvanh explains. “Take horizontal sections at the top of the head and comb the hair in [a backward motion], first applying a little Bumble and bumble hairspray. Then, shape the hair into a ponytail. Teasing takes practice!”
If you share the six-time Oscar nominee’s full face and apple cheeks, a word of advice:
“For rounder faces, length is important. You don’t want the jaw to be too exposed. I wouldn’t recommend shorter than chin length,” Phayvanh says.
The key is finding an expert who knows how to make the very most of your natural assets and facial structure. "Find someone who understands face shape it’s the basics of hairstyling,” Phayvanh adds.
Another hairstyle option for a round face is a light bang. “As long as it isn’t cut too far into the temples, it will complement your face,” Stone says.
Square and Sexy
Got a square face? Easy-on-the-eyes A-listers such as Jessica Simpson, Minnie Driver and Jodie Foster share your beautiful shape. Try long layers, and give your hair some height with a teased updo and loose curls.
Don’ts for square faces include center parts with dead-straight hair, chin-length bobs and full bangs.
These all “accentuate the angular nature of your jaw,” Stone says. “It’s a strong feature so you want to soften the look and emphasize femininity. Layers and texture are the key to making you look great.”
Even someone as sexy as Simpson can have a bad hair day. A severe middle part and straight hair worn flat at the top just don’t flatter a square-shaped face! “You definitely have to hide or soften the features according to shape,” Phayvanh says. “Jessica needs height and layers. With straight hair right around her face, it would call attention to her jaw. Both square and heart faces need a lot of softening. And avoid one length it’s too extreme.”
Stone agrees. “The layers and pieces break up her strong face shape and give her a pretty look Jess, if you read this, I would date you even bald!”
Those who happen to have a heart-shaped face should rejoice you share your beautiful contours with glamour girls Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Garner!
Witherspoon’s fringed and layered look has earned an “A” from Hollywood’s top hair gurus.
“Reese’s 2007 Golden Globes hairstyle was an example of what to do,” Stone says. “Bangs soften your look overall and take attention away from a prominent chin and high forehead.” “I like the look on her the full fringe flatters her forehead and the layers help [soften] the shape of the chin,” Phayvanh says.
If you have a face shape similar to the Oscar winner’s, opt for a loose, layered look that won’t call attention to the bottom of the face. “In fact, I would have added more layers around Reese’s face to soften the look even more,” Phayvanh says. “You want to avoid sleek bobs or anything above the chin that’s not going work for a pronounced jawline.”
Other tips: Keep hair long or else bobbed to shorten the length of the face. But avoid mid-length strands, which will make your chin pointier, add fullness where you don’t need it and take it away where you do.
Geometry Isn’t Destiny
Yes, following these rules will likely result in a fabulous cut that frames your face. But when it comes to beauty, there are no absolutes.
“Everybody is different,” Stone notes. “Ninety-nine percent of us do not have a perfectly symmetrical face. Lots of people have a combination of several face shapes.” When in doubt, measure your face shape and bring it to your stylist. Stone also recommends bringing in pictures of the cut you want. The two of you can come up with a solution.
Which brings us to our last pointer: Accentuate the positive! After all, when it comes to a woman’s face, there’s always plenty of prettiness. “Most celebrities have a flaw if you look closely but they’ve learned to work with what they have,” Stone says. “There are so many new haircutting products, techniques and tools, it’s easier than ever to find a way to look great and accommodate your face shape.”
By Rachel Fischer Spalding,