There may be only six common face shapes, but determining which category you fall into can be a toilsome task. How can you tell if your face is more rectangular or square? Diamond or heart-shaped? And get this: Some people have a blend of two face shapes, which makes researching the perfect haircut all the more nuanced. All the specifics can make your head spin—regardless of shape.
Of course, professional hairstylists can take one look at your bone structure and know exactly how to style your mane. So we tapped their pro tips: Here’s how to figure out your face shape match, as well as which hairstyle elements would suit you best (read: haircuts are not one-size-fits-all, but there are certain style traits that work better for certain head shapes than others).
Now, having said all of this: You really can just get whatever hairstyle you fancy. Your hair is about, well, you—not what you “think” you need to look like. But if you want to use this as a guide to help inform your decision, by all means.
The different face shapes, explained.
In terms of hairstyles, each face shape tends to have one of two action items: You’ll want to either add some definition, or you should soften out any hard angles. Consider it a balancing act for your bone structure.
Below, the six face shapes in detail, plus which haircuts and styles look best on each:
“I will share the one golden rule of styling for face shapes,” says celebrity hairstylist. Nick Stenson, artistic director of Matrix. “Focus on choosing a shape that makes you appear more ovular.” That’s because oval-shaped faces have no sharp angles, yet they have slightly curved outer edges. The forehead is also a touch wider than the chin (think of an upside-down egg). And, as Stenson alludes, these face shapes tend to pull off most hairstyles since adding or softening angles isn’t necessary.
Then we have square-shaped faces: The widest points of your face are equal to the length, and you likely have a sharp jawline. In terms of hairstyles, “Long airy layers and side-swept bangs work nicely,” says Michelle O’Connor, texture specialist and artistic director at Matrix. Essentially, you want a cut that softens up your angular features. Stenson agrees: “Square face shapes will do great with fringes and face-framing layers,” he adds.
Similar to square, the widest points of a round face are equal to the length. Only with round faces, there are no sharp angles. That said, you’ll want to add some definition and shape to your features, here. Stenson says to opt for choppy, angular looks: “Round face shapes are beautifully offset by bobs and one-side hair tucks or short pixie cuts,” he notes.
“Diamond faces are very angular,” says O’Connor (think high, high cheekbones and a pointed chin). That’s why she suggests medium-to-long layers and a deep side part to soften up the look. In terms of styling, “definition like a wave, curl, and bounce will soften those angles immensely.”
Also known as “oblong,” rectangular faces are also quite angular (similar to square-shaped faces), only they are much longer than they are wide. “Rectangular shapes tend to be flattered with feathery fringes and middle parts,” says Stenson. That way, the angles don’t seem as sharp, taking on a more ovular appearance.
Heart-shaped faces are often confused with diamond, as both have that quintessential pointed chin. However, diamond faces have a narrow jaw and hairline, whereas heart-shaped faces have that narrower jaw with a much wider forehead. And to be clear: You don’t have to have a widow’s peak to have a heart-shaped face.
For hairstyles, both O’Connor and Stenson suggest adding fullness to the jaw. “Side parts are great, and blunt bobs or lobs tend to add flattering width at or near the jawline,” Stenson notes. O’Connor mentions long, side-swept bangs will look flattering as well.
How to determine your face shape.
There are a few popular routes to take, here (the first, a tad more practical; the latter, a bit more fun). First up: Simply take some measuring tape across your face at its widest points, then measure the length. “If your face is the same width and length, it’s most likely square or round,” says O’Connor (then you can differentiate between the two depending on how sharp your angles are). “If it’s wider at the forehead, it’s most likely a diamond or heart” (check how narrow the hairline is in order to tell). And if your face is longer than it is wide? Depending on your angles—or lack thereof—you likely have an oval or rectangular shape.
If you’re looking for an entertaining way to spend an afternoon, try this other fun hack: “A great way to determine your face shape is to take a photo of yourself with your hair tied back,” O’Connor explains. Print it out, and “you can then trace the outline of your face and identify which shape it most closely resembles.” Use some colorful pens, hang it up, and call it art—you know, if you need a friendly face-shape reminder before your next haircut.
Or, Stenson says, you can stand in front of a mirror and use a dry erase marker to draw each shape, one-by-one. (Draw the shapes roughly to the size of your face, similar to the infographic above.) “Try to align your face with each shape. In doing this, you’ll be able to identify which shape represents your face structure best,” he says.
Determining your face shape is helpful for which hairstyles flatter your bone structure best. Of course, these are by no means hard-and-fast rules, as not every face is typecast exactly the same (read: two round faces can have slight nuances and look totally different with certain styles). That said, it might take some experimenting to find what suits you best—and that’s OK! Use these tips as a general guide to determine whether you should soften up any sharp angles or add some definition.
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