Why Face Shape Matters When Choosing a Hairstyle

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Your Face and the Most Flattering Haircuts

Hairstyles by face shape
Getty Images

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.

It certainly doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you. It's just a simple matter of finding the right haircut that complements your individual features.

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.

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Discover Your Face Shape

Discover Your Face Shape
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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 your 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 the Good

Hair length
Scarlett Johannson, Audrey Tautou and Evan Rachel Wood. Getty Images

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 and try to create the illusion of an oval face.

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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Go With What Makes You Feel Good

Confident woman
Sam Edwards Caiaimage for Getty

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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Follow the Trends

Hair Trends
A model on the Fashion Week runway, Michelle Williams and Taylor Swift. Getty Images top and bottom pictures on left,

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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The Haircut That Flatters Everyone

Perfect haircut
Jenna Dewan Tatum. 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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Who Can Wear Short Hair

Short Hair
Photos by 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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Is It Time You Got Bangs?

Woman cutting hair
Cultura/Liam Norris for Getty

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. For example, if you have a square face, cut your blunt bangs longer on the sides to soften your features. Side-swept bangs are a flattering option as well.

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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The Vibrant Round Face Shape

Kate Upton
Kate Upton with a round face. 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.

Model Kate Upton has a round face and knows how to make her hairstyles work with her face shape. She typically wears her hair long and straight or slightly wavy, which is a great look for round faces. Her signature sweeping updos are perfect for adding height to her face, visually elongating it.

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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Envy the Square Face Shape

Envy the Square Face Shape
Gwyneth Paltrow and Keira Knightley. Gregg DeGuire for 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.

Women with square faces tend to age better as well. Square faces tend to stay strong and angular and hide flaws like the turkey waddle.

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The Sleek Beauty of the Long Face Shape

Long Face Shape
Asia Argento. Vittorio Zunino Celotto // 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.

While you may not want to go too long or too short, shoulder-length hair is a great choice. It also offers you the option of adding those sexy just-out-of-the-ocean waves.

If you're thinking of going short, try to keep the volume on top to a minimum.

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The Oh-So-Versatile Oval Face Shape

Oval face
Jessica Chastain. Frederick M. Brown for Getty

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 instead.

If your oval face is on the longer side, think twice before adding height on top of the head. This includes a big bun, a teased updo, or a spiky short cut. 

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The Lovely Heart-Shaped Face

Heart-Shaped Face
Keri Hilson. Jason Merritt // 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.

Bangs are really nice with this face shape, but so are long layers that fall to the side like a curtain. Both soften lines in just the right places. You can wear a cute pixie if you like and it's the perfect face shape if you love long layers.