Why Face Shape Matters When Choosing a Hairstyle

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Haircuts by Face Shape

Hairstyles by face shape. Getty Images

No matter your face shape -- round, oval, square, heart or long -- there will be haircuts that look best on you and a few that aren't flattering (unless you're an oval, in which case you look good in practically everything).

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

It's not magic, it's just finding the right haircut.

There are other things to consider when choosing a style, like hair texture, your personality, your lifestyle and even your body type. 

How to Figure Out Your Face Shape

Before you venture further into this gallery, you need to know your face shape. It's likely you have an idea of what yours is. 

Does Face Shape Really Matter?

If you don't have an obvious face shape, ​then your face shape may not really matter in choosing a flattering hairstyle. This gallery is most helpful to women with obvious round, square, long or heart-shaped faces. Women with oval faces tend to look fine in everything and should focus on other factors in choosing a hairstyle, like hair texture and their body shape.

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Play Down the "Bad," Highlight the Good

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

With so many hairstyles to choose from that suit your face shape, where should you begin?

The basic rule of finding a great haircut for your face shape is to never highlight your problem spot and try to create the illusion that you have an oval face.

If you have a long, thin face, you should not wear hair long. Why? Long hair tends to drag a long face down.

Other examples:

  •  Round face? Avoid short curly or wavy hair that makes your round face appear rounder. The better option would be a cut that hits below the chin or longer.
  • If you have a square face, you may want to play down your strong, angular jaw. Texture, in the form of curls or choppy ends, does this brilliantly.
  • Oval faces tend to look good in everything, but their faces can appear long, so think twice before adding height on top of the head in the form of a trendy, ginormous donut bun, a teased updo or a spiky short cut. And always consider your hair texture. If your hair is thick or curly, avoid a blunt cut or risk looking like a pyramid. 
  • Heart-shaped faces tend to come with pointy chins (think Reese Witherspoon). Draw attention to your eyes and cheekbones instead. 
  • Long-faced girls should avoid long hair but can get away with it if it's cut in long layers that hit at the cheekbones and the chin. Long, wavy hair also looks good on because the waves add width to the sides of a long face. There's nothing sexier than just-out-of-the-ocean waves. 

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Which Trendy Cuts Work Best on Your Face Shape?

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

The good news is most of us can get away with the trendy hairstyles of the moment. The top hairstyle trends tend to 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.

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The Haircut That is Flattering on Everyone

One style, the so-called "Perfect Haircut," looks great on pretty much everyone. This perfect cut falls between the chin and shoulders, and it looks good wavy, curled, air-dried or blow-dried straight. 

You, too, can have this perfect haircut because it looks good on all face shapes. 

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Who Can Wear Short Hair -- And Who Shouldn't

Photos by Getty Images

Short hair tends to suit all face shapes, although each face shape has issues 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. And you typically want to avoid short cuts if you have super curly hair, unless you get a great cut.

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Is It Time You Got Bangs?

Cultura/Liam Norris for Getty

Bangs can make a boring cut edgy. They can take years off a face and they bring attention to the eyes. They are flattering on almost all face shapes.

Your goal is to get bangs that make your (insert your face shape here) appear more oval. So, for example, if you have a square face, you should avoid wide, heavy blunt bangs, which only create more angles on your already angular face. You should have your blunt bangs longer on the sides to soften the look. Bangs are really more an issue of hair texture than face shape. Curly hair doesn't work well cut above the eyes, so bangs are usually a no-no. Super wavy hair requires bangs that are long and side-swept unless you like the dated-I'm-stuck-in-the-80s-look.

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Hair Texture: As Important as Face Shape

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Your hair texture is as important as your face shape when it comes to choosing the perfect haircut. There are six basic hair textures (fine, straight, wavy, coarse, curly and frizzy) and with each one comes a slew of rules such as "curly hair doesn't look great short" and "fine hair doesn't look great long."

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Six Things to Consider When Getting a New Haircut

Haircut. Guido Mieth for Getty

Face shape is just one of six things to consider when getting a new haircut. Your personality, lifestyle and hair texture are all just as important. So are your wishes for your hair. The worst thing you can do is get a haircut that suits your face shape beautifully but doesn't feel like you.

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Why Your Body Type Matters When Picking a Haircut

Getty: Yuri Arcurs

When considering a new haircut, you may want to consider your body type. Tall women with straight hair and boyish figures could look like pinheads with a pixie haircut. If you are cute and petite, you may want to avoid super long hair which can dwarf a tiny body. You risk appearing like one of those pageant kids. You know the ones -- the 8-year-olds with extensions?

That said, never let anyone shame you into not getting a haircut that you really, really want just because it's considered by the beauty industry to be unflattering on your body type. No stylist, friend, partner or parent should ever make you feel bad for being tall, skinny, overweight or whatever.

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Does Age Matter?

gorgeous gray hair. Taxi // Getty Images

Beauty rules that put women in a box suck. Stuff like women of a certain age should cut off their hair and dye their gray hair. No and no. As long as your hair is healthy, you can wear it long and gray.

There's not a lot of information out there created specifically for older women. Learn which cuts can shave years off your look, how to pick the right styles based on your hair texture, face shape and body type and more.

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The Tricky Round Face Shape

Kate Upton with a round face. Getty Images

The round face is tricky. Typically, if you have a round face you want to make your face appear longer and 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. And her sweeping updo, pictured to the left, is perfect for adding height to her face, visually elongating it.

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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." Women with square faces tend to age better than the rest of us. While long faces just get skinnier and longer and round faces tend to get plumper, square faces tend to stay strong and angular and hide flaws like the turkey waddle.

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Uh-Oh, Can't Figure Out Your Face Shape?

Brand X Pictures for Getty Images

If, after reading this article and trying a measuring method, you still aren't sure about your face shape, chances are it doesn't really matter what your face shape is. Face shape articles are mostly written for women with strong facial shapes that they want to tone down. 

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Get the Haircut That Makes You Feel Good About Yourself

confident woman. Sam Edwards Caiaimage for Getty

When you read about hairstyles and face shapes, you may feel inundated by rules: women with long faces should never wear long hair! Got a round face? Never go short! Never wear super curly hair short. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

While these are guidelines for flattering haircuts, they are really just that: guidelines. 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, after this article, you still 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 feels is flattering. Never let anyone shame you into thinking you won't look great in (insert hairstyle here) because your face is (insert face shape here). If you have the right attitude, you can carry any haircut.