Like your clothes, haircuts are not one size fits all. But unlike your clothes, you can’t cut your hair after a day of abuse from your coworkers.
That is why, before going under the hairdresser’s scissors, it helps to know which styles best suit your face shape. After all, an extra inch here or a handful of facial hair can make all the difference.
What face shape am I?
But how can you determine the shape of your face? It’s simple. First, arm yourself with a flexible tape measure. Then take the following measurements, recording them as you go.
- Forehead: Measure across your face from the top of an arch of eyebrow to the top of the opposite arch.
- Cheekbones: Measure across your cheekbones, starting and ending at the sharpest part under the outer corner of each eye.
- Jawline: Measure from the tip of your chin below your ear to the point where your jaw tilts upward. Multiply that number by two to get your jaw measurement.
- Face Length: Measure from the center of your hairline to the tip of your chin.
Once you’ve taken these measurements, note which one is the largest of the four, then compare it to the top seven profiles to find out where your face is.
- Oval: The length of the face is greater than the width of the cheekbones, and the forehead is larger than the jaw. The angle of the jaw is rounded rather than sharp.
- Rectangle: The length of the face is the largest measurement. The forehead, cheekbones and jawline are similar in size.
- Triangular: The jawline measures longer than the cheekbones, which measure larger than the forehead.
- Round: Cheekbones and face length have a similar measurement. They are larger than the forehead and jaw, which are also of a similar measurement. The jaw angle is soft and much less defined.
- Heart: The forehead is longer than the cheekbones and jawline. The chin is pointed.
- Square: All the measurements are quite similar. The angle of the jaw is sharp rather than rounded.
- Diamond: Face length measures greatest. Next, in descending order: the cheekbones, the forehead and the smallest is the jawbone. The chin is pointed.
How to choose the right haircut for your face shape
Quick jump: Oval | Square | Rectangle | Round | Diamond | Heart | Triangle
Haircuts for oval faces
Considered the genetic jackpot for women, an oval might not be the most alpha of face shapes for men, but it’s a good canvas for experimentation. Symmetrical and well-proportioned, an oval face shape does just about all hairstyle justice, so – lucky boy – the choice is yours.
That said, there are a few minor caveats to make sure you’re optimizing your ovality. “The trick with an oval face shape is to wear your hair across the forehead to create volume and angles on top,” says Aveda master barber Stelios Nicolaou. “The most suitable style is a classic short back and sides and slightly longer on top, with a side parting.”
You’ll also want to avoid front bangs. “Too much heaviness on the forehead softens features and increases the roundness of the face,” says famous hairstylist Jamie Stevens.
And don’t hesitate to get rid of the beard, says Ruffians Creative Director Denis Robinson. “You don’t need facial hair to fill in the disproportionate gaps in this case, so feel free to shave clean.”
Haircuts for square faces
Considered the male ideal, a square face shape is characterized by a razor-sharp jaw, uniform proportions, and an overall chiseled appearance. Grrr.
Like the oval, it’s a great base for most styles and is versatile enough to work with extremely short and longer hairstyles, from trendy cuts to French cultures to quiffs. Just keep in mind that the shorter you are, the more it looks like you’ve been drafted. Not that it won’t serve you well.
“Classic, neat haircuts complement a boxy shape best – think close fades, side partings, and short layers,” Stevens says. A bit of light stubble also gives your sharp jawline a somewhat welcome texture without blurring its line.
Haircuts for rectangular faces
The longest of the face shapes, a rectangular face falls somewhere between an oval and a square, but requires a subtly altered hairstyle so that the face doesn’t appear even longer than it is.
“Because a rectangular face looks longer, it’s important to avoid taking the sides too short if you keep the length on top, as that will only accentuate the length of the face,” Nicolaou explains. “Try a well-proportioned style that doesn’t take the sides too short or leave too much length on top.”
Following this tip, try a style that lets the hair fall to the sides and / or the forehead to add width and make sure your face doesn’t look narrower than it is.
Lastly, never associate yourself with a Duck Dynasty beard, says Robinson. “A full beard only lengthens the face, so try facial hair that ranges in length from stubble to a short beard to fill in the gaps.”
Haircuts for round faces
Circular with a rounded chin and without obvious lines or angles, a round face benefits from a haircut that gives it some definition.
“If you have a round face, think square,” Stevens says. “Since round faces have few natural angles, you have to create the illusion of structure with your hair. A style with a height on top that is tight on the sides, like a pompadour or flat top, works well for adding structure, as do front bangs.
“Square corners in the hard recession area of your hair will refine any soft edges,” Robinson adds. “A full square beard will also help lighten the chin area, giving the appearance of a more chiseled jawline.”
Haircuts for diamond faces
Narrow in the chin and forehead, with width in the cheeks, diamond is one of the rarer face shapes. For this reason, it has specialized requirements to ensure that it wears its namesake.
“Hairstyles that add width to the forehead and chin are your best bet,” Stevens says. “Bangs work well for adding texture to the forehead, while longer styles that can be tucked in behind the ears are great for accentuating bone structure in a diamond shape.”
However, don’t take the sides too short – given the width of the cheekbones, a particularly short hairstyle on the sides will only make it look taller.
Softer lines and layers are better for this face shape, by softening its natural angles. Try a side sweep or deep side parting and consider growing a shadow at 5 o’clock if you want to add size to a narrower chin.
Haircuts for heart shaped faces
Wide at the temples and hairline, gradually tapering to a point at the chin, the heart shape (quite rare) benefits from some optical illusions to make it appear more proportionate.
“Avoid very tight cuts because they will accentuate the narrowness of the chin and the width of the forehead,” says Stevens. “A medium length swept look is the safest bet.” Mid-length and long hairstyles that are kept reasonably thin and light soften the strong heart-shaped forehead.
Facial hair is also essential here, adding much-needed volume to a narrow chin and jawline, Robinson says. “As with the diamond face shape, a beard helps a heart shape grow in the lower, narrower half of the head.”
Haircuts for triangular faces
Due to its narrow forehead and wide jaw, a triangular face requires the opposite treatment of a heart shape.
“Style with volume is king with this one,” Stevens says. “Go for longer, nose-down hairstyles with fuller sides, which help add depth.”
When it comes to beards, the most you will look great with is a bit of light stubble. But really, given the prominence of the jawbone in this case, it’s best to keep a clean shaven. Take the razor, guys.
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