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).
To find out your face shape, see What is My Face Shape? How to Tell What Face Shape You Have, then check out photos of your best and worst hairstyles:
Rule No. 1: Get the Haircut That Makes You Feel Good About Yourself
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 (that includes me) 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). Because if you have the right attitude, you can carry any haircut.
Now, onto the fun...
Play Down the "Bad," Highlight the Good
I have a long, thin face. If you scroll on down to the bottom of this page you can see it for yourself. My face is long and narrow topped off with an IMAX forehead ("Large foreheads are a sign of intellect," my friend Laura tells me. I don't believe her). Because I have a long face, I really should not wear my hair long. Why? Long hair tends to drag a long face down.
The basic rule of finding a great haircut for your face shape is never highlight your problem spot, and try to create the illusion that you have an oval face.
This means if you have a round face, you may want to avoid short curly hair that makes your round face appear rounder. The better option would be a cut that hits below the chin or longer. Learn more in this gallery of the best and worst cuts for round faces.
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. See this photo gallery of best and worst haircuts for square face shapes for other great styles for you.
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. See what works and doesn't in this photo gallery of best and worst cuts for oval faces.
Heart-shaped faces tend to come with pointy chins (think Reese Witherspoon). Draw attention to your eyes and cheekbones instead. See examples in this photo gallery of best and worst cuts for heart-shaped faces.
For us long face girls, while we should avoid long hair, we can get away with it if we cut in long layers that hit at the cheekbones and the chin. Long, wavy hair also looks good on us because the waves add width to the sides of a long face (get inspired with these photos). There's nothing sexier than just-out-of-the-ocean waves. Here's how to give yourself those coveted beachy waves. Good luck.
The Haircut That is Flattering on Everyone
So back to that photo of me hovering at the bottom of this page. It's about 8 years old and I no longer have that haircut. I can hear your audible sigh of relief.
Right now I am sporting perhaps the Most Flattering Hairstyle Ever Worn by Julyne. It is a version of what I have cleverly dubbed "The Perfect Haircut," because it's a style that looks great on pretty much everyone. You can see it here. This perfect cut falls between my chin and my shoulders and it looks good wavy, curled, air-dried or blown-dried straight. When I wear it down, friends say, "I like your hair this length." Note to self: Quit putting your $200 hairstyle up in a ponytail, even a cute ponytail.
You, too, can have this perfect haircut because it looks good on all face shapes. To inspire you, I present these versions:
- "The Chop," which I love, love, love for reasons you can read all about.
- The Long Bob, which apparently has become a classic.
- Alexa Chung's Shag (here, I am outing myself as having a huge girl crush on Chung).
Who Can Wear Short Hair -- And Who Shouldn't
I cut my hair off after a particularly bad breakup and I loved it. Short hair suited my long face and straight hair perfectly, made me feel sophisticated and somewhat edgy, and allowed me to stand out among a sea of long-haired Manhattan women.
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. And avoid short cuts if you have super curly hair.
I did the research and created the absolute perfect photo gallery for you short-hair-lovin' girls. Find out which short haircuts look best on your face shape.
My Love Affair With Bangs
I almost always get side-swept bangs when I get my hair cut. I love these bangs because when I wear my hair in a ponytail, which I do quite often (hello, new motherhood and hot, sticky summer days!), the sweep of the bangs hides my large forehead and frames my face beautifully. My forehead is so high that without bangs, I can look as if I have no hair. Seriously.
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, which is OK by me.
For more on bangs, see my gallery of Best Bangs by Face Shape.
Hair Texture: As Important as Face Shape
Your hair texture is as important as your face shape when it comes to choosing the perfect haircut. There are 6 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."
I believe in breaking rules, however. And in my article on hair texture, I detail what the rules are and which ones are worth paying attention to and which ones are worth breaking. Check it out: 10 Things Every Woman Should Know About Hair Texture.
The 6 Things to Consider When Getting a New Haircut
Face shape is just one of 6 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.
To make sure this doesn't happen, check out How to Pick the Right Haircut: 6 Things to Consider.
Consider Your Body Type
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.
Find out what styles work best on tall, petite, busty and curvy women in Best Hairstyles by Body Type.
If You Are Over 55, Must You Cut Off All Your Hair?
I despise beauty rules that put women in a box. 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. I did the research and created a lot of articles just for you. 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:
- Hairstyles for Women Over Age 50
- 20 More Gorgeous Hairstyles for Older Women
- Photos of Gorgeous Gray Hairstyles
- 25 Makeup Tips to Look Younger
The Tricky Round Face Shape
My good friend and neighbor Melodie is Korean and has a very round face. Melodie has the absolute perfect haircut (it looks like an edgier this), for which she pays $20 in New York City's Chinatown. When I ask her where exactly is this salon where she gets her hair cut because maybe I would like to write about it, she says cryptically, "I drive you there."
Typically, if you have a round face, you want to make your face appear longer and leaner and less round. Melodie's haircut falls straight and choppy around her face and it looks best when it's at least a couple inches below her chin. The back is always shorter and angles out longer in the front. She has bangs. Even though Melodie complains about the imperfections of her perfect haircut, I sometimes look at her and think, "I can't believe I pay $200 for my version of your $20 haircut." And then I remember Kaz and how I could never cheat on him. (When I told Kaz about Melodie's cheap haircut he raised his eyebrows and said, "Huh!").
Why I Envy the Square Face Shape
I read somewhere that square faces photograph the best. Apparently the angles of the jaw and the cheeks mean square faces don't photograph "flat." I also read somewhere that 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.
So that is why I envy the square face shape above all other face shapes even the perfect oval face. That, and I kinda always want to be Gwyneth Paltrow.
Uh-Oh, Can't Figure Out Your Face Shape?
Every few weeks I get an email from someone who has tried my measuring method (found here) and failed to figure out her face shape. Always included in the email is a photo attachment. Usually the woman has an oval face.
If, after reading this article and trying my 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. I'm talking about women with really long faces, or women with super strong jaws or pointy chins or chubby faces.
So should worry about your face shape? Maybe. Find out in my article, Does Your Face Shape Really Matter?
I have a bunch of articles and photo galleries on face shapes. Check them out: