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Face It

December 10, 2012 — 1 Comment

I get a lot of questions from clients and friends about how to know what hairstyles will work for them. As a conscientious stylist I consider a lot of different factors when developing a haircut and style. There’s hair type, texture, density, lifestyle, maintenance and last but certainly not least, face shape.  Face shape in fact is so important that I often start there to eliminate shapes that will not work with the person I’m working with and I’ll build from there. So let’s chat about basic face shape theory and what hairstyles work with which shapes best.

There are a few ways you can tell what face shape you are. Start by looking in the mirror and see if you can identify an obvious shape. If that doesn’t work ask a friend to take a look. A fresh set of eyes that can step back and look from a distance helps. The last way is to break your face down into zones. First zone is from your hairline to the eyebrows. The second zone is from your eyebrows to under the nose. The third zone is from the end of the nose to the jaw.

Observe what you see in each zone. For instance, let’s take the diamond shape. Your face will be slightly longer than it is wide. The jaw line and forehead will be narrow with the widest part of your face being in your cheeks.

A diamond shape is really versatile. You can add a fringe to widen a narrow forehead and pull off a cut that hits at the jaw to widen a pointed chin. You can also show off those great cheekbones with a long layered cut that moves away from the face at the cheeks.

Here are some guidelines for the other common face shapes.

  • Square-defined jaw and straight hairline. The sides of your face are straight vertical lines and your face is as long as it is wide.

Hairstyles-Get the thought of heavy bangs out of your mind! It will shorten and widen your face. Try a side swept fringe. This face shape will support long hair where as an oblong face wouldn’t. The key with this shape is softness. Soft waves and soft edges work well. Avoid blunt edges like a geometric one-length bob.

Celebrities with square face shapes include Demi Moore, Penelope Cruz, Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Aniston.

  •  Round-cheek bones are the widest part of this shape with a round jaw line. It’s generally as wide as it is long and has a wide hairline and less pronounced chin.

Hairstyles-I just said to stop thinking of a heavy bang, and I’ll say it here as well! This will shrink your face and make it look wider. A layered side swept fringe cutting diagonally across the face will rebalance the roundness. You can add volume in the crown with this shape and length. Avoid adding too many layers at the cheeks, which will draw the eye horizontally. This shape could also pull off a shorter cut like a pixie, but think Michelle Williams with a longer fringe than a traditional pixie that is short all over.

Celebrities with round face shapes include Drew Barrymore, Kelly Clarkson, Kirsten Dunst and Ginnifer Goodwin.

  •  Oblong- your face is longer than it is wide. The forehead, cheeks and jawline are the same width. It’s like a stretched out square.

Hairstyles-Avoid, Avoid, Avoid volume in the crown! I’ve seen some sights walking the streets of NYC with an oblong face and a bump of high hair in the crown. This will only make your face look longer and drawn. Now you can add a full bang! Keep them more rounded than square so it doesn’t mimic the square line of the chin. Also, keep them textured for softness and movement. Long layers work really well, but remember the goal is to add width with this shape at the cheeks and not volume in the crown. Ask for layers that start around the cheeks and jawline.

Celebrities with oblong face shapes include Liv Tyler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kelly Rowland.

  •  Oval-Your perfect and can wear anything so we’re not giving you any more attention!

A tip to help triangular and oblong face shapes figure out how to rebalance their proportions is to take the shape you are an invert it. For example, if your face shape is the blue shape, invert it and the red shape will tell you what to add or subtract.




Obviously this will not work for round, square, oval or diamond.

Hope this helps you consider your own face shape and what’s working for you and what’s working against you! Post a comment if you have any questions.

What is a Lob you ask? It’s a Long-Bob. I have a lot of clients that like the idea of a Bob and how simple it can be to manage but do not like how heavy and dense it can look. The Lob serves a lot of face shapes and hair types as well.

I find myself suggesting this haircut behind the chair a lot. A perfect example is two clients I had this month on separate occasions. My first lady was enjoying a long layered haircut we had been doing for a while but was feeling like she wanted a change and possibly wanted to go shorter. She was understandably afraid to lose a style she loved and the length. My second client I was helping grow out a shorter style we had been doing for a while, but didn’t want anything too high maintenance. In both situations I suggested a Lob.

I told my long layered lady during our consultation that a Lob would fulfill her need for a change, and wanting to go shorter. What’s so great about this haircut is that a Lob can range anywhere from 2 inches below your shoulders to an inch above your shoulders. I suggested a length just skimming the shoulders and slightly longer toward the face.  If she finds that she misses her long hair within eight weeks it will be just below the shoulder again which will make it feel like a longer haircut. It’s really such a transformative style.

With my shorter hair lady I also suggested a lob, but with a length hitting an inch off the shoulders. I knew it would be a good goal to work toward and keeping it off the shoulder will still feel like a shorter style to her. For either length the keys to making this style work is light-long layering, undercutting, texturizing and removing weight. Without these techniques you will be walking the streets with a heavy, blunt triangle sitting on your shoulders. The ends should feel light and piecey. The silhouette should be sleek and have internal movement.

My all-time favorite example of this is Jennifer Aniston’s Lob.