A PSA from all of us who have learned the hard way: Haircuts are not one-size-fits-all. Pinpointing your individual face shape isn’t only helpful when it comes to mastering makeup techniques or finding the perfect pair of sunglasses; it’s also a major factor in the quest for the most flattering haircut.
“Your face is your most important feature,” says Laura Polko, celebrity hairstylist and T3 ambassador. “Your hair is there to add to the beauty, not to do its own thing.” Like makeup, hair is a great tool to help play up your best features, “or minimize the ones we want to downplay,” adds celebrity hairstylist Adir Abergel.
When planning your next chop, keep these expert-approved tips in mind for your most successful trip yet.
Not sure where to start?
Carolyn Aronson, licensed hairstylist, CEO and founder of It’s A 10 Haircare, says determining your face shape is as easy as looking in the mirror. “First, decide which part of your face is the widest, then compare it with the width of your jaw. Next, compare the length and width of your face to determine your face shape.”
Ahead, a roadmap to your most flattering cut.
As seen on: Chrissy Teigen and Miranda Kerr
Generally symmetrical, round faces usually have the same width and length with a rounded jawline and chin. As such, the most flattering hairstyles for round faces are those that deliver an elongated appearance to the face, creating a more oval look. “It’s best to keep hair longer, ideally past your collarbone, if you can,” says Polko, recommending opting for long layers, if any. “Round faces should typically stick to one- length hair and avoid round cuts and too many layers,” adds celebrity hairstylist Kim Kimble. “Curly hair has a tendency to be rounded, so those with curly hair and a round face should stay away from rounded cuts, as it will warp their face shape.”
“A center part isn’t for every face shape, but it works beautifully on a round face,” Abergel notes. “Center-parting and adding longer layers will highlight features that you want to accentuate on a round face.”
As seen on: Rachel McAdams and Elle Macpherson
If you have an oval-shaped face—it’s equally as wide as it is long—you’ve won the hairstyle jackpot. The most versatile of the face shapes, Polko says that oval faces “can pull off anything,” and pinpoints bobs, shags and long layers as some of her personal favorites.
While this face shape has endless flattering options due to its coveted symmetry—Kimble loves a chin-length bob—keep this in mind: “A very long face should avoid a super short crop, as it may elongate the face more,” suggests Abergel.
As seen on: Selena Gomez and Kerry Washington
Heart-shaped faces are visually similar to round faces, but typically have a larger forehead or a slightly more narrow chin. “Because of this wider forehead, a heart-shaped face is the perfect face for bangs,” says Aronson, noting that they help minimize the appearance of a broad upper-face.
If you’re not ready for some fringe, a long bob (aka lob) is also a popular choice for this face shape; however, be sure strands fall below the jawline, as a chin-length cut will create a wider appearance around the chin. Another option, according to Abergel: “Pixie cuts that are shorter in the back and on the sides can elongate the face and add lift to the top of the head.”
As seen on: Sarah Jessica Parker and Tori Spelling
Comparable to square-shaped faces, rectangular or oblong faces still have angular features, but are longer in length. As such, styles that are fuller around the cheekbones, such as side-swept bangs, help to distract from the length and add symmetry.
“For a rectangular face, I like a soft, layered cut because it can enhance the cheekbones while disguising the corners of the face,” says Abergel. “A tousled bob also works well on this face shape, and you can play with some volume.” Adding texture to the hair, either via layers, waves or styling products, will help to add width to the face and make it appear more symmetrical.
As seen on: Sandra Bullock and Olivia Wilde
Like a round face shape, those with square shapes generally share a proportionate forehead, jaw and cheekbone, but often have a more angular jawline. To counteract the sharp angles of the face, focus on soft, layered styles.
Long layers will help lengthen the face, explains Kimble, as Aronson says that a layered, tousled style—she prefers a bob or lob, though virtually any hairstyle would be flattering—will help soften the face. Interestingly, Polko says nose size will also help to determine the most favorable style for a square-shaped face.
“For a smaller nose, I would recommend a middle part,” she notes, also suggesting a shorter cut. For those with a larger nose, a longer style can help shift the emphasis away from the center of the face.
As seen on: Halle Berry and Jennifer Lopez
If you have a small, pointed chin and wider cheekbones, it’s likely you have a diamond face shape. “For this shape, I recommend keeping the face as open as possible and accentuating the cheekbones,” Abergel says. “Styles for diamond face shapes should keep the balance in your overall look, not outweigh it.” His suggestion: A long bob with a side part and side-swept bangs.
Another fan of fringe on this face shape, Polko says diamond-shaped faces can “pull off curtain bangs well because there is generally more space on the forehead and they complement the shape of the chin.” According to Kimble, those with this face shape should not be afraid of playing with long layers, either, for a polished finish.
Along with an unflattering haircut, Polko says some of the biggest aging indicators are poor hair health and dated color.
“Using too much box dye to cover grays can add years to a look and also really dry out the hair,” she explains. As we get older, Abergel notes that the key to hair color becomes all about dimension. “Lowlights and highlights will create more movement so nothing feels flat.” As such, defying gravity shouldn’t just be the ultimate goal for our skin, but also our hair, he adds.
The solution: lightweight products and strand-saving devices to keep hair voluminous and healthy.
To keep blonde hair looking bright, violet pigments in Bumble and bumble Bb.Illuminated Blonde Shampoo ($31) help neutralize brassy tones.
Made for fine hair, dpHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse Lite ($35) lifts dullness and impurities from the strands and scalp without weighing hair down.
Use a drop of Joico Colorful Glow Beyond Anti-Fade Serum ($22.50) after styling to lock in color and boost shine for all hair hues.
Cut down on hair damage via tools that minimize heat exposure, such as the Lunata Cordless Flat Iron Styler PRO ($250), which features titanium plates and even heating throughout.