There are only six types of face shape, but determining which category you belong to may be difficult. What distinguishes a rectangular face from a square one? Diamond or love-shaped? And there’s more: Some people have a mix of two face shapes, which makes finding the ideal haircut that much more difficult. All the details might make your head spin—regardless of shape.
Of course, a professional hairstylist can see your bone structure and determine how to style your hair. So we went to their expertise: Here’s how to figure out if a certain hairstyle would suit you, as well as which hairstyle components would work best for your face shape (read: haircuts are not one-size-fits-all, but there are distinct style characteristics that perform better for different head shapes than others).
So, with this in mind: You can get whatever hairstyle you desire. Your hair is not about what you “think” you need to look like; it’s about YOU—not what you think you need to look like. But if you want to use this as a reference, go right ahead.
The various face shapes are described
In terms of haircuts, each face shape has one of two action items: You should either add some definition or soften any harsh angles. Consider it a balancing act for your bone structure.
The six face shapes, along with the haircuts and styles that flatter them: They’re all available in plus sizes.
“I’ll show you the one golden rule of face-framing style,” claims a celebrity hair stylist. Matrix’s artistic director, Nick Stenson. “Focus on choosing a form that makes you appear more oval,” she adds. Because oval face shape lack sharp angles, yet have somewhat curved outer edges, they don’t stand out as much. The forehead is somewhat wider than the chin (think of an egg flipped on its side). And, as Stenson points out, these face shapes make it easier to pull off most haircuts since altering or soften angles isn’t required.
We also have square-shaped faces: Your face’s widest points are all the same length, and you’re likely to have a prominent jawline. Long airy layers and side-swept bangs are ideal for hairstyles, according to Michelle O’Connor, texture specialist and artistic director at Matrix. You want a style that softens up your angular features, in other words. Stenson believes, “Square face shapes will do great with fringes and face-framing layers.”
The length of a round face, like that of a square face, is equal to the distance between its widest points. There are no sharp angles on a round face, unlike in the case of a square face. That said, you’ll want to give your features some definition and form. Stenson advises choosing hairstyles that are choppy, angular: “Round face shapes look lovely balanced by bobs and one-sided hair tucks or short pixie cuts,” he adds.
“Diamond faces are very angular,” according to O’Connor (think high, high cheekbones and a pointed chin). She uses a side part and medium-to-long layers to soften the style. To soften the look, she suggests “definition similar to a wave, curl, and bounce. Definition like a wave, curl, and bounce will considerably minimize those angles.”
Rectangular faces are rectangular in form but quite angular (similar to square-shaped faces), with dimensions that are longer than they are wide.”Feathery fringes and middle parts are flattering to rectangular shapes,” Stenson explains. The angles don’t appear as sharp, which makes the form more ovular in appearance.
Because they have a pointed chin and a heart-shaped face is frequently mistaken for that of diamond, people often confuse them. Diamond faces, on the other hand, have a limited jaw and hairline, whereas heart-shaped faces have a smaller jaw and forehead. And to reiterate: you don’t need a widow’s peak to have a heart-shaped face.
Both O’Connor and Stenson advise adding fullness to the jaw for hairstyles. “Side parts are wonderful, and blunt bobs or lobs tend to provide flattering width at or near the jawline,” Stenson adds. Long, side-swept bangs will look nice as well, according on O’Connor.
How to Recognize Your Face Shape
There are a few popular paths to explore (the first, somewhat more practical; the latter, a bit more enjoyable). To begin, measure the length of your face by measuring along its widest points with some measuring tape. “If your face is the same width and length, it’s most likely square or round,” O’Connor explains (then you can determine which one you are depending on how sharp your angles are). “If the forehead is wider, it’s most likely a diamond or heart,” says De Young. “A rounded face has angles that are wider on one side than the other.” Your nose width and shape will influence your overall look. The length of your face is determined by how far apart your eyes are from each other, whether you have big or
“One of the most entertaining hacks I’ve ever seen is to take a photo of yourself with your hair back and compare it to this other fantastic idea,” O’Connor says. Print it out, and you’ll be able to trace the outline of your face and discover which shape it resembles. You may put it on your wall, draw or paint something on it, and call it art if you need a cheerful face-shape reminder before your next haircut.
Alternatively, you may draw each shape on your face one-by-one in front of a mirror using a dry erase marker, according to Stenson. (Draw the shapes about the size of your face, similar to the infographic above.) “Align your face with each shape. You’ll be able to figure out which form best represents your facial structure by doing this,” he suggests.