Lies You've Believed: Face Shapes

One of the hardest things about going to a new hairdresser is explaining what you like. Or if you aren’t sure what you like, finding a hairdresser who can look at your style, face shape and hair type and help you determine what works best for you and therefore, typically what you end up not just liking, but falling in love with. That kind of hairdresser is priceless. That kind of dedication and service is priceless. I believe that what is truly rendered during a visit to your stylist is not just a chic haircut or a beautiful highlight; it is time and knowledge. Oh, it goes way beyond the movement of my scissors. It is the benefit of years of training and education and tens of thousands of dollars in student loans. It is my sacrifice to hear critics mock my “shallow” and “superficial” profession. All because I want you to have the tools to feel gorgeous every morning when you wake up. All so that you can hold your head high with confidence knowing that you are beautiful.

We as hairdressers take all of that knowledge, all that we’ve learned about how to make you look your absolute best, and ask you to sit in our chairs and spend an hour. We’ll tell you all of our secrets. We can help you rock a bang that works with your face shape and even explain to you why you can try out that pixie cut you’ve always wanted to try. This is the goldmine in your salon. Ladies, I’ll be your hairdresser. Take a seat because now that we’ve gotten through the myths about shampoo and conditioner, we’re taking a look at how to deal with face shapes. And next week, we’ll break some more common myths about hair type.

The very first thing I look at when determining what will work for a client is her face shape. There are seven standard face shapes and a lot of people are a combination of two. A lot of bad hairstyle decisions can be prevented by understanding face shapes and how to balance each one. Sadly, most of us didn’t get past junior high before learning that lesson. Even still, we usually recognize what looks better on us and what looks worse, but we still don’t usually understand why. And understanding why is key to being able to decipher what works and what doesn’t when your hairdresser isn’t around.

Oval

This is the “most ideal” face shape. It’s been said that women who have this face shape can really do anything with their hair. They can go short, rock a blunt bang, or just stick with a long, curled look. I personally believe that there are so many factors that need to be considered beyond just the face shape (the side profile, for example) before just doing anything, but these ladies do tend to be lucky in that they already start out perfectly balanced from a front view. The oval face shape is your Jessica Alba and Megan Fox. The width of their face is in absolute proportion to the height. There is not one feature on their face that, as my Dad says, “adds character”. But seriously, they are just balanced and in proportion.

Round

This face shape is so interesting to me. It feels like every single woman that I meet who has a round face shape (no matter what her dress size is) feels like she’s too big. I have met women that weighed 100 lbs with a round face shape. Ladies, it has nothing to do with the amount of fat on your body! Now, the round face shape is one in which the width of the face is completely equal to the height. Much to my clients’ disbelief, a round face shape can truly do most things with their hair. They can *gasp* wear a pixie cut or bob and not look too wide. The trick is to balance out proportions, so for a pixie you’d want to keep it fuller on top and keep the sides more sleek. This will pull the eye up instead of out, making your face look longer and more in proportion to the width. I also like to suggest a heavy bang to my client’s who have a round face. They are usually terrified at the thought, but a hard line on a round face is actually perfection. The key is to not allow the bangs to look too wide. So from the arch of your eyebrow to the arch of your other eyebrow, you want your blunt bang. And from the arch of your brows out, you want to have longer pieces framing your face. Think of Cici’s (Hannah Simone) fringe from New Girl. That kind of bang on a round face gives a beautiful frame to the face and again, pulls the eye up giving the illusion of added length to the face. This is your Ginnifer Goodwin and Kelly Clarkson.

Pear

Ah, this is your Jennifer Aniston. And you wonder why she’s worn the same hairstyle since 2000? It’s not only because she obvi loves it, but because it does so well at accenting her features. The pear face shape is very narrow at the forehead and wide at the chin, producing a “pear” effect. The very best way to style hair for this type of face shape is to eliminate width at the chin and add width on top of the head. The most obvious way to do this is by creating a vertical line by adding a face frame just below the chin a la Jennifer Aniston. However, most women with a pear shape tend to only rock this kind of a style and never opt to pull their hair out of their face. Remember, the goal is to balance your face shape in order to give it attractive proportions… not to completely hide your face. For this reason, I love a pear shaped face in a topknot or ballerina bun. The width and volume of the bun add the illusion of balance and this kind of style just happens to be incredibly on trend right now. But overall, remember the proportions to balance and you’ll be set!

Oblong

This face shape is so fun to work with! In fact, in beauty school when I was learning the theories of face shapes, my teacher had an oblong face and I remember asking her if that was why she wore wispy, short bangs. After the initial shock of having a new student point out in a less than elegant way that I noticed her long forehead, she explained to me that yes, it helps her look more balanced. And then she quickly taught me how to speak to clients in a more loving way, thank goodness! But it is true: the oblong face shape is basically an extended oval. One great way to accent these features is to add a bang, as I learned was my teacher’s trick. Or, my personal favorite is to move the perimeter line of a haircut to above the chin, adding width to the face and balancing the length. For those ladies who aren’t quite as brave, styling can really go a long way with this face shape. Adding width is about the easiest thing to do when it comes to styling, so add some big waves or a deep side part and some retro curls. The only thing that ladies with this face shape want to avoid is long, straight, sleek looks because it creates the illusion of even more length of the face. The oblong face shape is going to be your Sarah Jessica Parker and Hillary Swank, so check out how they own their signature looks.

Rectangle

When I think of this face shape, I think of a friend of mine who had a rectangle face shape and wore a very severe bob that sat right in line with her lips. She paired it with blunt, heavy bangs. It never really came up in conversation, so I never really shared how I felt, but it was way too much for her face shape. It was completely overwhelming and dramatic. And the reason why was that hard angles need soft curves to balance them out. Women with rectangular face shapes need curls and layers. Or longer bobs with a face frame or long bang. You obviously don’t want to elongate the face any more, but you do want to add softness in a way that balances out the harsh lines that plague a rectangle shape. So cut off those corners with on off center parting and a long bang that sweeps softly across. Or add a face frame that begins between the mouth and chin. Think of Sandra Bullock or Jessica Simpson for this face shape…. their features strike you as harsh if you truly look at them, but you never notice because they always wear soft curls or side-swept bangs to play down the drama.

Heart

I always, always think of Reese Witherspoon for this face shape. She is a truly classic heart shape. And also Kelly Kapowski, er Tiffani Amber Thiessen. This face shape is classified as having a wider forehead and a pointed, narrow chin. Literally, a heart. Women who have a heart shape can really do a lot with their hair. The only thing that you want to pay close attention to is not adding width to the forehead. You ladies will not want to rock a blunt bang from temple to temple or curl your hair starting at eye level. You’ll also want to be careful when wearing hair up and out of the face. A few pieces left out around the hairline or what I like to call “wispies” will help keep you balanced but allow for you to have a ponytail day. But otherwise, wear a side bang and go back and forth between straight and curls.

Diamond

Saving the best for last, my face shape! The diamond face shape is the widest at the cheekbones and has a narrow chin and forehead. Honestly, this face shape is a bit more restrictive, but once you find out how to work with it, it’s like stepping through the pearly gates. I had seriously struggled with this for so long before I figured out what works for me. For a diamond shape, you want to add width to your chin and forehead and decrease width at the cheekbones. I like to play up my cheekbones quite a bit, though, so you will usually find me with curls that start at my chin, a face frame, or lots of volume near the top of my head to balance my cheekbones out. Personally, my favorite look on me is a little bit of length, volume at my roots, and curls from my chin to ends. And that paired with my ombre that starts at my chin is pretty perfect to balance me out. Another signature look for diamond’s is a long bang. Make sure it sits just below your cheekbones, though so that it does it’s job by balancing the width of the cheekbones. For this face shape, I always look to Halle Berry and Scarlett Johansson to get style ideas. Halle Berry’s short style is a great way to show off a diamond face with volume on top and tighter sides. And Scarlett Johansson always has the perfect amount of volume.

Alright, now stand in front of your mirror with your hair completely pulled back. What do you see? A longer forehead and a petite chin? A wide jaw line and high cheekbones? A perfect oval? Use that knowledge and the information I’ve given you above to serve as a starting point to a great haircut and style. Ask your hairstylist how she thinks your face shape should dictate your style. Experiment with some of the styles I recommended. Be sure to tell me about it in the comments! And also, check back in next week for more hair goodness!

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