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Hair Tips: Face Shapes & Style Tips


One of the most basic questions that begs an answer when selecting an ideal hairstyle is what is your face shape.

Depending on which hair expert you talk to, the possible shapes include oval, round, heart shaped, square and rectangular. Some hair sages might add the pear (reversed heart) and the diamond (triangle) to the list.

Discover Your Own Shape

Discover your own shape by taking a photo of your face with all your hair tied back. Use a color magic marker and trace the outline of your face. The silhouette will reveal your face shape.

(Image of Catherine Zeta Jones who has a round face shape - Photo by Jason Kirk - - all rights reserved).

As famed celebrity hairdresser Robert Hallowell pointed out "there really is no such thing as a perfect face shape that completely conforms to the basic shape". Although most people will have the prominent characteristics of a specific shape, Robert explained "it is common for people to contain blended facial features that blur the lines". For example, someone with a mostly oval shape might have more strong square angles to their cheekbones.

Or someone with a round face might have a more prominent chin like the heart shape.

What hairstyle is most compatible with each shape? The hairdresser suggested that the goal should be to select styles that will focus the current shape into more of an oval design. He also recommended that balancing out sharp edges and adding width to narrow chins is an excellent goal.

Face Shapes & Recommended Styles

So what are some basic suggestions for each face type? Check out the summary of each shape below:

Oval - Almost any length or style works well for this classic shape. Hair pulled off the face shows off the beautiful oval. Try a classic long style with a center or side part and hair cascading to the shoulders.

(Image of Jessica Biel - who has an oval shaped face - at the 2005 Covent With Youth Gala - May 13, 2005 - Photo by Chris Wolf/

This shape looks best with layers designed to show off other facial features like great cheekbones, beautiful eyes, chin or luscious lips. Avoid styles that add height near the crown.

Round - Focus on chiseling the width of the face by adding side-swept bangs, longer layered, shaggy or tapered styles that hug the cheeks. Avoid styles that add width to the sides of the face although some width at the crown can work wonders.

Heart - Focus on styles that add width from the jaw line downwards to balance a pointy or prominent chin. Since this shape is widest across the forehead and temple area, consider experimenting with side-swept fringes or deep side parts that will visually break up the width.

(Image of Brittany Murphy - who has a heart shaped face - at the 2005 Covent With Youth Gala - May 13, 2005 - Photo by Chris Wolf/

Square - Soften the sharp edges and angles of the face with muted layers and rounded hairstyles. Try a side-swept fringe worn with long layered waves that play up cheekbones.

(Image of Jessica Simpson - at the In Store Appearance , Ulta Salon, West Hollywood, CA - January 10, 2005 - Photo by, Jason Kirk - all rights reserved).

Hair should either be long enough to cascade to the tops of the shoulders or if shorter, should end either just above or below the jaw line. Avoid harsh center partings, blunt cut bangs and all one length styles.

Rectangle - Add body and volume along the sides. Avoid wearing tresses long and stick straight or it will add unwanted length to the face.

Supermodel Naomi Campbell (shown to the side) has a face shape that is long and thin with hints of pear shaped features such as a wider forehead and a chin that is prominent.

Naomi, known for her striking beauty often wears her hair in styles that feature full wavy or curly sides. Her style above works well to fill in the spaces around her chin and give the illusion of a more oval shaped face.

Diamond/Triangle - Select styles that add softness and width at the cheekbones and fill out a pointed chin. Hairstyles that utilize sleek side panels to slim the wide cheekbone areas are flattering. Add fullness around the forehead and chin to form a more balanced oval appearance.

(Image of Jordana Brewster who has a mostly diamond shaped face, at the Experience The Color of M&M's at The M&M Brand City, Hollywood, CA, March 11, 2004 - Photo by Jason Kirk - - all rights reserved).

Pear/Inverted Heart - Widest at the jaw line with graduated narrowing upwards from the cheeks to the forehead. Add width to the top half of the face with carefully constructed texture from the cheeks upwards. Experiment with soft height added to the crown area.

A Bob For All Face Types

If you think the hot Bob styles will only work with perfect oval face shapes, think again. According to some hairdressers, "a skilled hairdresser with a good eye can custom create a bob hairstyle for just about any face shape with stunning results".

(Image of Kyra Sedgwick, who has a mostly square face, at the world premiere of "Secondhand Lions" 09-18-03 - Image by David Edwards - - all rights reserved).

Discuss these hair style recommendations with your own hair professional:

To make a thin or rectangular face look fuller, try a chin-length bob with bangs and longer layers in back. Faces generally look fuller with symmetrical styles with long side fringes.

To soften a square jaw, wide prominent chin, opt for a shorter cut that ends at the nape of the neck and is carefully layered in front to avoid bulk at the chin. Actress Kyra Sedgewick, shown above, wears the perfect style for her mostly squared shaped face. Not only is the style soft and elegant, it shows off Kyra's gorgeous eyes while showcasing her neck and mouth.

To slim excessive width at the cheekbones select a bob that utilizes sleek layered front hair panels that are cut to nestle into the cheeks to minimize them.

To slim a round face, go with a side parted bob cut below the chin with choppy or shaggy layers.

Other Challenges

While knowing your face shape is a good starting point, it is also important to factor in your hair's texture (straight, wavy, curly, combination), your body shape, your age, your lifestyle and any facial features you may wish to highlight or minimize.

While you might identify the absolute best hairstyle for your face shape, if the style is incompatible with your hair's texture, it might take you more time than you wish to devote to wrestling with curling or flat irons or hot rollers.

Overly Large Or Small Foreheads

Equally significant are any features you prefer to minimize. Actress Goldie Hawn has worn lush side-swept bangs her entire life. Her secret? A large forehead. Robert Hallowell believes that "bangs can be the answer to a lot of facial challenges.

(Image of Goldie Hawn, who has a large forehead, at the premiere pf "Alex & Emma" at the Chinese Theater, Hollywood, CA - June 16, 2003 - Image by David Edwards - - all rights reserved).

He commented that besides downplaying large or too-small foreheads, bangs can slim a round face, soften sharp edges and play up beautiful eyes".

Prominent Nose

Hairdressers recommend balancing a large or challenging nose shape "by wearing hair swept up and off the face or by softening with carefully designed bangs". Some hairstylists warn that "hair worn close to the face with lots of big curls and waves or stick straight without any texture may make a large nose appear wider than it really is". Hairdressers also suggest "keeping the hair lines clean and simple". Super short chops or crops will also inadvertently emphasize the nose and chin areas.

Close Set Eyes

Barbra Streisand is famous for her close set eyes. How does her celebrity hairdressers balance this feature, which she uses to her advantage? Barbra generally styles her hair forwards on the sides to balance her face. Sometimes she will also add texture to offset the appearance of small eyes.

(Image of Barbra Streisand at "Meet the Fockers" Los Angeles Premiere, Universal Amphitheatre, Los Angeles, 12-16-04 - Photo by David Edwards/

This rule should be reversed for wide set eyes. To balance the eye width, avoid lots of texture or volume along the sides. Pull hair away from the face giving the impression that eyes are perfectly proportioned.

Double Or No Chin

Slim a double chin by selecting a long choppy shag style with layers than softly curve in towards the chin and down along the neck to reduce the appearance of too much chin. A modified swing style similar to the one worn by Jennifer Lopez can help to contour and flatter the chin area.

Maximize a non-existent of small chin with a short blunt style bob that opens up and highlights the area.

Don't forget to balance the cures for these issues with the overall face shape, texture and age.

Small or Large Mouth

Maximize a small mouth with a shorter angled bob or blunt cut to draw the line of the face inward and minimize the jaw. Minimize a wide mouth, like Julia Roberts with longer sweeping styles that softly frame the face and draw attention away from the mouth.

(Image of Julia Roberts at Miramax's Full Frontal" Premiere, July 23, 2002 - Photo by Sara De Boer/

General Don'ts

Some hairdressers also caution that women who are tall or have lots of texture or full tresses, should probably "avoid super short chops or crops". Furthermore, "petite women would also do well to avoid styles that might overwhelm their delicate features or contrast with their overall body shape".

When dealing with a problem feature, keep in mind that you may be the only that considers it to be a challenge. Rather then focus on any facials shortcomings, turn your attention to maximizing your best features.


Before you get carried away with choosing a fabulous new hairstyle, remember to consider your face shape, type and texture of your hair, your body type and your age. Evaluate how much time and money you might have to spend on creating and maintaining your style. Then act accordingly.

If you want to talk more about this or other hair care articles on or anywhere else, please post a message on's Hair Talk Forums.

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