Think about all the men you know and you may discover an interesting fact about male facial shapes.
Although the facial type of every man is determined by the actual position and overall prominence of their facial bones, and there are traditionally seven different facial types, a large majority of men have square face shapes.
(Image of Charlie Sheen onCBS Series - Two And A Half Men - Photos: Robert Voets/CBS - CBS Worldwide Inc. - All Rights Reserved).
Even males who start life with rounded face shapes or who lose their square jaws due to weight gain or age, they still have a lot of that square influence left in their facial planes.
Men's Facial Shape Definitions
Officially, men, like women, can have the following broadly defined face shapes although it should be noted that the majority of human faces do not neatly fall into one clear cut shape.
Everyone has a very unique face that can take on one of more primary shapes. It should also be noted that face shapes can constantly change.
Classic men's face shapes"
Women often are described as having a heart shaped face. This shape is generally missing from the men's list. Why? The heart shape, which is similar to the triangular shape, is definitely a more feminine designation.
Even more importantly, men and women have different hormonal compositions and bone structures and thus while women will have softer features, generally speaking, men will have more pronounced shapes.
Importance Of Facial Shape Definitions
Why does anyone care about face shape? In the hair, beauty and fashion worlds, face shape is the baseline for determining the most flattering cut, hairstyle and coloring. The base face shape also is taken in consideration when deciding to add facial hair like beards, mustaches and even sideburns.
Since men are frequently asking me how to go about selecting a good hairstyle, cut or color, male face shape issues come up for me on a regular basis.
I never really thought that much about it until recently when I was asked to write a brief overview of how male face shapes impact men's hairstyles and ultimate image.
So I sat down and starting flipping through my pages and pages of male photos to trigger my thoughts about men's face shapes. I must confess that I never really took the time to distinguish between male and female shapes until I was asked to really think about how facial shapes contributed to the ultimate image. After pouring through several pages of male celebrity photos on the photo wire services, I discovered to my amazement that the majority of the men's faces looked square to me. I started to worry that either I was hallucinating or I wasn't looking at the faces in the proper way to get a good feel for their definition.
Celebrity Hairstylist Advice
Deciding to call in an expert I sent an SOS email to LA celebrity stylist Robert Hallowell (shown to the side).
After explaining my problem with determining true male face shapes, Robert assured me that I wasn't crazy (one of the many reasons I love Robert).
Over the years Robert has worked with many stellar male celebrities like Brendan Fraser, Richard Dreyfuss, Christopher Reeve, Denzel Washington, George Clooney, Pierce Brosnan, Bill Pullman, Christopher Walken, Charlie Sheen (see image above) and Sir Ian McKellen, to name just a few. In fact, Robert just returned from a film junket with Brendan to promote LooneyTunes.
Note: Robert also created his own signature hair care line called prawduct which is amazing and extremely popular with both men and women (available here at HairBoutique.com.
Robert confirmed that I was correct about my conclusion that men have prominently square facial shapes. He calmed my initial qualms by telling me that the "overwhelming majority of men have square face shapes that sometimes are also a cross with varying degrees of rectangular shapes". Whew, what a relief.
The Absence Of A Perfect Facial Shape
While Robert and I discussed the various male stars that he has coiffed over the years, he mentioned that even though males have a general definable face shape, in reality there is no such thing as "a perfect face shape". Depending on a variety of factors, a man's face shape can include features of more than one. Some face shapes can even combine as many as three different face types.
Brendan Fraser is a great example. Although Robert shared that Brendan has a strong square shape and jaw line, he has a more prominent chin that might actually slide Brendan into a triangular or other facial shape category. However, the ruggedly handsome Mummy star has a lot of square facial angles going.
So what shape does Brendan have, I asked Robert. He laughed and said "well Brendan has Brendan Fraser's face shape" summarizing the point that while anyone can generally find a basic similar shape, everyone has their own unique exceptions.
Square Shaped Faces
I asked Robert to flip through some male celeb images on Wire Image with me to see if we agreed on their face shapes. I also asked Robert to help me identify who have really obvious shapes so that that men could use them as reference points when trying to access their own facial shapes.
Luckily for me, Robert hung on the phone while we kibbutized about a wide range of male celebrities from rock/pop stars to movies stars and even sports stars like Shaq. We started with male celebrities with strong square face shapes.
Male celebs, according to Robert include:
Reality TV Newlyweds star Nick Lachey (shown at the 2003 AMA Awards), Enrique Iglesias and actor Matt Damon, to name just a few, of the many male celebrities with classic square faces and prominent square jaws.
Celebrity stylist Ken Paves who coifs Jessica Simpson (former Mrs. Nick Lachey) used to sometimes trim Nick's style in the past. It should be noted Ken didn't create Nick's original hairstyle. At the time of this original article some years ago Ken confirmed on his cell phone that Nick had "a very classic square jaw and face shape".
Note: As a rule Ken Paves does NOT subscribe to classifying human faces into a series of shapes because he feels it is inappropriate and outdated. However, for the purpose of this article he humored me and agreed that of all the face shapes you might put Nick into that the square shape was more appropriate.
Indeed, Nick's face is "very strong, very angular and square". Ironically, when I tracked Ken down he was in his car racing to meet Jessica "to do her hair" for the Jay Leno Show.
Ken also confirmed that Nick's hairstyle (from back when he was married to Jessica) was a "perfect style for his face shape" and he favored the faux-hawk messy look.
Most Flattering Style For Square Shapes
As Robert explained "men with a classic square shaped face look best in a hairstyle that actually enhances and punches up the square shape". Although the square face shape doesn't have as many hair styling options as an oval shape, they have almost as many.
Image of Enrique Iglesias (shown at Christmas in Rockefeller Center - NBC Special - Photo: PMK)
Why intensify the squared look? Because, as Robert explained, "all men, other than squared skulled Frankenstein types, have round heads". Robert noted that "if a man has a square face, he needs a style that has clean squared off corners, around the ears, to counter the round head shape".
When a man with a classic square face shape doesn't go with a style that enhances the facial squareness (think flat top or messy faux-hawk spike versus a full pouffy look) he will tend to look a lot thicker around the bottom of the jaw and the chin area.
As Robert put it, "a man with a round head and a square face shape that is not properly coiffed will look like a large thumb with hair".
Robert noted that "Nick Lachey has that faux mohawk (aka the fauxhawk) messy look that is a perfect style to compliment his classic square face and jaw". Robert also pointed out "the faux-hawk style for men is still very popular and showing no signs of losing its momentum".
Matt Damon, according to Robert, will wear different styles according to movie roles, but in his private life also tends to wear his hair very short in a type of flat top or in a squared off messy look. This is a very complimentary for a square jaw.
So what about long hair styles for square face shapes? If designed to add squared definition to the face, it can work really well, according to Robert.
And what styles work best for men with square facial types? According to Robert, any style that is cleanly cut around the ears or any style that provides a square frame for the face. Whether long to the shoulders or very short, recreatet hat square image.
Modified Square/Rectangular Shaped Faces
Not all men have rigid square facials shapes. In fact, many will morph into a modified square/rectangular shape where there is still a lot of squareness but with some rectangular softness.
Male celebs with modified square/rectangular shaped faces, according to Robert include:
TV star Charlie Sheen (shown above at the top of the page) and Ben Affleck shown to the side on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" Ben Affleck -- NBC Photo: Paul Drinkwater - all rights reserved).
Most Flattering Style For Square/Rectangle
So what is the most flattering hairstyle for a man with the modified square face shape?
Robert told me "men with a quasi square/rectangular shaped face, like the classic squares, look best in a hairstyle that again enhances the square shape".
However, when the face shape includes a softer jaw shape and a rectangular lines, messy bangs or a carefully layered cut is best.
Facial hair can also punch up the overall face shape by adding definition. A well maintained beard may camouflage a soft jawline and a mustache will shorten an overly rectangular or oblong shape. A carefully trimmed goatee can also infuse an element of square ness to a soft chin.
Rectangular/Oblong Shaped Faces
Male celebs with a more pronounced rectangular or oblong shape include hip-hop's Eminem, shown to the side.
(Image of Eminem from Saturday Night Live -- NBC Photo: Norman Ng - NBC - all rights reserved.)
Most Flattering Style For Rectangular/Oblong
The oblong face needs to be shortened, the angularity hidden and the hairline blurred. In a man with a rectangular or oblong shape, the actual hairline should never be strongly angular or obviously exposed. A layered cut is often the best solution allowing hair to form an irregular look at the hairline.
A well maintained mustache also helps to shorten a longer face and give it more balance.
Eminem has a longer face shape. However, he does several things to offset his face shape. His very blonde hair contrasts with his dark eyebrows which draws attention away from the length of his face and up to his eyes. His glasses also provide balance. His hair is worn close to his head and the hairline is blurred with a light tousling.
The light color actually helps Eminem's cause by softening his look and pulled attention to the darker eyes. Eminem is often seem sporting various headgear that are also designed to de-emphasize his oblong face and focus attention to his best facial features, like his eyes.
Round Shaped Faces
As Robert pointed out, males with classic round face shapes generally tend to be younger or older or with a larger body build.
Robert explained that before males reach maturity they often will have soften chin or jaw areas that have a layer of baby fat. As they mature and age, most men will develop a stronger jaw line or their facial bones will take on more prominence giving them a square or more squared shape.
A classic round faced celebrity is Stevie Wonder shown at the 2003 Billboard Music Award on Fox at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. (2003FOX BROADCASTING CR:FOX).
Most Flattering Hair Style For Round
The goal with a round face is to provide a style that slenderizes. Off center parts or the addition of some waves and/or curls at eye level will help minimize a full face.
Beards can be styled to make the face appear more oval. A neat moustache will also enhance the overall appearance and shape of the face.
Although Stevie has a rounded face shape at the current time, it is still obvious that he has a basic square jaw. In addition to added weight in his face is the fact that Stevie's hair is receding. His look is balanced with the type of glasses he wears and his locks flowing down over his shoulders to provide lengthening of his look.
When the hairline is receding, a style that is long and flowing in the back, like Stevie wears, will balance the overall roundness of his facial shape.
Classic Oval Shaped Face
Celebrity muscian, Kid Rock seems to fall into one of those exceptional face shape categories that appears to combine a slightly oval shape with a classic square jaw line and strong chin.
Robert mentioned basketball star Shaq as being another male celebrity with a basic oval face shape.
Most Flattering Hair Style For Oval
Kid has a wonderful look built around his unique face shape. While an oval shaped face is generally recognized as the ideal face shape, a square jaw line can work very well with longer locks. Longer hair like Kid's, gives his face a strong masculine signature. (Image of Kid from the 2003 AMA Awards).
Kid, like Stevie Wonder and Eminem utilizes a combination of eyewear, headgear and facial hair to project a perfect signature look for his occupation.
Kid has his overally image and look well defined for his face shape, hair type and texture.
While Kid's look works in the Entertainment world, it would probably be less successful in the corporate world. Which brings up yet another consideration when working with the base facial shape.
When utilizing the face shape outline to select a complimentary hairstyle, it is important to take into consideration lifestyle, image requirements and upkeep. Celebrities like Kid, Brendan Fraser and Nick Lachey have access to the very best hair and makeup professionals. Not only do these people help the celeb select the best looks and styles, they help them maintain them.
Triangular Shaped Face
Justin Timberlake is an example of a male that has n ever so slightly pointed chin in combination with his basic square shape. This gives him a borderline triangular face shape.
According to Robert men with triangular shaped faces are much more rare than square shaped types. Although at certain angles Justin could even be considered as having a square shape, because of this wider cheek bones and forehead that is wider than his chin, Robert deems Justin as having the more rare trinangle.
(Image of Justin Timberlake - from Justin Timberlake: Down Home in Memphis - NBC Special - NBC Photo: Chris Haston - 2003 - all rights reserved).
Most Flattering Hair Style For Triangular
The potential problems with this male face shape is selecting a hairstyle that doesn't further magnify the pointed chin.
The best style, according to Robert, is to do as Justin does and wear hair closely cropped at the crown and near the temples with hair a little longer and/or fuller at the back.
Justin could also go with a full beard that would help to balance and fill out his jaw line.
Justin's various stylists utilize appropriate headgear and eyewear to offset his shape challenges so that his true shape is often hard to truly ascertain.
Pear And Diamond Shapes
A classic pear shape is narrow at the top and wide at the bottom of the face. The jaw and chin tend to be more rounded than square.
The diamond shape has a pointed shape at the chin and at the middle of the forehead.
Most Flattering Hair Styles For Pear & Diamond
A pear shaped face can be balanced with fullness at the crown and the around the temples. Short, full styles that end right above the jaw provide a more balanced face shape and give more definition to the jaw area.
The diamond shape works well with deep, full bangs. Not only does this give a broader appearance to the top of the head it softens the pointed forehead. A one-length cut in the back will also add width to the face. Facial hair can help as well. A full beard that is trimmed into a rounded or square shape will disguise the prominent chin.
When selecting a good hairstyle to work with the basic face shape it is important to consider other factors such as the shape, size and characteristic of the nose, the general facial profile and the type and condition of the hair along with the length of the neck.
A prominent or a nose that has an usual shape may need attention. If your hairstyle can support it consider minimizing the prominence of the nose by combing hair forward at the forehead and at the sides. Carefully designed bangs or a shaggy style could work wonders.
The length of the neck should also be factored into the final look that is selected.
A longer neck works best when hair can be worn longer of fuller to minimize the length. A short neck does better when it is exposed to add the impression of length.
As men age they tend to get a softer jawline. This can be offset with a beard. When possible darker hair colors should be selected over lighter colors. Darker colored beards will strengthen the jaw line. Lighter colors may add shadows and give a softer profile.
Experiment With Hair Parting & Facial Hair
Experiment with side and middle parts to minimize a large forehead. Add bangs to conceal a short or receding forehead. Use a beard to minimize a soft or receding or overly prominent chin. Consider adding appropriate lighter or darker color to facial hair to minimize or maximize the impact. Appropriately applied hair coloring can also heal a variety of hair or face shape sins.
Hair Texture & Type
Other considerations include the hair's type and texture. Naturally curly hair that adds fullness to an already round face shape may need to be addressed.
Since home relaxing kits are often used by men as well as thermal reconditioning treatments (TR) a man with a curly or wavy texture and a rounded face might want to consider relaxing or straightening the hair to give it more bend and to lay closer to the face.
If the hair is fine of thinning, the best solution, regardless of the face shape is to wear the hair super short, according to Robert. No matter how flattering a style could be, if it requires you to comb-over thinning strands, the benefits of the style would be lost.
Selecting the right hairstyle to compliment a face shape and addressing other facial features can be a daunting task. Besides issues of the right style, there are issues tied to hair texture and type, occupation, cultural issues and customs. While it is possible that a corporate attorney might be able to wear long corn rolls ala David Beckham to the courtroom, it is also extremely unlikely.
When in doubt about the best hairstyle for your own facial type and shape, consult with your favorite hair care professional. Be willing to consider all the options from hair color and length to facial hair designs.
When all is said and done, your face time will only improve.
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- Revised Publication Date: 03/31/10
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