Choosing the correct hairstyle & cut for your face shape

When thinking about a new hair style or hair cut, it is important to consider what you want to achieve from your new look. Some people just want to look different and that’s great, but if you know the theory behind the choices a good hair stylist makes and why they might suggest certain things to you, it can help you to maintain a style at home that constantly flatters your looks, and hey, when you look like me you need to flatter… So if you are keen to put your best foot forward, read on!

In general, when working with our hair we want to be achieving a level of balance, or as some say, to create an oval shape. One simple way of explaining this in hair terms is to look at partings; a centre parting can remove width from a forehead, whilst a side parting can help to make the face appear wider. Look at your hair as design and consider the overall shape, weight, width and line. Now I’m not saying that if you want to style your hair you need to be a graphic artist and I’m not saying all hairdressers paint still life in their spare time, but it certainly helps to view hair in this way. When you get this concept down, you’ll be able to style your hair more confidently and play to the strengths of the hand you were dealt.

I wanted to keep it simple by just discussing four face shapes. If you’re worried that I’m missing out important shapes, consider that whilst you can find descriptions of diamond shapes, or dodecahedral foreheads or wah wah wah, in fact, when broken down, all these extra shapes are just combinations of three shapes: triangles, squares and circles. Even the ‘long’ shape here is more or less a mutation of the circle face shape, but it’s something of an outlier and so I’ve included it. By simplifying it in this way, you can view you or your clients face shape as a unique form and work in a more bespoke manner only needing a few fundamental, general guidelines. As we’ve established, the goal is to balance the shape, so if a person has a triangular jawline, the same principle of balance applies in reverse if it was upside down and they had a triangular forehead.

We all have areas of our face that we like and dislike, my face is pretty long and my chin is a bit of a Brucey special, but my eyebrows are not bad… this type of observation are our first steps when working out our face shape and what we want to do with it. You can then go on to decide, do you want to balance a feature out, complement it or accentuate it? The drawings below are just rough ideas, but you should be able to see similarities to yourself. Focus where the most narrow and wide areas of your face lie and consider which features are prominent, high cheek bones, strong jawline etc. Then check out the descriptions below to work out how to achieve what you’re after. Remember these are just general rules and there is equally nothing wrong with wanting to accentuate that massive Alpha chin. Well, you might not be after doing that, but I’m all for breaking the rules and working outside of the average norm. At least after reading through this post, you’ll have a good idea as to how to go about it!


The heart face shape is usually characterised with the forehead and cheekbones tapering to a narrow, sometimes pointy chin. The forehead and cheekbones differ in prominence, but the overall shape is that of a triangle or heart with the widest part of the head being around the temple area. The general idea here is to avoid adding width around and above the cheekbones or hair cuts that finish at the jawline.


  • If you like bangs and fringes, try to avoid blunt cut styles and go more for softer, or sweeping finges.
  • Add width around and below the jawline with layers on long styles or by bevelling shoulder length hair outwards.
  • Long styles finishing at shoulder length or below will almost always work well.


  • Blunt fringes are going to accentuate width at the forehead, creating a very angular triangle shape. Very cool if that’s what you’re going for, but very harsh and most people will feel it’s a little too strong.
  • Shorter styles in general are going to emphasise the triangular shape. Again, this can be a plus point if that’s the idea to go for, but remember that its a very bold look.


A long face shape tends to have elongated features, sometimes a larger chin, forehead or both. Often cheekbones will not be prominent or will maintain the sleek profile by not adding any width to the face. In general you’ll want to avoid adding height and instead go for width, to help create a more balanced, oval shape.


  • Soft styles will work well here, especially mid to long length layered cuts that add volume and width. Big curls and waves work well.
  • If you’re looking to go shorter, bobs and face framing, with the hair tucking below the chin will help to add width at the sides, whilst tapering off weight towards the jaw.
  • Fringes and bangs. Anything will work well really.


  • Adding any sort of height, so that’s quiffs out the window.
  • Whilst shorter cuts work, if your hair is thin and has little body, you might not get the desired width, so you need to be careful with fine or thin hair.
  • Centre partings. Ozzy Osbourne.


A round face shape is circular and has a length roughly equal to width. Not dissimilar to square, however with softer outlines, so perhaps the jawline wont be quite as strong, or perhaps the cheekbones are slightly more prominent. Essentially this is a face shape that is very even and with subtle features and the general goal will be to create a slightly narrower shape.


  • Long but tight styles, avoiding texture and curls.
  • Centre partings, which help to create a narrower frame.
  • Short and pixie cuts can work well on smaller, round faces.


  • Fringes and bangs can be a bit of a nightmare, if you insist, sweeping fringes on longer cuts can work, however…
  • Side partings in general will only cause the face shape to appear wider, so probably you’ll want to avoid that.


A square face shape will tend to have a broad forehead with a strong jawline. The jawline is often angular, with broad jowls. It differs from the cirle shape in the angles, being a much stronger shape. When dealing with a square shape, the main areas will be softening sharp angles and lines and trying to create a more rounded overall shape.


  • Forward graduation will help to soften the jawline.
  • If you have long hair, a soft, sweeping fringe can help by breaking up the square, symmetric angles.
  • Texture helps soften the square shape by adding loose edges and curls can help to add roundness.


  • As with the heart shape, blunt cut fringes or bangs will only help to accentuate the angles. They can look cool, but are a very strong look.
  • Blunt cut bobs will draw attention to an angular jawline, so probably you’ll want to avoid that.

So hopefully now you have a good idea as to what face shape means in terms of hair styling and hair cutting and feel confident with what you want to do with your hair. Hopefully it’s at least helped you along a first step in deciding a direction to go down when looking to go for a new style. The rules above are only some ideas and general examples as to what you can do to create balance, the idea here is that by understanding these examples, you’ll understand better this concept as a whole and experimentation will be more fruitful for you in achieving the look you like the most for your hair! If this is all too long to read or you’re looking for some bullet points, check out the graphic below which sums up more or less the key points for each shape. Its sized to 1920 x 1080 so can be used in an education environment, so please feel free to share it around, print it out, whatever you like. Thanks for reading as always!


2017-10-25T01:30:25+00:00 January 29th, 2016|Articles, Features|0 Comments

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