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by Gail Kavanagh

An old axiom in hairdressing circles is that you should let your face shape be your guide when it comes to choosing a great hair do. Women have followed this advice for decades, and more recently, it has come into vogue for men as well.

Why is this so? For both genders, a great hairstyle is one you can forget about. It suits you, it moves easily with you, and you don’t have to keep glancing at yourself in any reflective surface to make sure it’s still OK. A great ‘do is like a great outfit: it defines you, it flatters you, it goes anywhere with you, and most importantly, it fits you perfectly. But with wider gender definitions and more freedom to choose how you want to look, some of the old rules are being overturned, while new attitudes take precedence. The face shape is still a good place to start, but no one is limited to a few “correct” styles any more.

Defining your face shape is easy, and you don’t need to mess with tape measures or doing calculations to do so. Just stand facing the bathroom mirror, and using a piece of soap, trace the shape of your face. If you have long hair, tie it back so your face shape is well defined.

There are many gradations suggested for different face shapes, but it is better to keep it simple:

  • If the resulting shape is nearly a circle, almost as wide as it is long, you have a round face;
  • If your round face has a pointy chin, and a is wider at the temples, you have a triangular face;
  • If your jaw is around the same width as your forehead and is blunt shaped, you have a square face;
  • If you have a long square jaw and high forehead, you have a long face.
  • A face that is shaped more like an egg is an oval face, which is regarded as the perfect shape for a women or anyone who identifies as feminine.

For men and those who identify as male, a square or long face is considered more masculine. But such divisions are old fashioned; your face shape is you and you are entitled to make the best of it.

Round face

Traditionally, the object was to make a round face look less round, avoiding big curls or a frizzy ‘do which would only make your face look rounder. That limits your choices, however. If you want big hair, whether you identify as a man or a woman, you can build up the crown to add height. The condition of your hair, and working with what nature gave you, are the most important factors. If you have full or curly hair and you like it that way, wear it with pride.

Triangular face

Having a wide forehead and pointy chin, giving a look that is often described as heart-shaped, was considered desirable in women, since it gave them a childlike look. The pert, gamin faces of movie stars like Audrey Hepburn were regarded as innocent and appealing. Today, this face shape is still considered highly photogenic, but isn’t confined to cute little pixie haircuts and whimsical curls. This face shape can get away with the edgiest looks on the market, for both men and women who don’t want to be children forever.

Square face

A blunt cut that ends at the jaw, paired with square-cut bangs, once the anathema of the square-faced woman, can look amazing and sophisticated, emphasizing a beautifully cut jawline and symmetrical features. It can be hard to carry off successfully, but is well worth it. Those who want a younger, softer look can try the more conventional layers, with ombre shading and other style tricks, For those who identify as masculine, this is considered the ideal face shape, so choose styles that show it off. It is best to keep it short, with height on the crown, making a bold statement.

Long face

If you have a long face and identify as feminine, it is usually best to avoid long straight hair. Layers are the look to go for if you want to soften your jaw and shorten your face. For maximum softness, you need a side-swept ‘do, with highlights and soft, bouncy layers. It’s high maintenance, but you will get the look you want. But if you like your long face, take the bold path, condition your hair to luxuriance, and wear it as you please. For men, it is highly desirable to exaggerate a long face with high hair and a matching beard.

Oval face

Someone with an oval-shaped face can wear just about any ‘do, but sexy short curls and floating layers look wonderful on you. You can be cutting edge too, trying out sharp cuts and geometric layers if curls are not your thing. Be bold and experiment with new looks as they come along, because with your face shape, you can wear anything.

Just remember that no one is confined to “correct” hair styles anymore, so don’t be afraid to experiment. If in doubt, talk to a good stylist about the many great options now available in shaping, coloring and making the most of your hair. If you have a look in mind that doesn’t fit in with conventional wisdom about your face shape, try it anyway and wear it with confidence. With a big smile (and a great hair stylist) you can rock any look and make it your own.

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