Like your clothes, haircuts aren’t one-size-fits-all. But unlike your clothes, you can’t take a crap haircut off after a day of fielding digs from your colleagues.
Which is why – before going under the barber’s scissors – it’s worth knowing which styles best suit your face shape. After all, an extra inch here or a smattering of facial hair there can make all the difference.
What Face Shape Am I?
But how can you actually determine what shape your face is? It’s simple. First, arm yourself with a flexible tape measure. Then, take the following measurements, recording each as you go:
- Forehead: Measure across your face from the peak of one eyebrow arch to the peak of the opposite arch.
- Cheekbones: Measure across your cheekbones, starting and ending at the pointiest part below the outer corner of each eye.
- Jawline: Measure from tip of your chin to below your ear at the point at which your jaw angles upwards. Multiply that number by two to get your jawline measurement.
- Face Length: Measure from the centre of your hairline to the tip of your chin.
Once you’ve got these measurements, note which is the largest of the four, and then compare to the below profiles to see which best describes your face shape:
- Oval: Face length is greater than the width of the cheekbones, and forehead is greater than the jawline. The angle of the jaw is rounded rather than sharp.
- Square: All measurements are fairly similar. The angle of the jaw is sharp rather than rounded.
- Rectangle: Face length is the greatest measurement. Forehead, cheekbones, and jawline are similar in size.
- Round: Cheekbones and face length have a similar measurement. They are larger than forehead and jawline, which also have a similar measurement. The angle of the jaw is soft and much less defined.
- Diamond: Face length measures largest. Then, in descending order: cheekbones, forehead, and smallest is jawline. The chin is pointed.
- Heart: Forehead measures greater than the cheekbones and jawline. The chin is pointed.
- Triangular: Jawline measures greater than cheekbones, which measure larger than forehead.
Once you’ve figured out your face shape, take your haircut cue from the expert advice we’ve gleaned from some of London’s top barbers:
Seen as the ideal face shape for women, an oval may not be the most alpha of face shapes for men, but it’s a good canvas for experimentation. Symmetrical and well-proportioned, an oval face shape does pretty much any hairstyle justice, so – you lucky boy – the choice is very much yours.
That said, there are a couple of minor caveats to ensure you optimise your ovalness. “The trick with an oval face shape is to wear your hair off the forehead to create some volume and angles on top,” says Stelios Nicolaou, Aveda Master Barber. “The most suitable style is a classic shorter cut: short on the side and slightly longer on the top, with a side-swept parting.”
You’ll also want to avoid a forward fringe. “Too much heaviness on the forehead softens features and increases roundness of the face,” says celebrity hair stylist Jamie Stevens.
And feel free to ditch the beard, says Adam Brady, Ruffians’ Trend Expert: “You don’t need facial hair to fill out any disproportionate gaps in this case, so feel free to go clean-shaven.”
Considered the masculine ideal, a square face shape is characterised by its strong, 50p-shaped jawline, even proportions and an overall chiselled appearance. Grrr.
Like the oval, it’s a great foundation for most styles and is versatile enough to work with both extremely short and longer hairstyles – from buzz cuts to French crops to quiffs. Just bear in mind that the shorter you go, the more you look like you’ve just been drafted. Not that that won’t serve you well.
“Classic, neat haircuts complement a square shape best – think close fades, side partings and short layers,” says Stevens. Some light stubble also gives the sharpness of your jawline a little welcome texture without blurring its line.
The longest of the face shapes, a rectangular face falls somewhere between an oval and a square, but requires a subtly tweaked hairstyle to ensure the face doesn’t appear even longer than it is.
“Because a rectangular face looks longer, it’s important to avoid taking the sides too short if keeping length on the top, as this would only accentuate the length of the face,” explains Nicolaou. “Try a well-proportioned style that doesn’t take the sides too short or leave too much length on top.”
Jamie Stevens suggests a style that lets hair fall to the sides and/or across the forehead to add width and ensure your face doesn’t appear narrower than it is.
Finally, never pair with a beard, says Adam Brady: “A full beard only elongates the face, so instead try facial hair that ranges in length from stubble to a short beard to fill out any gaps.”
Circular with a rounded chin and no obvious lines or angles, a round face shape benefits from a haircut that lends it some definition.
“If you’ve got a round face shape, think square,” says Jamie Stevens. “Since round faces have little in the way of natural angles, you need to create the illusion of structure with your hair. A style with height on the top that’s taken tight at the sides such as a pompadour or a flat top works well to add structure, as do front fringes.”
“Square corners in the high recession area of your hair will sharpen up any soft edges,” adds Adam Brady. “A full square beard will also help thin the chin area, giving the appearance of a more chiselled jaw.”
Narrow in the chin and brow, with width in the cheeks, the diamond is one of the rarer face shapes. Because of that, it has some specialist requirements to ensure it looks its namesake.
“Hairstyles that add width at the forehead and chin area are your best bet,” says Jamie Stevens. “Fringes work well to add texture to the forehead, while longer styles that can be tucked behind the ears are great for accentuating a diamond shape’s bone structure.”
Don’t, however, take the sides too short – given the width of the cheekbones, a hairstyle that’s particularly short at the sides will only make your ears look bigger.
Softer lines and layers are better for this face shape, working to soften its natural angles. Try a side sweep or deep side-parting, and consider growing a 5 o’clock shadow if you want to add some size to a narrower chin.
Wide at the temples and hairline, gradually narrowing to a point at the chin, the (fairly rare) heart face shape benefits from a few optical illusions to make it appear better proportioned.
“Avoid cuts that are very tight, as these will accentuate the narrowness of the chin and the width of the forehead,” says Stevens. “A mid-length swept look is the safest bet.” Mid-length and longer styles that are kept reasonably thin and light soften the heart shape’s strong forehead.
Facial hair is also key in this case, adding some much-needed bulk to a narrow chin and jawline. Says Brady: “As with the diamond face shape, a beard helps a heart shape gain fullness in the lower, narrower half of the head.”
Due to its narrow forehead and wide jawline, a triangular face requires the opposite treatment of a heart shape.
“A style with volume is king with this one,” says Jamie Stevens. “Longer, nose length haircuts with fuller sides add depth.”
As for the beard, the most you’ll look good with is some light stubble. But really, given the prominence of the jawline in this case, it’s best to steer clean-shaven.
Of course, more important than heeding the advice in this guide is consulting your barber or stylist. Have them assess your face shape next time you’re due a cut and see which style they think will best suit yours.
So which shape are you? And do you have any shape-specific tips to share?
Let us know below.
Illustrations by Leon Bowers For FashionBeans