While it’s definitely fun to change things up and go for the unexpected, there’s something to be said for a classic, flattering cut. Think of it as your home base—the style you can return to time and time again.
But selecting a signature haircut out of a sea of curly pixies and long waves can feel daunting. To make the task easier to navigate, we tapped top hairstylists George Papanikolas and Lorna Pollack, asking them to address all the factors that come into play when selecting a haircut, from face shape to maintenance. Read on for what they told us.
Meet the Expert
- George Papanikolas is a hairstylist, colorist, and Matrix brand ambassador who divides his time between the Andy Lecompte Salon in Los Angeles and the Rita Hazan Salon in New York.
- Lorna Pollack is a hairstylist at Kincloch Salon in Brooklyn, New York.
The Six Main Face Shapes
Before diving into haircuts based on your face shape, you’ll want to identify your face shape. The determining factors for this will be your forehead, cheekbones, and jaw.
If you have an oval-shaped face, the length of your face is usually a bit more than the width, with the forehead being your widest part.
In square faces, the length to width is nearly one to one, equal horizontally and vertically with a strong, angled jaw and minimal curve at the chin.
In round faces, the length and width ratio is about equal. The features are soft and rounded, with flatter cheekbones that stand out as the widest part of the face. Think of it as similar to a square face shape but with softer angles.
The heart-shaped face is characterized by a pointed, slim chin and wider forehead. It could also be considered an inverted triangle.
When the width of the forehead, cheeks, and jawline are nearly the same—or the distance from forehead to chin is a bit longer than the distance ear to ear—you’ve got an oblong/rectangular-shaped face.
Diamond-shaped faces are usually defined by high cheekbones, a pointy chin, and a narrower forehead.
Your Best Cuts, According to Face Shape
When it comes to the actual cut, both experts agree there isn’t one definitive way to go—rather, there are a few flattering and standard tips to accentuate some features and, as Pollack says, “move the eye away from other points of the face.”
Remember: You’re allowed to break the rules. You’re not taking an oath here. It’s all about finding your balance.
Oval face shapes can wear almost any style, but according to Papanikolas, the most flattering tend to be long layers, shoulder-length waves, full fringe, a layered bob, or a side-swept pixie. Pollack is partial to a strong, square bob, which brings focus to your balanced jawline.
Square face shapes may consider softening the edges around the forehead and strong jawlines; if that’s what you’re after, wavy shags with wispy fringe, soft side-swept bangs, or long layers with fringe work best. If you want to go short, Papanikolas recommends creating softer angles.
Pollack says round face shapes work well with a long bob, which draws the eyes down to visually lengthen the face. Papanikolas echos this, saying round faces do well with cuts that elongate, like long straight hair, long voluminous waves, shaggy bobs, and swoopy bangs with cropped sides.
Heart-shaped faces look best with blunt bangs and wavy layers or a chin-length bob with bangs. Soft angles in the front that start below the face help balance out the forehead, Pollack says. The key, according to Papanikolas, is to keep bangs narrow so that you can create the illusion of less width at the top.
Oblong/rectangular face shapes can take a similar approach to square faces: Soften the edges and strong jawlines with layers, volume, and side-swept or feathered fringe. Long layers and angles add movement and texture to the hair.
Diamond shapes can show off their high cheekbones with short-cropped hair or keep it long with face-framing layers. Bangs that hit around the cheekbone also accentuate this shape.
Bring in images of what you want your hair to look like. This gives the stylist a clear picture (pun intended) of what you’re looking for, and together you can customize the look to a style that works with your features.
All About Bangs: Cut, Texture, and Your Forehead
The debate is eternal: Supporters champion how fringe can transform your look, while naysayers harken back to childhood photos and ill-advised at-home chops. While we don’t recommend impulse bangs (yes, the fleeting urge does overtake us every once in a while), if you are considering adding them to your look, there are some things to consider:
Again: These aren’t hard-and-fast rules. But in general, these are the bang styles the pros would recommend based on face shape:
- Oval: Blunt
- Round: Side swept
- Square: Wispy fringe
- Diamond: Side-swept fringe
- Rectangle: Side-swept with feathered fringe
- Heart: Blunt and narrow
- Longer foreheads: If you have a longer forehead and want to distract from that area, bangs may be your best friend. Pollack says adding a chic blunt bang should do the trick.
- Shorter foreheads: A soft, side-swept fringe is well-suited to a shorter forehead. Papanikolas says the style provides a lengthening effect (or the illusion of such). Pollack seconds this: “If your forehead is smaller, I recommend keeping things light and soft so the bangs do not completely take over your face, therefore making your face look smaller,” she says.
Growing out bangs can be a long process, depending on how fast your hair grows. If you’ve gone for a fringe and regret it, try to be patient. Try cute hair accessories to distract during the in-between stage.
What Else Should I Keep in Mind?
Hair texture and type play a big role in finding your ideal style, Pollack says. Understanding what your hair does naturally—and what you’re willing to do to maintain a desired look—is of the utmost importance.
- Fine: Generally, fine hair should have the least amount of layering, so keep things blunt and short. “My favorite would be a blunt bob with limited texture and layers to maintain strength in your length,” Pollack says.
- Medium: A variety of lengths are possible here, Pollack says. Adding layers or texture can help with movement and minimal weight removal.
- Thick: With thick hair, you can get away with tons of layering, as long layers help with weight removal, debulk density, and help with day-to-day styling.
Styling and maintenance should be top of mind, especially if you are doing something against your natural texture, Papanikolas says https://www.serbagadget.id/.
- How frequently you’ll go to the salon: Pollack recommends getting your haircut every three or four months. If you’re the client who sees their stylist every six months (or more), she wouldn’t recommend getting a high-maintenance look like a pixie or blunt fringe; both experts note shorter cuts tend to be more high-maintenance and require more love than a long layered haircut. Papanikolas says longer hair and a feathered fringe tend to be more forgiving and can be stretched out.
- What you’re willing to do at home: Are you ready to blow-dry and flat iron your hair if you’re going for a sleek look? Can the cut work with your natural texture on days you don’t feel like styling it? Both experts recommend staying mindful of what you’re willing to invest—in terms of both time and product.
Is There a Universally Flattering Style?
If you’re a little overwhelmed by everything we’ve outlined above, a) remember, there are no rules, and b) there are a few haircuts that come as close to universally flattering as possible.
- Pollock tells us bobs are easily adjustable, from adding bangs to accommodating based on texture and length.
- Papanikolas says a shoulder-length cut with soft layers works on most people and face shapes. “It’s one of those cuts that you can’t really go wrong with,” he says.
- Or, try out a long, layered haircut, which Pollack says is a great way to spice up your hair if you aren’t “ready to do a big chop.” Plus, added angles in the front, which can vary in length, easily works for every individual face shape.