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Knowing Your Face Shape

Have you ever spent weeks combing magazines for a new hairstyle, searching for looks that would work with your hair type? Upon finding one, you take the picture to your stylist who duplicates it down to the last layer. You stare at your new self - the style is gorgeous and works so well with your hair type. So why does it look so bad? You probably didn't take your face shape into consideration. A hairstyle chosen without your face shape in mind can distort your features by changing the balance of your face. A simple rule is that hair should be wide where your face is narrow and vice versa, and hair should have length where your face is square and vice versa.

There are several methods you can use to determine your face shape. The easiest is to ask your stylist. The next easiest is to pull your hair off your face and simply look. Often, your face is noticeably square, or oblong, or oval.

If it's not, grab a bar of soap, a tube of lipstick, or an eyeliner and stand at least 6 inches (15 cm) from a mirror. Using whatever you've got in your hand, trace the shape of your face in the mirror. Match the shape you scrawled to one of the following descriptions: Oval is considered the perfectly balanced face, making it a beauty ideal.

Featuring a softly rounded hairline and a jaw line that is a smudge narrower than the temples, it can handle any hairstyle that works with your hair type. If you'd like to show off your lucky shape, avoid on-the-face looks that hide your features. If you've got a round or square face, avoid center parts, which can emphasize the face's fullness. Instead, try parting your hair deep on the side to slim the face. Round faces are, well, round.

If creating a slimmer look is important to you, try to keep fullness away from the sides (no Farrah feathers or curly bobs) and create length at the top or bottom (or both) of the style. Styles to make a round face look longer include short or long cuts with ultra-short bangs, French twists, long-layered cuts with sleek sides, and side-swept bangs.

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