September 14, 2010

Square, Round And All That's In Between

Did you know that the leaves on trees change colour because of the change in sunlight and not because of the drop in temperature??  I have known this for a while, but this time of year I always end up telling a lot of people about it. Everyone comments on the temperature  and says “ It’s gonna be a cold year because the leaves are already turning, “ That leaves me ( no pun intended ) to explain the above mentioned fact. So, now you all know why leaves change colour.

Enough about trees and leaves, I have a question to answer from a client and good friend Amanda Mullins who runs a blog entitled Frayed Threads; You can find a link to it on the right side of the page. Anyway, Amanda sent me this question, amongst a few others.

"One of the hardest things to decide when changing up my hairstyle is what colours would look good on me? I've read sites that say if your skin is "cool" or "warm" then certain colours will suit, and if you have an "oval" or "square" face, certain cuts, but how well does that really work? I usually just end up sitting in your chair and letting you do what you want, because I know it will be awesome, but if I wanted to plan it, how would I go about it?"

This is a long and intricate question to answer....and I am happy to do it as there is a lot of information floating around out there on what colour, haircuts, etc. you can and cannot wear. Here, I will hopefully make it easy to understand and easier for everyone to decide what look they would like. It is also good to understand that liking a hair style you see on celebrity does not mean that the stylist will be willing to or able to create that exact look on you. After today, though, I hope you will be able to see styles that you like and envision what they would look like on you and how the stylist may alter them to suit your body, face shape, colour and lifestyle.

I will start off with the basics of face shape.

There are roughly nine different face shapes.  (I say roughly because some people will classify them as six distinct shapes, putting a few of them into the same category. I prefer to use nine because it allows for a more wide range of ideas and solutions. )

To find your face shape, pull all your hair back off your face and look in a mirror. Trace the shape of your face (not the hair or ears) in the mirror with soap, lipstick or water (or whatever works) and look at the shape you drew. That is the shape of your face. The ideal shape, from a fashion and aesthetic standpoint, is the Oval shape and the goal is to create the illusion on an oval shape when doing hair or make-up. Keep in mind, however, that I am not saying that there is a right or wrong shape of face. Generally, oval shaped faces are the most flattering and most symmetrical.  However, if you love the way you look with a heart shaped face that’s great. But, let’s keep this basic.

Meghan Fox is a great example of an oval face shape.
Oval Face Shapes can wear any style you can think of. Cute little short crops to long waves will all work on this face shape. Because this is the ideal face shape there is no need to worry about creating the illusion of a different face shape. The only things to take into consideration here is if you have any features you would like to enhance, but that will come later.

Oblong Face Shapes are quite common and may appear to be oval at first glance, however, Oblong faces tend to be longer then ovals, with high foreheads and long chins. Generally, these faces are much thinner then they are long. Think of Sarah Jessica-Parker and Liv Tyler as stars who have oblong face shapes.

Live Tyler
To create the oval illusion with an oblong face, you want to add width to the cheek area or take away length from the forehead. I will use pictures of Liv Tyler as an example because I love that woman.

Full Bangs also bring out the eyes
Bangs help cover the forehead, bringing your eye to her eyes and below. By taking away the higher forehead, we have created a more oval shape. Bangs are also a great way to highlight and add intensity to eyes.

If bangs are not for you, another way to create an oval shape is to add more width to the cheek area like the picture on the right. This will add width or volume in the cheek area to even out an oblong face shape.

Faces look rounded when hair is pulled back.

Another common face shape is the Round Face Shape. This is a shape that is generally the same width as it is long, but it may vary slightly. If people have always been squeezing your cheeks then you probably have a round face.

 Oh, how I love Kate Winslet and it was very hard for me to find a photo of her that really showed off her face shape as she is always impeccably styled. One big think to avoid with round face shapes is heavy straight bangs and pulling your hair tightly off your face. A round shape needs height at the top to create length and a more smooth, less voluminous style around the cheeks to slim them down. 
Center parts slim round faces

A side part is your best bet with either a side sweeping bang or soft layering around the face. Keep layers and the all over length of the hair below your chin to help your face look longer. Centre parts are possible, just make sure to keep your hair soft and the part loose. Super straight and super curls are not a good match for round face shapes.

 Many times a Rectangular Face Shape will be put into the Oblong category, but I disagree with that. A rectangular face has a square chin and forehead whereas an Oblong shape is much softer and more rounded.

Avoid pulling hair off the face.
Do wear your hair soft.
I am not a huge fan of Angelina Jolie for multiple reasons, but she does have a very rectangular face and is a great example of what not to do and what to do. With rectangular faces, you want to avoid too much height on top and any harsh, straight, rigid hairstyles. To soften the angles, make sure you are getting lots of layering, especially around the face, and soft bangs. Anything solid, straight and heavy will accentuate these areas. If you do want the heavy and straight look, avoid have the straight lines of the hair cut fall at your chin. With bangs, keep them more rounded on the face.

Volume on top lengthens a square face
Square face shapes are very similar to rectangular face shapes with one exception. A square face benefits from height on top and long lengths falling below the chin. Short hair is possible with both rectangular and square face shapes but need to be kept quite soft and feminine.

Classic Triangle Shaped Face
 The Triangle and Inverted Triangle Face Shapes have the same styling needs just in opposite areas. A triangle shape is wider at the chin and narrower at the forehead where as an inverted triangle is wider at the forehead and narrow at the chin. Victoria Beckham has a classic inverted triangle shaped face. 

With the inverted triangle, adding volume to the forehead areas will create a wider looking forehead, emphasizing the triangle shape. With Victoria’s cut, it mostly works because the front layer or bangs are heavy enough and hang across the forehead to narrow it, however, it does emphasize the triangular shape of her face. Generally speaking, a side swept bang and volume or heaviness created at the chin will create a more even, oval face. Short hair also works with this shape, as long as the movement is kept on the top of the head.

Short hair can be great

Volume at the bottom evens out a diamond face.
Diamond Shapes are characterized by a narrow forehead and chin and wider cheeks. Creating width at the forehead and the chin or narrowing the cheeks helps create an oval shape. You want to avoid styles that widen at just the bottom or the top or that are voluminous at the cheeks.

  The last face shape I will talk about is the Heart Shape Face. The defining features of a heart shaped face is, usually ( but not always )  a widows peak on the hairline and a quite narrow jaw. Unlike the inverted triangle, heart shaped faces have wide cheeks and the narrowing starts below them.
Side sweeping bangs narrow a wide forehead
A bare forehead emphasizes the width

A side swept bang will help create height and narrowness through the top area where it is widest and volume at the chin helps even out the face shape.
If going for short hair it is good to keep longer pieces in the front to slim the sides of the face as well as keep all the movement and volume on top.

Besides face shape, there are whole bunch of other factors involved in choosing the right cut for you. Body shape, profile, the position and size of features on your face, all factor in.

Add a textured, heavy fringe to highlight eyes
To bring out eyes, as mentioned before, aim for bangs that frame the eyes. They should be quite heavy and full, but adding some texture in can be a good idea.

If you feel you have a large nose, wear a style that comes forward on the face to blend it in. In this case, you want to stay away from any cut that is cut back, away from the face. Also, cuts that have volume in the back help balance out the look.

Always keep in mind that strong, straight lines will draw the eye to that focal point. If you have a great jaw line you want to highlight, a sharp angled bob at the jaw lengths can enhance that.

One last key thing to remember: If you are a large person, you want to make sure you hair is in proportion to your body. Flat, very short hair styles will make your body appear bigger. On the flip side, if you are quite petite, very big, curly or voluminous hair will over power and make you look smaller.

These are some of the basic things to keep in mind when planning a hair cut. Since this is such a large topic, I will go into the colour side of this either later this week or at my regular blog time next week.

Until then, stay warm and happy hair days!


  1. I....have a question.....are bangs suitable for short foreheads???

  2. Hi there. Thanks for you question. I have a short forehead myself and do not wear bangs, however, they can be worn on short foreheads. I would stay away from really heavy, straight across bangs that would cause your forehead to look smaller. Instead I would look into a lighter fringe that sits quite short. ( Think Betty Page, but a little less heavy ) or you could do some really cute piecy bangs, again, quite short or an angled fring beginning really short on on side. The key for small foreheads is to keep the bangs small as well so they do not over take the face. : D