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Face shape

How to Choose a Hairstyle for Your Face Shape: A Barber’s Guide


Have you ever walked out of the barbershop with the feeling that something was just…off? If you can’t quite put your finger on why your new style doesn’t seem to suit you, chances are it isn’t the haircut at all. When I started my barbering apprenticeship, one of the most poignant lessons I learned was that nailing a perfect haircut does not necessarily mean it will look good on the client. More often than not, I see guys walk out of the salon with flawlessly executed styles that demonstrate the technical ability of the hairdresser but simply do not match their proportions. Knowing how to choose a hairstyle for your face shape is perhaps the most important element in ensuring you receive a quality haircut that is flattering, balanced and, above all, replicable.

In my time as a men’s hairdresser and barber, I’ve found that a lot of guys struggle with this concept, and rightly so. After all, in the same way that a great suit tailors to the contours of your body, a quality haircut should be tailored to the natural contours of your face and bone structure, adjusting for hair type. Believe it or not, there are several factors involved in learning how to determine face shape among men and then how to choose a haircut accordingly. To make things easier, I’ve compiled a handy barber’s guide on face shapes and men’s hairstyles, detailing how to determine your face shape and what style will work best.

How to Determine Your Face Shape

First and foremost, you need to identify your face shape. While some guides might suggest you do strange things like outline your face in the mirror using a bar of soap, the easiest way to determine this is through images. Set up a camera (make sure it is positioned at shoulder or head height), set the focal length to around 25mm as this is natural to what the eye sees (or 1x zoom on iPhone) and take a photo of your face standing around 1 metre away.

From here, you can identify the key points on your face. Starting in the middle of your forehead at the base of your hairline, draw a line to the widest part of your temple. Follow that line down to the widest part of your jaw before moving in the centre of the jaw along the chin. Make your way back around the other side of the jaw, up to your temple and back to the middle of your forehead.

By doing this, you will be able to identify if you have a pointy chin, pronounced jawline, or any of the other characteristics that make your face unique. Of course, if you’d rather take a more rigorous approach, by all means, grab a tape measure and get to work measuring the following areas:

  1. Forehead: Measure the distance between the top of one eyebrow to the top of the other eyebrow.
  2. Cheekbones: Locate the pointiest part of one cheekbone (right below the eye) and measure across to the pointiest part of the opposite cheekbone.
  3. Jawline: Start at the tip of your chin and measure up in one direction to the corner of the jawbone, right below the ear. Multiply that number by two for an accurate jawline measurement.
  4. Face Length: Start at the centre of your hairline and measure down to the tip of your chin.
Types of face shapes
The seven most common face shapes for men | Image: Pinterest

Types of Men’s Face Shapes

Now that you have identified a basic face shape, you are able to better understand the natural flow of hair, key characteristics and what key areas you wish to accentuate or hide. Having a bold geometric outline on the mirror or some precise measurements will be integral in determining your face shape. Note the seven most common face shapes for men below:

  1. Oblong: Your face length is the longest measurement while your forehead, cheekbones, and jawline are almost equal in size.
  2. Square: Your face, jawline, forehead, and cheekbones are all more or less the same length. Meanwhile, your jawbone angles are sharp and not curved or round.
  3. Oval: Your face is longer than the width of your cheekbones and your forehead measurement is greater than the jawline. Meanwhile, your jawline angles are round and not sharp.
  4. Round: Your cheekbones and face measurements are similar, and your forehead and jawline measurements are similar. Furthermore, those cheekbone and face measurements are greater than the jawline and forehead measurements. Meanwhile, the jawline sports soft, semi-round angles as opposed to sharp or clearly defined angles.
  5. Diamond: Your chin is pointy, and your face is the longest measurement. Then the measurements go from greatest to smallest in the following order: cheekbones, forehead, and jawline.
  6. Triangular: Your jawline is wider than your cheekbones, which are wider than your forehead.
  7. Heart: Your forehead is wider than your cheekbones and jawline, and your chin is pointy.
How to choose a hairstyle for your face shape types of mens face shapes

Face Shape Haircut Guide

Using the information gathered, you can use the following male face shape and hairstyle guide to determine the cut that’s right for you. For instance, some men with heart-shaped faces want to cultivate the natural pointedness of their chins rather than conceal that pointedness. Most importantly, you get a good sense of the relationship between face shapes and male hairstyles and then proceed accordingly. It’s not as simple as oblong vs oval face, there are a a number of variables at play.

Oblong face shape
Ben Affleck’s high forehead is characteristic of an oblong face shape | Image: Getty Images

Oblong Face Shape

Oblong Face Shape Characteristics:

  • Longer than it is wide, with a balanced jawline, cheekbones and chin.
  • Forehead is often high, and the overall impression can be one of a long face.

Flattering Styles:

  • Side Part – A classic option that adds volume to the hairline and fringe.
  • Textured Fringe – A textured fringe that falls across the forehead adds dynamism to the cut.
  • Crew Cut – For those wanting to keep the hair on top short.

Oblong face shapes are among the most common in men, particularly as they age. This face shape is best characterised by the width of the forehead, which is the broadest section of the face, while the cheekbones and jawline are similar in length. Most men with this face shape will also have a pointed chin may be pointed and the sides of the face will likely be quite straight. Most notably, the oblong face shape is elongated, leading to a tall structure with otherwise balanced proportions.

When it comes to the best styles for oblong face shapes, the most important considerations are volume and width. Avoid tapered faux hawks or pompadours with deep fades or anything that pairs long hair on top with much shorter lengths around the sides, as this can ultimately make the face appear even longer.

Instead, look for styles that create the illusion of a wide face to balance the length and height. I would definitely recommend a classic Side Part as it helps to add volume to the edges of the hairline, giving the forehead greater width. Similarly, a textured fringe that falls across the forehead can be styled to increase width and gives a more relaxed and casual vibe. Ultimately, a buzz cut or crew cut will also work, reducing the height on top and giving you a more uniform silhouette overall.

Daniel Radcliffe's broad forehead and sharp jaw angle is reminiscnet of a square face shape | Image: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for the Roku Channel
Daniel Radcliffe’s broad forehead and sharp jaw angle is reminiscnet of a square face shape | Image: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for the Roku Channel

Square Shaped Face

Square Face Shape Characteristics:

  • Broad forehead and jawline with a sharp jaw angle.
  • Almost equal width across the forehead, cheekbones and jaw.

Flattering Styles:

  • Asymmetrical Styles – Angled fringes and side partings help to throw off the balance and detract from the square shape of the head
  • Short, Back and Sides – A classic for a reason. Keeping the sides short and top long gives the illusion of height.

Finding a quality men’s hairstyle for square face shapes isn’t always easy. The boxy nature of the head shape doesn’t necessarily lend itself well to more contemporary cuts and without proper styling, can lead to a uniform, almost military-esque aesthetic. In my opinion, hairstyles that work to soften the angles of the face will work best, giving you more options to play with.

For a more classic look, I generally recommend a short, back and sides or side parting. The asymmetrical nature of the side part throws off the perceived uniformity of the face shape and makes things look a little more interesting. Additionally, this men’s hairstyle is incredibly versatile, as the amount of hair on either side of the part is entirely up to you. That being said, greater length on top will create the illusion of height, which can work well to offset the square shape. For a more contemporary look, an angled fringe will also be a great option as it adds something visual that draws the eye away from the jawline.

If you want to add facial hair, you’re best off going really short (i.e. stubble) or fairly long. You’ll probably want to go short on top if pairing with a beard. Also, try to keep those sideburns short. The biggest thing to remember with a square face shape is the illusion of height and the emphasis on creating contrasting vertical lengths, either on top or with a beard.

Jake Gyllenhaal has balanced proportions, characteristic of an oval face shape | Image: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
Jake Gyllenhaal has balanced proportions, characteristic of an oval face shape | Image: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Oval Face Shape

Oval Face Shape Characteristics:

  • Balanced proportions – The face is longer than it is wide, but not exaggerated.
  • The widest part of the face is at the cheekbones, gently slopping towards the jawline.

Flattering Styles:

  • Pretty much anything
  • Pompadours – Add some nice volume to the front of the hair
  • Messy Textured Cuts – This face shape is perfect for experimentation so you can get away with looking a bit more unkempt.

When I was barbering, one of my pet peeves was guys who constantly wanted to change their style. We would spend weeks perfecting the length, and I would detail extensively how to style a cut, only to have them return a week later and ask for something completely different. Most of the time, it was a major frustration, but not when it came to those clients with oval face shapes.

The highly desirable shape lends itself perfectly to essentially any style, easily adapted and maneuvered to suit changing trends. This is due to the face shape’s balanced proportions and wide, high cheekbones that gently slope towards to jawline (think of every male model you’ve ever seen).

This kind of face shape works really well for short and tight styles, particularly if you have a strong jawline, so you can definitely cop that Zayn Malik look if that is to your liking. Alternatively, I’ve always found a pompadour is a great option for those who want to add a little height and texture, but make sure that you keep the back and sides short and sharp. Any style where the hair is brushed up at the fringe will give some nice volume and this is the perfect face shape to test out new things.

Round face shape
Leonardo DiCaprio has a classically round face shape | Image: Dia dipasupil/Getty Images

Round Face Shape

Round Face Shape Characteristics:

  • Full cheeks and a curved jawline.
  • Short face length compared to width.

Flattering Styles:

  • Pompadour – This hairstyle will elongate the face, giving you the illusion of height to balance the wider lower jawline.
  • Textured Crop – A short style that adds texture to the top, giving you the illusion of height. For a more extreme variation, ask for a skin fade on the side and play around with the best length for the fringe.

Since round faces tend to lack hard lines or definition, a nice angle-heavy haircut can do wonders. That means emphasising structure and volume as much as possible, rocking plenty of definition up top to make up for the lack below. Keeping things short on the sides with a fade helps to create a nice contrast that draws the eye upwards, which ultimately creates the illusion of height. If you have this kind of face shape, you really want to elongate the general silhouette of the head, so anything with a bit of volume and height will be your friend.

I would recommend avoiding any style where the hair protrudes out at the sides, so stay away from medium-length scissor cuts and really focus on the contrast between length on top and sharp, clean lines on the sides. Additionally, long hair without layers can weigh down the face and make it appear rounder.

You can do no wrong coupling a quality pompadour with a hard side part or even a part on both sides–anything to give that head more definition. Finish off the stylish look with a square beard and no one will be able to tell you have a severe case of babyface. So finding a haircut for round-face men might at first seem difficult, but it’s certainly not impossible.

Diamond face shape
Cillian Murphy’s diamond face shape is highly versatile | Image: JC Olivera/Getty Images

Diamond

Diamond Face Shape Characteristics:

  • Narrow forehead when compared to the cheekbones.
  • Sharply pointed chin that is narrower than the forehead.

Flattering Styles:

  • Messy Top – This style adds volume and texture on top, softening the jawline.
  • High Fade with Fringe—This extreme cut adds more width to the top of the hair and accentuates your cheekbones.

The defining characteristic of a diamond face shape is undoubtedly the chiselled jawline. Due to this pronounced feature, the face shape is considered extremely masculine, giving a more angular and defined look than a square or rounded shape. That being said, it can be a difficult one to style. Short, blunt cuts can actually accentuate the sharpness of the jawline, which might sound good in theory, but can ultimately offset the balance of your facial features.

Instead, I recommend men with diamond face shapes opt for layered cuts that have strong, sweeping sections. A messy fringe will add some nice texture to the forehead of narrow face men and paired with a high fade, makes for a great contemporary option. The key is to keep the hair relatively long and layered and the angles soft, which will play off the pointy facial features. In general, you want to create a sense of balance by adding width to the forehead and softening the sharpness of the jawline.

While typically, I would recommend a short cut, there are some decent longer and medium length men’s hairstyles for diamond face shapes. I really like the look of a modern mullet or wolfcut on a diamond face shape, as it works with the natural flow of the hair, rather than against it. In most cases, pulling the hair will accentuate the width of the forehead, but with this style, the sharpness of the sideburns pulls the eye downwards, while the natural flow gives some dynamism to the overall look.

Triangle face shape
Kumail Nanjiani’s wide jawline is typical of a triangular face shape, although his cheekbones are still quite pronounced | Image: Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

Triangular Face Shape

Triangular Face Shape Characteristics:

  • Wider jawline with narrow cheekbones and forehead
  • Prominent chin

Flattering Styles:

  • Layers – Opting for a style that has layered sections will draw attention away from the jawline.
  • Length – Longer-hair gives some shape and balance to the face shape.

In my professional opinion, I think the triangular face shape is the most challenging to pair with a suitable style. The pronounced jawline is offset by a narrow forehead and cheekbones, with can throw off the general facial balance. As a result, short, sharp cuts are an absolute no-go, as they tend to emphasise the disrepency between wide and narrow sections.

Instead, your goal should be to add width and volume to the top half of your face to balance the strong jawline. For this reason, I recommend going with a hairstyle that elongates the top section, such as pompadour or brush-back. Any hairstyle that adds texture to the top will draw the eye upwards, so provided you keep the sides short and give yourself enough to play with on top, you will be fine.

The reason while triangular face shapes for men’s hairstyles are difficult is because they aren’t versatile. There is only a small amount of styles that work with this face shape and once a guy find one that works, he tends to stick with it forever. In recent years, there has been a swing back to medium-length styles and I think this has been especially successful for men with triangular face shapes. In this case, I’d opt for a longer style with a swept-back fringe in order to add balance and creates width across the forehead. What’s most important is that you keep the hair thick and flowing, even if that means using a little extra volumising hair product.

Heart face shape
A pointed chin like Ryan Gosling’s is indicative of a heart face shape | Image: Getty Images

Heart Shaped Face

Heart Face Shape Characteristics:

  • Wider forehead and cheekbones compared to the jawline.
  • Pointed chin is the narrowest part of the face.

Flattering Styles:

  • Forward-Facing Textured Fringe – Minimises the width of the forehead.
  • Medium-Length Curly Hair – Works to add volume and width around the jawline, creating the illusion of balance.

A heart-shaped face means a pointed chin, thus a narrow haircut will emphasise literal sharpness. As a result, you want a haircut that will create the illusion of visual balance by minimising the width of forehead. You can achieve this in two ways; styling the hair forward to minimising the visual impactor the forehead or adding volume and width to the jawline,

I’ve always found that longer, softer styles like a mid-length side-swept part, layered quiff, or textured fringe are effective at making the face seem fuller without being too heavy. In simple terms, you want the hair to cover your forehead or face in some way, so avoid Slicked Back styles, strong contrasts and anything that exposes the hairline. I would recommend employing a lightweight hair product to ensure no hard angles emerge and if you can, grow a nice beard to create a sense of fullness on that narrow jawline.

Hair for your face shape

Things to Consider When Choosing a Hairstyle

Crucially, face shape is not necessarily the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to hairstyle direction. Other external factors also play a significant role in whether a specific hairstyle will work for you. Here are some other elements to consider when selecting a hairstyle, outside of your basic facial structure.

Hairline

It’s the unavoidable fact of ageing but those luscious locks won’t stay as thick and voluminous as you get older. Even those who don’t suffer from male pattern balding will see some thinning and receding sections at the corners of the hairline. A changing hairline, while completely normal, may be something that you are concerned about and this will ultimately factor into your hairstyle selection. My advice here is to not let it dictate your every move.

When I first noticed some slight receding in the edges of my hairline, I completely changed my style and adopted a French crop that definitely did not suit me. Thankfully, it was the beginning of the end for me and my partial thinning was just a sign of hitting my late 20s. I’ve since returned to a more normal length in the fringe, however, kept that slight forward hair direction in order to cover up the more prominent receding sections.

Facial Feature Prominence

Even for men, having sharp, prominent features is often viewed as a challenge by modern Western beauty standards. Smaller, less angular features tend to appear more childlike and youthful, so by contrast, an elongated nose, heavy sunken eyes and an overly prominent chin can make you appear older. When it comes to choosing a hairstyle, you want to look for something that softens these features rather than accentuates them.

As a pro tip, if you are unsure – take a photo of your side profile and note how far these features protrude from your cheek and forehead line. For those like me, who have an elongated nose and an exaggerated side profile, avoid styles where the hair is pulled all the way back. Slick-backs, ponytails and other cuts where the hair direction uniformly back accentuates the high forehead and draws more attention to areas that jut out from the facial structure. Instead, consider a shorter style that is brushed forward or to the side, as it adds some volume and draws attention away from those overly dominant features.

Hair Density

If your hair is light and sparse, attempting a hairstyle that requires significant volume, such as a slick-back or modern mullet, will likely not work out well. Where the density is low, consider hairstyles that prioritise full coverage, so forward-directional cuts that feature messy styling will ultimately be best. This is because they create the illusion of volume with the necessity of length.

Hair Texture and Characteristics

Not to be confused with hair density, texture refers to the way the hair presents at the follicle base. This will dictate the degree to which the hair is coarse or soft, and any good barber will note this in their consultation. This is because coarse hair, often seen in people of Asian, Middle Eastern and African heritage, will need to be cut differently to account for the tight connection this hair has with the skin and pores.

Similarly, the texture of their hair will dictate the growth characteristics, most notably in whether the hair is straight, curly, sharp or soft. It sounds simple enough, but understanding the growth pattern of your hair is just as important as choosing a hairstyle that suits your face shape. If you’ve got straight Asian hair, it’s not likely that you will be able to pull off an Afro mullet (at least not without chemical help). Always note your hair growth characteristics and texture prior to selecting a new style.

Styling

When it comes to selecting a new hairstyle, it is important to be honest with yourself. If you opt for a cut that requires extensive daily styling, you must be committed to doing it every morning. In times when I had a long slick back, it required at least 10-15 minutes of pre-styling, blow-drying and product application, which I initially thought I could accomplish. Within about a week, I had dropped the entire morning routine in order to snag a few extra minutes of sleep. As a result, I arrived at work looking more dishevelled and unkempt than I did pre-haircut. When you go in for your consultation with the barber, make sure you understand and acknowledge the level of styling necessary for the haircut.

Why Trust Our Men’s Hairstyle Advice?

As a qualified hairdresser and barber with an SHB30516 Certificate III in Barbering from The Queensland Hairdressing Academy, Nick Hall is an expert on men’s haircuts and styles. Prior to joining Man of Many as Editor-in-Chief, he spent five years as a senior stylist at Brisbane salon The Chopspot and two years at Sydney-based barbershop Kings Domain. The men’s hairstyle expert has personally chosen every haircut on this list, providing extensive first-hand details and insights related to each style.

On the lookout for more men’s hairstyles, haircuts and pointers? Be sure to check out the links below:

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