July 19, 2013 at 1:54 PM ET
Finding a hairstyle for your face shape could be the simple solution to bad hair days. If you rarely leave the salon chair satisfied, you might be choosing haircuts and hairstyles that work against your face shape, rather than picking what will flatter it most.
Gabriel Samra, stylist, salon owner and beauty expert on Telemundo’s Un Nuevo Día, says that finding the best hairstyle for face shape is always his starting point with a new client. “It’s the first piece of information you’ll need to help you achieve your perfect look,” he explains.
Start by measuring your face. Grab a flexible tape-measure—the kind seamstresses use—so it’s easy and comfortable to measure your facial features.
1. Width: Measure from ear to ear, just below the eyes.
2. Length: Starting at the hairline, bisect your forehead down to the tip of your chin and jot down the measurement.
Next, do the math. Now that you’ve got your numbers, use the guidelines below to determine your face shape.
Have a width-to-length ratio of 1:1.5? Lucky girl: You can rock every style under the hairstyle sun (except, maybe, a mullet). So go ahead and show your stylist that photo of Eva Longoria's waves or Jessica Alba’s new bob—chances are you can pull it off.
If the length of your face is more than 1.5 times its width, you’re in good company: Many models, including Gisele Bundchen, have oblong faces. To counterbalance the length, look for hairstyles that draw the eye laterally from one side of your face to the other. Bold bangs will do the trick, as will long bobs (“lobs”) with volume at the sides. As for styling, half-up styles can add the illusion of width—or make a braid at each ear and pin them away from your face behind your head. The one look to avoid? Super-long, straight hair, which will draw the eye down.
Have soft facial features and a length-to-width ratio of 1:1? Your face falls into the round category. To create a slimmer, more ovular proportion, choose a hairstyle with distinct sections to “divide” the face. This can mean lots of long layers at your jaw, neck and shoulders (any higher and they can add width), side-swept bangs or a choppy pixie cut, like Michelle Williams', with volume at the crown. Color is another great way to offset a round face; ask your stylist for highlights and lowlights on the lower sections of hair—or try the ombre hair trend in which hair is faded toward the bottom!
If your measurements are the same as round, but you have angular features, your face shape is square. Like Heidi Klum, with her razor-sharp cheekbones and jawline, your hair goal is softness and touchability. Loose waves near your temples, ears and chin will do the trick beautifully—and work on any length. If you prefer a shorter cut, go for a pixie that can be styled with a flatiron.
If you’re narrow at the chin with wide cheeks and a broad forehead, you’ve got yourself a heart-shaped face, a la Reese Witherspoon. Look for cuts and styles that rivet attention on your eyes and cheekbones, such as side-swept bangs and short, wispy cuts with soft pieces around your brows. Avoid a very blunt fringe, though, which can emphasize a wide forehead.
Have wide, high-set cheekbones, but are narrow at the forehead and jaw? Your face shape, like Liz Hurley and Scarlett Johansson is a diamond. Instead of trying to work against your shape, choose a style that shows off your gorgeous bone structure. A loose upsweep highlights killer cheekbones, as do short, ear-length layers.
Jane Johnson is a contributing writer on iVillage. Follow her on Google+.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.