How To Choose A Flattering Haircut

I recently received an email from my friend who is getting her hair cut tomorrow afternoon & wanted to know how to choose a good haircut. She said:

It might follow on from your recent mention of your own haircut…

The best part about all of this is that I didn’t follow many of the below steps. My friend is doing training at the Biba Academy here in Melbourne, & they were being supervised by a guy from the Vidal Sassoon training school in London. The haircut was offered to me for free, & since I wanted to be helpful (& felt like I needed a bit of a shake up), I went in with no reservations & told them they could do as they pleased. I figured that even if it turned out hideously, I could write about it on here & if worst came to worst, well, I have a great collection of head-scarves!

Well, I had my hair cut yesterday & I am still dealing with mon nouveau visage. It was strange — when I was in the salon, I really liked what they were doing, but as soon as I got home I decided I looked like a boy. Looking in the mirror is a shock. At the moment I am kind of brushing it to the side, like I used to, but I think as I become more comfortable with the haircut I’ll start wearing it the way it’s supposed to be. I haven’t changed my hairstyle in a really long time, so this is taking some adjusting, but I think this sort of thing is good for the constitution… yessir.

With this in mind, here are the things I think are most important in terms of getting a haircut.

Either know what you want, or shut up.
Oh, I know, I’m so mean. Basically what I’m trying to say is that you either have a good idea of what you want as an end result, or you listen to your hairdresser & take their advice. I suggest having a little faith & crossing your fingers, it’s always more exciting that way — but if you want something specific be sure to COMMUNICATE WELL.
Develop a relationship with your hairdresser.
No, that doesn’t mean taking them home to your mother! Your most valuable asset in getting a good haircut is having a stylist whose opinion you trust. You will probably need to shop around until you find someone you really like. The most expensive hairdresser is not necessarily the best, either. A great hairdresser should make you feel at ease, make suggestions, listen to your opinion & have a good haircut themselves! You wouldn’t take financial advice from someone who was broke, would you? Same applies here.
Think about your lifestyle & what the climate is like where you live.
In the mornings, do you like to fiddle with products, straighteners, spray-in conditioners or do you like to just get up & go? Are you active? Do you go swimming a lot? (If so, I would advise against going platinum blonde!) Is the humidity likely to make your hair go limp? Is the wind going to blow it out of shape? Is your working environment conservative or relaxed? Do you often wear hats or head-scarves? Do you drive a convertible? All of these things will have an impact on what kind of hairstyle is going to work for you.
Consider your hair texture.
Is your hair straight, curly or wavy? If your hair kinks into ringlets, you’re never going to have a sleek bob. Similarly, if your hair is straight & you would like to look “Botticelli-esque” (did anyone catch the Sex & The City reference?), you’re going to have a hard time.
Remember that you’re not going to look like Jennifer Aniston even if you get the “Rachel”.
(Though, dear god, why you’d want to is beyond me.) Okay, so that’s a very 90’s reference, but you get my point, right? Celebrity haircuts are not going to change your face. Also, a lot of those haircuts require HOURS of styling. Hairstyle magazines always used to trap me, because I would look at the hot model & forget about the hair. Don’t fall for that. Cover their face with your fingers if you have to. Stay focussed!
Be open-minded.
Your hairdresser probably knows what he or she is doing. If you have a weird fly-away that has always existed, you should let them know, but ultimately, they’re the one with the training. Some of the worst haircuts happen when you agree with your hairdresser but then put limitations on what they can do halfway through — so the creative vision isn’t entirely realised, & you end up with a drastically asymmetric cut at the back & a conservative fringe/bangs, for example.
Having said that… speak your mind.
If you don’t like what they’ve done, or they haven’t done what they said they would, you don’t have to pay — or they should at least fix it up for free.
Work out your face shape.
This is a crucial step, as it will make the difference between something that makes you look horsey, bloated or gorgeous.

Here’s how to work out your face shape:
There are a few ways, so I’ll let you take your pick. The first is to tie (or hold) your hair back off your face, look in a mirror, & try to figure it out. The second is to outline the shape of your face in lipstick (or a whiteboard pen) on a mirror. The third is to use maths (not my bag, but maybe it’s yours). Here’s how you do it. Get a tape measure & measure across the top of your cheekbones, across your jaw from widest point to widest point, across the widest part of your forehead & from the tip of your hairline to the bottom of your chin. Write down the measurements, then compare them. If your face is oval, the length will be equal to one & a half times the width. If you’re round-faced, your face is pretty much as wide as it is long. Oblong, your face is longer than it is wide. Heart-shaped faces are narrow at the jaw & wide at the cheekbones or forehead. If your face is square it will be about as wide as it is long — like a round face, but you should be able to see the squareness in your face pretty easily. If you have a diamond-shaped face, it will be widest at the cheekbones with a narrow forehead & jaw which measure about the same.

Please excuse the celebrity pictures, it’s just the easiest way to show different haircuts on the same face shape!

Oval faces:
Women: Most hairstyles are going to look good on you, so be happy! Short cuts look as good on you as medium-length or long hair. One thing you should avoid is a heavy fringe/bangs. There are a lot of celebrities with your face shape — Cameron Diaz, Uma Thurman, Julia Roberts, Tyra Banks (though her forehead is FIERCE), & Elle Macpherson.
Men: As above, most hairstyles are going to suit you very well. Experiment! Short hairstyles will be great on you, & you can get away with longer hair too. Just be sure to keep it in good condition (regular haircuts & a good conditioner will work wonders). Other people with your face shape include Shaquille O’Neal & Kid Rock.
Oval-shaped faces

Oblong or square faces:
Women: You should go for short or medium styles, to balance the length of your long face. A lot of hair at the side of your face will suit you. A soft fringe or bangs will shorten the length of your face too. If you wear your hair too long, you risk looking horsey, so keep it above shoulder-length for best results. These celebrities have oblong faces — Gwyneth Paltrow, Janet Jackson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Giselle Bundchen.
Men: If you have a square face, you will look best with a style that enhances your face shape. A faux-hawk will really suit you, or anything short with a flat top or messy kind of look. Look at pictures of Nick Lachey, Enrique Iglesias & Matt Damon for inspiration.
Oblong-shaped faces
Oblong-shaped faces

Round faces:
Women: Try a style with a lot of volume on the top of your head, an off-centre part or anything longer than chin-length. Fullness on the crown with the rest of your hair cut in close to the sides of your face will make your face appear longer & thinner. You should stay away from anything chin-length & rounded, as you’ll look like you’re wearing a helmet. Also avoid a straight fringe or bangs. Not flattering! See Kate Bosworth, Kirsten Dunst, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Drew Barrymore & Christina Ricci for ideas.
Men: Your goal is to make your face look slimmer & longer. This can be achieved by an off-centre part or curls at eye-level. You can also try styling your facial hair to balance out your shape. If your hairline is receding, longer hair in the back will help off-set this. Stevie Wonder pulls this off well.
Round-shaped faces

Heart faces:
Women: Go for chin-length or longer styles. A bob that ends at your chin will make your face look more equally proportioned. You should try something that emphasises your cheekbones — a dramatic pixie cut will look great on you. You shouldn’t go for something with a lot of height at the crown of your head. These gals have heart-shaped faces too: Katie Holmes, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lopez & Reese Witherspoon.
Men: don’t usually have heart-shaped faces. Next!
Heart-shaped faces

Diamond faces:
Women: Almost everything works for you. Try not to wear too much hair on your face, as you probably have super features. Other women with your face shape include the glamourous Katharine Hepburn, Linda Evangelista & Sophia Loren.
Men: You’ll look best with a deep, full fringe/bangs. It will soften the appearance of your forehead. If your beard is trimmed into a rounded or square shape this can also help de-emphasise your chin.
Diamond-shaped faces

What now?
The above information should give you a guide as to what suits your face. Now is the time to do some research. Check out the links below & if you can, go & pick up some hairstyle magazines. Bookmark the ones you like & take them to your hairdresser. If you’re not sure about the salon, most places will do a free consultation, & this will give you a good indication as to their competence. When you make your appointment, be sure to clearly communicate any concerns. Another tip: when they’re styling your hair at the end, ask them for tips on how you can replicate it at home.

Extra For Experts:
Mad Rad Hair on Livejournal. On the info page are links to photobucket accounts full of pictures of people with great hair.
Best & Worst Haircuts for oval face shapes at about.com
“Virtual Hairstyle” at UK Hairdressers
Hairstyle Gallery for men & women

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