How to Choose the Right Haircut for Your Face Shape

When it comes to your clothing, fit is everything. A good tailor possesses the power to make you appear slimmer, more muscular and even taller with just a short time spent behind the sewing machine. But he or she isn’t the only person you should be making friends with for these reasons. Your local barber boasts a similar set of skills. Skills that when implemented with the same consideration to the shape of your face as a tailor would pay to the shape of your body, can work wonders overall.

So, just as you wouldn’t dream of wearing an ill-fitting jacket, nor should you sport an ill-fitting haircut. Instead, delve into Ape’s guide to picking the right haircut for your face shape, select a suitable hairstyle and watch in awe as your barber trims years off your appearance.

The Six Key Face Shapes

Naturally, the first step in finding the perfect tonsorial accompaniment for your face is to establish exactly what shape of face you possess. However, before you can do that you’ll need to be aware of the six key categories in order to best assess where you fall.


Your face is slightly longer up and down than it is wide. The jaw is slightly narrower than the forehead and tapers down towards the chin. Lines are fairly soft, as opposed to being harsh and angular.


The vertical and horizontal ratios of your face are almost identical and the sides curve out slightly as opposed to being straight.


Boasting a very masculine appearance, your jawline is pronounced and striking. In contrast to a round face, the sides are rather straight and there is less of a taper moving down towards the chin.


The difference in width between the top and bottom of your face is quite significant. Your forehead is quite prominent, tapering down into a slightly pointed chin.


If you spend a large portion of your time fending off ‘why the long face’ jibes this could well be you. Your face is drawn out and slim with straight sides and little difference in width from top to bottom.


Like the oval face shape, your cheekbones are the widest part of your face. However, unlike an oval, your bone structure is quite pointed and angular, with a narrow forehead and a narrow chin.

How to Determine Your Face Shape

If you’re going to do something, you might as well do it properly. So, before you go drawing various shapes on your bathroom mirror with toothpaste and seeing which one your face fits into best, try this tested method first.

  • Using a soft tape measure, measure across the widest part of your forehead, and from cheekbone to cheekbone. Jot the results down.
  • Then, take the tape and measure from your hairline, down the middle of your face to your chin. Make a note of this too.

Now, compare the first two results – the widest of which should be considered the width of your face. You can then use the length measurement, combined with the width, to work out which of the above categories most closely resembles your own face.

The Best Haircuts for Every Face Shape

Now that you’ve got all the information you need, it’s time to start thinking about a style to suit. The aim is to use your hair to balance out the proportions of your face in a way that looks natural and subtle. So before you get too comfortable in the barber’s chair, take a moment to browse the suggestions below and consider what sort of cut might work best for you.

Best Haircuts for Oval Faces

If you’ve determined your face to be oval shaped, congratulations – you’ve been blessed with what many would consider the holy grail of bone structures. As a result of this, you can happily wear almost any style you choose and it’ll look great.

The Right Haircut for Oval Faces and Shapes

That said, there are still a few things to be wary of. Adding too much height still isn’t a good idea; the length and width of your face are already well balanced so opting for this sort of cut could throw things out of whack.

Short, cropped styles will suit this face shape particularly well. If you’re stuck for inspiration, a timeless trim like a military crew cut or French crop is a very good place to start.

 Key points:

  • Don’t add too much extra height
  • Short styles are your friend
  • Feel free to experiment

Best Haircuts for Round Faces

Wide cheeks and soft lines can work together to create a babyish look, which funnily enough doesn’t tend to be top of most men’s wish lists when it comes to aesthetic traits.

The perfect hairstyle for round Face Shapes

In order to combat this, your most powerful weapon is height. Opting for a style with some added lift can work to elongate the face – think a pompadour, quiff or messy, textured cut on top. The latter is particularly good for those which also have thinning hair or a receding hairline.

Cropping the sides short can also make the head appear slimmer and take some of the roundness out of the cheeks. Ask your barber for a taper or fade on the back and sides, depending on how short you want to go.

 Key points:

  • Use hair on top to create height
  • Keep hair closely cropped at the back and sides

Best Haircuts for Square Faces

That strong, angular jawline is no doubt one of your proudest features. But combined with the uniform width of your cheekbones and forehead, it can be quite a harsh overall look. This is why your haircut should aim to soften the lines and round things off nicely. Not too much, mind.

How to pick the Right Haircut for a square Face Shape

Try a messy, mid-length style to frame the face and counterbalance the wideness of the jaw. If that doesn’t appeal and you like the idea of something more masculine then shorter options can work well too. Try an Ivy league cut with a close fade on the sides and team it with some short stubble to reduce the angular nature of your jaw.

 Key points:

  • Use texture to soften lines
  • Mid-length or short styles work best
  • Use stubble to smooth harsh angles around the jaw

Best Haircuts for Heart-Shaped Faces

Widest at the temples and tapering down to a point at the chin, heart-shaped faces aren’t the most common but can still be catered for with some clever barbering.

The Perfect Haircut for Heart Face Shapes

Steer clear of very short, buzzed or tapered haircuts, which will only accentuate the width of the forehead. Instead, opt for a mid-length style with a pompadour or some side-swept length to add a touch of height and make the temples appear narrower.

Experimenting with facial hair of some description is also a great idea as it can help to fill out the jaw and reduce the pointed look of the chin. Try a short, boxed beard or even a slightly longer style if it’s in keeping with your personal style.

Key points:

  • Length and volume on top
  • Avoid very short styles
  • Use facial hair to fill out the jawline

Best Haircuts for Rectangular Faces

When the face is naturally long it’s important not to add any additional length to it with your hair.

Right Haircut for Your Face Shape

Stay away from haircuts with very short sides and also of anything that creates too much height on top. Instead, ask your barber for a style that leaves enough length on top to play with while still staying relatively close to the head. A side-swept crew cut, an Ivy League hairstyle or slick-back can accomplish this.

When considering facial hair, it’s important to remember that the goal is to reduce length, not add to it. For this reason, long beards are best avoided and a short style or even just a smattering of stubble will help to elevate your look.

Key points:

  • Side-swept, brushed or slicked-back length on top
  • Keep volume to an absolute minimum
  • Go easy on the facial hair

Best Haircuts for Diamond-Shaped Faces

Narrow at the brow and chin, with the bulk of the width in the cheekbones, diamond-shaped faces can be tricky to cater for.

Right Haircut for Your Face Shape

Goal number one is to add width to the forehead, which can be done with either a fringed cut or a brushed-back style that leaves the brow fully exposed.

Facial hair can be used to create a similar effect south of the cheekbones, where a short, well-groomed beard will help to fill out the bottom of the face.

Key points:

  • A fringe will make the brow appear wider
  • Use a short, neat beard to do the same further down the face

Found the cut that perfectly frames your face? Your next step is to decide which hair products you should be using.

*Illustrations produced in house by Ape to Gentleman – republishing is not permitted unless credited and linked.

Paddy Maddison

Paddy Maddison is Ape's Style Editor. His work has been published in Esquire, Men’s Health, ShortList, The Independent and more. An outerwear and sneaker fanatic, his finger is firmly on the pulse for the latest trends, while always maintaining an interest in classic style.