“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” —Coco Chanel. We’ve all made the mistake of walking into the hair salon with a picture of Jennifer Aniston or Taylor Swift and walking out looking like…well, not like the picture. But here’s the hard truth, ladies: It’s not fair to your stylist or yourself to have unreasonable expectations of what your “dream” haircut will look like in reality. Understanding your face shape and your hair’s texture and type is key to choosing the right style for you — and guaranteeing you’ll walk out of the salon happy with the result.

Melanie Andersen

What’s the Shape of Your Face?

Figuring your face shape is the first step to choosing a haircut that will be flattering on you. Do you have a round face like Kirsten Dunst or Michelle Williams? This shape is widest at the cheeks, with the length and width nearly the same. Or is your face closer to Beyoncé or Kim Kardashian? Then you have an oval face. People with this face shape tend to have a wider forehead and a jawline that tapers down to the chin. Is your jawline a prominent feature on your face, with your cheekbones and forehead aligned with it? Then you have a square face like Olivia Wilde and Keira Knightly. People with long faces, like Sarah Jessica Parker and Liv Tyler, tend to have an oblong shape from chin to hairline. A heart-shape face has a strong taper to the chin, which many times is pointy and can also have a prominent forehead. Selena Gomez and Reese Witherspoon are good examples of this type of face. Finally, a diamond-shape face is quite angular, especially at the cheekbones, and tends to be wider at the temples. This is the least common of face shapes and is well expressed on Ashley Greene and Rihanna.

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Melanie Andersen

What’s the Type and Texture of Your Hair?

Once you’ve figured out what shape face you have, knowing the type and texture of your hair is the next important step in deciding the best style for you. If you have any wave or curl, it needs to be treated differently than super-straight hair. Is your hair fine or coarse? Coarse hair tends to be thick and slightly to severely dry. Fine hair is limp and lays flat to the head. It’s important to know the type of hair you have, because not all haircuts will work with all types of hair. A choppy, short bob will look chic and modern on a woman with fine hair, but a woman with thick, coarse hair will run the risk of this style losing its shape and becoming frizzy because it needs the weight of their hair to help control it.

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Melanie Andersen

Haircuts for Round Faces

If your face shape is round, you’re looking for styles that lengthen and create definition. Long layers will help to form the illusion of a longer face. If you want a shorter look, opt for a “lob,” or longbob, or an asymmetrical bob, which has an angular appearance that will give your face definition. Both of these looks should be below the jawline. Stay away from short layers or any styles that add volume to the areas around the sides of your face -- these will make your face appear more round.

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Melanie Andersen

Haircuts for Oval Faces

Lucky girls with oval-shape faces can rock just about any style. This face shape has just enough length and width, and everything is in balance, so be adventurous! But don’t forget about your hair texture: Just because you have the ideal face shape for most cuts doesn’t mean your hair type will allow for your desired style. If you have thick hair, try long, tousled layers. If your hair is fine, get crazy and try a pixie cut. Bottom line: There isn’t a hairstyle that won’t look good on you.

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Melanie Andersen

Haircuts for Square Faces

Like heart-shape faces, square faces tend to have a more defined forehead. Bangs are a great style to try with this shape, but stay away from blunt bangs, which can appear harsh and make your face appear boxier. Instead try a side-swept, eye-skimming bang. Loose, tousled bobs are great on this face shape because they soften. Any cut that comes below the shoulders will help create length. Try going for an off-center part. It’s very flattering because it gives the illusion of a rounder face.

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Melanie Andersen

Haircuts for Long Faces

This face shape can be the most challenging and limiting when it comes to hairstyles. First thing to remember: Keep your hair shoulder-length or shorter. Long hair only makes long faces appear even longer. Bangs are a great option for this face shape because they help to shorten it. Second thing to remember: layers, layers, layers. You want to create width, and layers do this by adding texture to your hair. Waves or curls take this one step further. Avoid a center part, as this will only add to the length.

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Melanie Andersen

Haircuts for Heart-Shaped Faces

Due to the prominent jawline on most heart-shape faces, which can look harsh, it’s best to look for styles that soften. Long to medium-length hair with layers and natural waves is very flattering on this face shape. Shaggy, side-swept bangs or mod-straight bangs are a great way to camouflage a larger forehead, which tends to be a characteristic of heart-shape faces. Rule of thumb: Don’t go too short with your style or your bangs.

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Melanie Andersen

Haircuts for Diamond-Shaped Faces

With a diamond-shape face, you want to show off your great cheekbones. If you want to try a short style, go with an edgy, sharp bob that comes right below your chin. Not only will this frame your face and highlight your cheekbones, but it will also make your jawline appear stronger. Most long styles look great on this face shape as well. You can try a blunt, super-straight look or try a layered style. A word to the wise: If you want to try bangs with this face shape, try small or side-part bangs that don’t cover too much of an already-small forehead.

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Melanie Andersen

What Did YOU Think?

Every woman wants to feel confident in her own skin, and choosing the right hairstyle can do wonders for that. Have you tried a hairstyle that was particularly flattering? What face shape do you have, and what kind of cut do you like best? Have you ever had a disaster haircut? Share your stories with us in the comments!

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Melanie Andersen