If you’ve come across references to face shape, it was likely while shopping for glasses, or looking up haircuts—both of which come with recommendations based on the shape of a person’s face. But what if your face shape isn’t obvious? And what if it doesn’t fall neatly into one specific category? Here’s what you need to know about figuring out your face shape, and why it matters.
Why does face shape matter?
In the grand scheme of things, face shape is pretty inconsequential—but knowing yours can make it easier to make decisions about what will look best on or near your face; things like hairstyles, makeup, glasses, hats, and other accessories. But keep in mind that it’s possible to have a combination of different face shapes, and that the shape you have as a young person may evolve over time.
How to figure out the shape of your face
At first, the concept of face shape can be a little confusing. OK, maybe someone may have what’s obviously a round face, but what, exactly is a triangle face supposed to look like? And when it starts getting into hearts and diamonds, they can sound more like Lucky Charms than human faces.
As Wendy Rose Gould explains in an article for Real Simple, the first step to finding your face shape is measuring it. Your best bet is to use a flexible measuring tape, but she says that a measuring app on your phone can also get the job done. According to Gould, here’s how to take the measurements you need (just be sure to write them down as you go, so the info is handy):
- Face Length: Measure from the top of your hairline to lowest part of your chin.
- Forehead Width: The distance across the center of your forehead from hairline to hairline. Don’t bend the measuring tape against the curve—keep it flat.
- Cheekbone Width: Feel for the highest point of your cheekbone, then measure from one cheekbone across your face to the other. Again, keep the measuring tape flat versus curving it against your skin.
- Jawline Width: Hold the measuring tape just below your ear and bring it down to the center of your chin, then multiply by two. In this case, you can bend the tape so it sits against your skin.
The characteristics of each face shape
Use a combination of the measurements and visual cues to determine which of these face shapes is most like yours, Dr. Robert Sigal, a board-certified plastic surgeon tells Real Simple:
- Primary characteristics: High cheekbones and a narrow jaw
- Measurements: Width of the forehead and cheekbone will be longer, while chin is narrow and comes to a point (either rounded or more rigid)
- Primary characteristics: Rounded hairline and jawline
- Measurements: Face width and length that are the same measurements
- Primary characteristics: Jawline and forehead that are wider and more pronounced
- Measurements: Forehead, cheekbones, and jawline are the same width; measurements are similar to a round face, but the total structure of the face feels more angular with minimal curves
- Primary characteristics: A more angular version of an oval face shape; chin is also more narrow and pointed and the hairline comes to a more angular point; cheekbones are high and strong
- Measurements: The distance between the cheekbones is slightly wider than the length of the forehead
- Primary characteristics: Forehead is a combination of square and round; jawline and chin are more rounded
- Measurements: Typically, the forehead width is smaller than the cheekbone width, and the face is longer than it is wide
- Primary characteristic: Widow’s peak hairline
- Measurements: Jawline and cheekbones are wider than the forehead; the chin is narrow with a strong point
- Primary characteristics: Most often seen in older people, when skin from cheeks and jowls settles into the lower half of the face
- Measurements: Face length that is longer than it is wide; forehead, cheekbones, and jaw also are similar in width
Even if you don’t fit perfectly into a single category, you should at least be able to narrow it down a bit to a few specific shapes—which should help the next time you’re looking for a new ‘do or pair of specs.