If you’ve always had good luck trying new hairstyles, you may have a great stylist or superb taste – or you may just have an oval-shaped face. (It could be all three, but what are the odds?) Oval-shaped faces, which are longer than they are wide, with a soft, rounded jawline, work well with almost any hairstyle. That’s partly because their proportions are pleasing – in fact, art schools teach the “golden ratio” for portrait painting, which simplifies faces down to an oval for the most appealing look.
And who are we to argue with art? If you’ve been blessed with an oval-shaped face, you’ll be able to rock just about any hairstyle. Still, there are definitely choices that will be more flattering than others. But before delving into stylists’ recommendations for this face shape, we’ll tell you how to find out if you’re in this lucky category.
Obviously, everyone’s features are unique, so determining face shape isn’t an exact science, but you can get a pretty good idea by just checking your features out in the mirror. If your hair’s long, pull it up into a ponytail or bun so that you have a clear view. Now, assess your face’s width versus its length – is it noticeably longer than its widest point (usually the forehead or cheekbones)? If the answer’s yes, you’re one step closer to being an official oval – time to suss out the other big clue.
Is your jawline rounded, with a soft (not pointy) chin? That pretty much seals the deal. You have an oval face! As such, you have almost your pick of haircuts, as well as bangs and parting options. Keep in mind that if your face is quite long, you’ll probably want to stick with styles that de-emphasize length and play up width, but by and large, you’ll find variations of each major category that will do so.
Still, we promised we’d give you some leads on the most attractive styles, so here are the picks that will earn ovals standing ovations:
If you’re looking for length, there are a ton of long hairstyles that will flatter an oval face. The longer you go, the more you’ll want to add volume, though: very long, straight hair can serve to elongate your features. Have your stylist put in long layers that start just below your chin to build some width where you need it. Even fine, thin long hair can benefit from a few judiciously cut layers. It helps to find a hairstylist who understands the technique used for thinner hair, or your layers may end up too wispy. And in the same vein, poorly cut layers can make thick hair look tiered.
The beauty of long layers is their versatility. You can leave them natural, and they’ll still create interest and volume, curl them inward, put in beachy waves, or feather them out. They’re long enough to be bundled up into a pony or bun when you’re in a hurry. You can fearlessly part your long locks in the center or slightly offset, and go with a deep, dramatic part on special occasions.
Super into layers? A long shag may be right for you. This haircut is a commitment (and a nod to the 1970s; think Stevie Nicks at the height of her powers), but if you’re willing to have a multitude of layers cut in, you can rock this style. We love a long shag with bangs that fringe your face and come down to your eyebrows- this flatters an oval face perfectly.
Tuck your tousled layers behind your ears or let them hang in your face for a tough-but-cute look. If you prefer to bypass the bangs, a long shag with a strong center part and waves that kick out at your cheekbones will shorten your face a bit, a benefit for ovals.
If you choose to go the opposite route with long one-length hair, consider adding a fringe of equally blunt, heavy bands to visually break up your forehead and shorten the look of your face. You can create dimension and a more dynamic look on one-length hair with foil highlights or balayage.
Caramel-on-brown, honey-on-dirty blonde, and platinum-on-blond all catch the light beautifully and give your hair depth. You can also build in width with one-length hair by using a curling iron or hot rollers to create voluminous waves or simply curled-in ends.
For hair that falls to your shoulders, a classic “lob” (long bob) is universally flattering but looks especially good with oval faces. It typically falls just above or below the shoulders or right in between. Here again, you can have some layers cut in to frame your face at your jawline; these will soften the cut, give you width and dimension at just the right point, and flawlessly frame your oval face. A lob can work with or without bangs, but we especially like them with a side part, swept over the forehead to create a diagonal line that draws attention to your eyes.
Ovals can also pull off a sleeker version of the lob, with fewer (or no) layers. A center part is a dramatic choice with a sleek lob, and may not work if your face is very long, but it’s worth a try (you can always go back to a side part!). Tuck your hair behind your ears to really show off your golden-ratio features, or go all-out and pull your center-parted hair into a smooth chignon.
The lob, especially when it has some layering, is super-versatile. You can accentuate the layers by putting in waves or curls, keep it sleek with a blow dryer and rounded brush, slick it back, or wear it tousled. It takes to a side part nicely, and if you find this choice flatters your face best, make sure your stylist knows your “good” side. (Although if your hair tends toward flat at the roots, changing your part very one in a while can work miracles for bringing in some lift.) Since lobs are flattering from above the shoulder to below, you may be able to wait a couple of months between salon appointments.
We’re also partial to the lob for oval faces because this cut gives you so many bangs options. A shaggier lob will look great paired with long curtain bangs. They have a slight middle part and get longer on the sides. This style will open up your face while minimizing the forehead. A sleeker lob will go well with side-swept bangs that blend into the rest of your hair (you will need to choose a dedicated side to part on with this style).
A lob with just a few layers is crying out for gentle, beachy waves, but if you opt for this style, make sure the waves push away from your face at your cheekbones; this will add that pop of width that best flatters an oval face. You can choose a center or side part with this look, and if you intend to wear beach waves with your lob, consider skipping bangs or grow out your existing ones. It can be tricky to integrate bangs into this kind of waves, so if you have them, try using a paddle brush and blow dryer to create a subtle inward bend, rather than trying to put waves into such short strands. (During the growing-out stage, employ bobby pins to hold your bangs out of your eyes, and tuck them behind your ears once they’re long enough.)
Bob haircuts are worn at about jaw level, and these can be very flattering to an oval face. Again, you can choose a sleek look close to the original bob, or have layers put in with scissors or razor. An A-line bob is slightly longer in front, so it hugs the curve of your face. This makes it flattering for truly classic oval faces but can overemphasize a narrow or long oval. Your stylist may suggest putting in some texture at about temple level to pull the bob away from your head a bit – that’ll add some width without compromising the shape of the bob.
Since oval faces are usually pleasingly symmetrical, an asymmetrical haircut can be a great way to add flair to your look – and the asymmetrical bob will take you from the office to the nightclub with equal confidence. You’ll choose your part, and the stylist will create drama with a long side that sweeps the side of your face; the other often gets tucked behind your ear. It can be paired with a stacked back for maximum volume, which makes it a good choice for fine or thin hair.
The bottom line on lobs and bobs? They flatter an oval face and are incredibly versatile. Ask your stylist for advice on whether a sleek, choppy, or softly layered bob or lob will best suit your oval face – and rest assured, one of them will!
When it comes to oval faces, short haircuts are easy to pull off – if you follow a few simple rules. Don’t go flat! You need some height at the crown and hairline to avoid elongating your face. Do have a plan for growing out a super-short cut, and do consider cuts that allow for special-occasion styling.
A pixie cut has as many varieties as bobs do, but almost all feature shorter hair on the back and sides. The classic pixie sports super-short bangs, and it’s been in style since the 1950s, but it may be a little too extreme for your tastes – and it can overaccentuate a long face, so ovals may want to bypass it. Besides, the crown and bangs are where you can make the modified pixie your own! We sorted through the dozens of iterations of pixie cuts to find the best for oval features, and came up with these top contenders:
Longer pixie. Just as the name implies, this is a slightly lengthier version of the classic. The bangs, crown, sides, and nape are all roughly the same length, with a slightly longer side coming away from your part. It can be worn silky smooth or tousled for a ladylike or tomboy effect. Your stylist may recommend V-cut layers to create more movement.
Long-bangs pixie. A little edgy and a little sexy, this is a statement cut that’ll flatter your oval face, whether you wear the bangs swept across your forehead or slicked back.
Asymmetrical pixie. Made famous by post-Posh Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, this is a sophisticated look that takes wonderfully to bold highlights. Razored layers at the crown add lift, which sets off oval features. We like the look, but it’s become almost ubiquitous – so it may have lost some of its allure.
Pixie Bob. This length comes just past your ears and looks terrific with lots of layers. Typically, the back is cut for maximum volume in what’s known as in “inverted bob,” and this volume works well for oval faces. It’s a playful look that adds a ton of body to fine hair, which often looks at its best with shorter lengths. A pixie bob looks good with long, sweeping bangs or bangs that blend into the sides of your hair; either will frame your cheekbones and minimize length.
Choppy Pixie. The clearly defined layers can be spiky with this perky version of the traditional pixie. For maximum spikiness, layers are kept quite short, and if you choose not to tousle your tresses, you can control them with for a sleek, close-to-the-head cap look (this is a good dressy option, as the choppy pixie has a very casual feel). The advantage of the choppy pixie for oval faces is you can manipulate volume right where you need it with just a little styling product.
Feathered pixie. Here, the layers are cut just barely to cooperate with your deep side part; they feather over, creating height at the top of your head. Because of that, this can be a tricky look for a long oval to pull off – the bangs will make or break the style. You want them textured to compliment the feathering, but substantial enough to visually break up your forehead’s width and length.
No matter which pixie cut you choose, you’ll be looking at some upkeep and a challenging grow-out period, so make sure that both are acceptable. A carefully shaped pixie will mean touchup visits every four to six weeks, depending on how fast your hair grows (and your tolerance for awkward phases!). Once you start to grow out a shorter pixie, your stylist can help you find transitional looks that keep the length coming without too many bad hair days. And even if you do find yourself facing a less-than-perfect grow-out phase, remember: your oval face can pull off just about any look with panache, so you’re ahead of the game!
Inspiration: Celebs with oval faces
For an idea of what looks best with oval features, check out pics of these celebrities. They pay good money for great advice and service from the pros, so their hairstyles are usually top-notch.