We don’t talk about bad hair days for nothing. If your hair doesn’t look right, you feel all wrong. Personally, I’d put a good cut at the top of my list of beauty tips and spend more on it than on makeup. To make the most of yourself, you need first to decide what your face shape is, then look for styles to flatter it and, most importantly, find the right stylist to give you the perfect cut.
What shape is your face?
Pull the hair off your face with a headband or scarf, so you see the unvarnished truth. You can actually measure your own face to check the proportions; have a look online for charts showing how to do this. The basic face shapes are oval (lucky ones!), heart shaped, round and square. A narrow forehead with wide cheekbones is called a diamond shape, whereas a narrow forehead with a wide jaw line is triangular. It may sound obvious but a long face is longer than it’s wide.
Why does it matter?
It’s all a question of proportion and balance: getting the right frame for your face and balancing out what you see as defects. The artist’s ideal of beauty is the oval face (see the Mona Lisa!) but few of us have perfect features. You can aim for the appearance of an oval face by choosing the right hairstyle.
Top tips for styling
• A woman with an oval face can take almost any style; make the most of your advantages with a long, sideways swept style, showing off that lovely smooth forehead. A wispy look will suit a heart shaped face; if you want a fringe, have it feathery, not hanging in your eyes.
• A square face needn’t be a disadvantage: look at Jackie O., a style icon for her generation. Short or long, avoid layers and keep it smooth. A round face doesn’t have to look like a pudding. Top tip: aim for height rather than width (layers are good, here), so that people notice your eyes and your smile first.
• If your forehead is narrow (diamond shape), you want to emphasise the jaw line, and make your face look shorter by having a fringe.
• The triangular shaped face needs the opposite treatment: take attention away from the jaw with height and layers. If your face is long, shorten it with a fringe and don’t have hair to your shoulders, dragging your face down with it.
Whatever your face shape, if you wear glasses, you want a style that’s not all over your face.
Choosing a stylist
There’s no getting away from it: you get what you pay for and good cuts don’t come cheap. Don’t assume, though, that all the best stylists are in the city; the country is full of smart women, after all. Look through magazines and, using the advice given above, choose a style you think will suit you. Look at your friends, and ask the ones who always have good hair where they get it done. Once you’ve taken the plunge, a new you will walk out of the salon and you’ll want regular trims from your new friend the stylist. By the time he or she gets to know you, they may have new tips for improvements. Long waving tresses suit the young Duchess of Cambridge, while veteran actress Judi Dench looks great with an elfin cut.