"Which type of bangs should I get?" is a question I get asked a LOT. And my answer?
It all comes down to face shape*. In general, the goal with bangs is to find a style that helps make your face appear more oval, while also bringing out your eyes and enhancing your overall hairstyle.
I think there's a bang style to suit everyone, so I thought it would be fun to share with you what works and what doesn't—using celebrity red carpet close-ups to demonstrate, of course—in a series that explores each of the seven different face shapes. Like I always say, with hair, it's important to show, not just tell, so if these tips resonate, bring the examples to your stylist before you commit to a chop.
* Besides face shape, the other consideration with bangs is what your natural hair type will and will not do. In general, naturally curly hair is going to require more work if you want bangs to lie smooth; you should also get your stylist to cut your bangs dry so you don't get curl "shrinkage" and end up with them way shorter than planned. Cowlicks are another thing to keep in mind—often, they'll force bangs to separate, but as you'll see, that can be a deliberate part of the look and absolutely fine.
Do You Have a Round Face Shape?
Ginnifer Goodwin is the quintessential round face shape example. As you can see, round faces are about the same width across as they are high. Unlike oval and long faces, the widest point is across the cheekbones, and then it narrows a bit at the forehead and chin (which are also rounded). There are no hard angles.
The Best Bangs for Round Faces
Textured bangs: Ginnifer Goodwin again! As you can see, this style works better than the previous one to counter the roundness of her face. Here, she is wearing bangs with a choppy texture that end about half an inch above her brows. The texture is an important trick to diffuse the roundness, and the length—because it's hitting well above the eye area—elongates her face instead of widening it. Notice how she's pushed the bangs to one side; this creates the illusion of height. She's also got pieces of hair in front of the ears, which "cut" the width there.
Side-swept bangs: Here's another side-parted style, this time even more dramatic on Kirsten Dunst because they show off a lot of the forehead. Her longer bangs start to hit at the eyelash point before cascading down diagonally to end just below the cheekbones. This example demonstrates how creating a strong diagonal line really lengthens a round face.
Curtain bangs: Cameron Diaz is wearing a bang style that you might not have considered for a round face: the long curtain bang. These bangs work on a lot of face shapes; it's important to note here that they're parted slightly off-centre, which again creates a slight diagonal elongation for her round face. Then they hang down with some soft volume that is quite slimming, ending just above the jawline. This length is key; you don't want them to hit right at the cheeks and create more width.
Graphic bangs: Most hair experts will tell you that blunt, straight bangs aren't good for round faces because they just emphasize the width. I disagree—I've loved almost every picture I've seen of Christina Ricci wearing this style, so I definitely think it can work, with a few caveats. First, you'll notice that her bangs are cut above the eyebrows; as with Ginnifer, this opens up and lengthens the face. Second, the bangs aren't just straight across—there are longer pieces on the sides, which have a slimming effect. Last of all, I think the graphic nature of the cut is a great way to counter the softness of a round shape.
Textured and side-swept bangs: Emily Browning here demonstrates a few of the things I've talked about. She's got the choppy texture going on, the diagonal direction and the pieces in front of the ears. It all helps give her a more oval-looking shape; I also think the way her hair's been highlighted helps add dimension and a visual lengthening effect.
High and off-the-face bangs: Last up is Jennifer Hudson, whose new short haircut is complimented by off-the-face, sky-high bangs. Anything that creates height is going to make your face look longer, so this is a great idea for styling a short cut on a round face. (I don't think you want to do this with longer hair, lest you look like you've had a "hair gel" incident like Cameron Diaz in Something About Mary.)
The Worst Bangs for Round Faces
Wondering what not to do? Here are a few noteworthy examples:
Wispy bangs: Besides the fact that they scream "1990s", wispy bangs like Kaley Cuoco has here only make a round face look rounder. They just don't have enough weight to make an impact that'll divert from the round shape; what's more, they add even more softness, when softness is exactly the thing you want to counter.
Rounded bangs: Guess what? Rounded bangs on a round face just enhance the roundness. Imagine that! I'm actually not 100 percent against these, as they've got a bit of that graphic touch that I liked on Christina Ricci. But they'd be much more flattering if the bangs were cut straight across, with longer pieces on the sides.
Bangs on a small forehead: Selena Gomez is rocking what looks like a hair helmet here, and the problem isn't just that the bangs are too long, hiding most of her pretty face. It's also that she has a small forehead to begin with, on top of a round face, which makes bangs—at least the straight-across kind—not the best choice for her. See how far back the bangs had to start on her crown? She'd be better off with very long bangs pushed to one side, or long curtain bangs.
Bangs without shape: Kelly Clarkson is a good example of what can happen when you ask for bangs, without giving it much forethought. Lacking a definite shape or any relationship to the rest of her haircut, they're not doing her any favours. The idea to push them to one side was a good one, but unlike Kirsten Dunst's bangs, they're not long enough yet—so they just fall into her eyes and make her face look wider. I actually think Kelly would look great with blunt, straight, eyebrow-skimming bangs (and long, straight hair on the sides).
Bettie Page bangs: This is a bad beauty pic overall (thank goodness Fergie has seen much improvement since then), and Bettie Page bangs aren't for the faint of heart—of any face shape. These bangs are graphic but not in the ideal way for a round face; you want graphic in bangs that are straight, angular and flat to the head. The curled-under ends create too much roundness. Don't even get me started on the streaks!
Long, straight-across bangs: Catherine Zeta-Jones is demonstrating, like Selena Gomez, that a long bang worn straight across isn't the best choice for round faces. It completely overwhelms her face, and because round faces by nature are not long, keeps most of the features hidden. These would be better with a trim, or longer and pushed off to one side.
What's your favourite style of bangs for a round face?
If you have a round face, which hairstyles have worked for you?
What's the worst style for round faces?