Nothing can turn your day around like a new haircut. I don’t care how low-maintenance you are; a good haircut changes you. At the same time, a bad haircut can suddenly make you question everything about yourself. There is not, however, one single haircut that looks amazing on absolutely everyone. A good stylist takes into account your hair type, face shape, and lifestyle when coming up with the right look for you.
“For the best haircuts, always seek a consultation and service from a professional salon hair designer,” Owner of Your Haircare System Alan Benfield Bush told me. “Always share your likes, desires, and lifestyle needs with your hair designer to get a haircut designed expressly for you.”
Still, there are some haircuts that work on a lot of people and others that are pretty much never flattering. I had the chance to interview some top stylists about the most and least flattering haircuts out there, so here are the cuts you should consider, and the ones you shouldn’t.
Do: Soft layers
Easy, soft layers look good on just about everyone. The amount of layers will depend on how thick or curly your hair is, but gently framing your face is flattering.
“The best haircuts are softly layered, low maintenance, work with your natural texture, and will look just as good in three months,” Hairstylist Jenna Mast told me. “The layers are adjusted to your density, but have no distinct lines. It looks like effortless, natural hair. That’s what I aim to deliver my clients.”
The best part about natural-looking layers? You don’t have to hit the salon every ten weeks to keep them looking good.
Do: Asymmetrical bob
No one rocks the asymmetrical bob like Victoria Beckham. It’s easy to style and always looks chic. And hey, her nickname was Posh Spice for a reason.
“Ask your stylist for a classic A-line bob that is slightly piecey,” Canale Salon Head Stylist James Williams told Total Beauty. “The sophisticated cut is simple to style. Just flat iron and go.” This look is especially good for those of us who like to just get up and go without a lot of fuss in the morning.
Do: If your hair is curly, go for long layers
As a curly-haired gal, I have a love-hate relationship with summer. Sure, I love the vacations and lazy pool days, but the humidity is a high price to pay. My curls go from loose and wavy to giant and frizzy. Fortunately, I’ve discovered long layers. Keeping my hair long weighs down the frizz, but the layers keep my curls light and bouncy.
“And because the layers are long in front, you won’t have difficulty with curls bouncing up around the face and not blending,” Hairstylist Morgan Willhite told Allure. If your curls have been out of control this summer, talk with your stylist about incorporating some easy layers.
Do: If you have a round face, try a bob
When deciding on a new haircut, most of us look at pictures of celebrities for inspiration, but the place where we should really be looking is in the mirror. Our face shape can look very different with the right haircut. If your face tends to be rounder, try a fresh new bob.
“In my opinion, the best possible haircut you can get is the one that fits your face shape, personal fashion style, and hair structure,” Dylan Smith, the Creative Director of Tiff’s Hair, told me. “For girls with big eyes and a round face, the best option is to go short.” Talk with your stylist about the best look for your face.
Do: If you have a square face, go long
Not sure what your face shape is? Stand in front of the mirror with a fresh lipstick. Trace your face on the mirror, then stand back to see what shape appears. If you find yourself drawing a square shape, you’ll want to focus on softening the edges with long hair.
“If you have a square face and… curly hair, the worst haircut for you is the short one,” explained Smith. “Opt for a longer hairstyle to create the illusion of a smoother face shape.”
Do: If you’re petite, try a pixie
Sometimes it’s hard to be short. You can’t quite rock a maxi dress, you can never reach the top of the grocery store shelves, and now you can’t have long hair. Of course you could wear your hair any way you like, but long locks may overpower you.
“If you are a short person, avoid long hair past your shoulders as that will make you look shorter, and it will make your neck visually disappear,” said Bush. Be brave and go for that pixie!
Do: To offset a round face, try a blunt cut
Another great look for the round-faced ladies is going for sharp lines. It’s best to try a hairstyle that softens your face shape. If you have a full face, sharp lines will help make it look less round.
“Executing a more square haircut softens the round fullness of the face,” Hairstylist Marco Pelusi told Total Beauty. “You do not want to add more roundness.”
Don’t: A “wannabe” lob that falls too long
Now that we’re clear on the best haircuts, let’s dive into the ones to avoid. Again, it’s important to always consider your hair type and face shape. However, there are some styles that are pretty much never going to be flattering. The first is the in-between haircut. It’s not quite a bob and not quite long hair. It just hangs there without much of a style.
“Another super bad haircut I see is in shoulder length wannabe-lobs or super long hair. What happens is, girls get bored of their shoulder length hair and want face-framing layers or angles around the front,” Mast told me. “The issue with shorter hair is always density. If you don’t have a lot of hair from the back of your ear to the hairline, you’re asking for something that isn’t going to look like you have gorgeous, full, sexy hair. It will look dated or over layered. Instead, think of why you like that look and what you’d really like to accomplish and your stylist will deliver.”
In essence, it’s important to pick a lane. You can’t have fun, short layers in the back if you want to keep some length. Talk with your stylist about the looks you love and how to personalize them for you.
Don’t: “V” shape that creates a tail
If you want to keep your hair long, be careful about too many layers. When you have too many short layers in front, you end up creating a “V” shape that is not flattering on anyone.
“The ‘V’ is my least favorite request,” admitted Mast. “You’re left with a tail that offers very little style, and it’s not sexy or even adding much length. Chop it off!” If you’re wondering if your hair in back looks like a tail, then it’s time to cut.
Don’t: Super long
Long hair needs some long layers to keep it looking fresh. When you wear your hair very long and all one length, it only ages you. This is especially true if you tend to have a long face to begin with.
“Long, straight hair with straight-across bangs are a terrible choice for this [long] face shape,” Pelusi told Total Beauty. “Why? Because it further elongates the face. There is no movement to distract from the face’s length.” Go for a soft, shorter cut to offset a long face.
Don’t: If you have a wide face, avoid bangs
I love the look of bangs. It doesn’t matter if they’re full and thick or soft and swept to the side. I think they always look fresh and chic. However, if you tend to have a wider face, they won’t be the best look for you. “If you have a wide face, avoid bangs,” Bush told me. “Bangs will accentuate the width of your face.” Instead, go for soft layers that don’t widen you.
Don’t: Trying to cut your own
This is always a no-no. Even if you have low-maintenance straight hair. It is never possible to get a good cut by yourself. If you haven’t found a hairstylist you love yet, keep looking. It’s worth it!
“To find a good hair designer, compliment and ask other women with great haircuts you like where they got their hair done and who did it,” Bush told me. “For the worst haircuts, do it yourself.”
Don’t: Too-tight perm
I thought perms were left behind with shoulder pads and leg warmers, but they are still very much around. They have improved over the years, but if you decide to try one, make sure the waves are soft and modern. That too-tight perm from the ’80s will not look flattering on anyone.
It’s also important to make sure you’re taking care of your hair. Get a quality perm that doesn’t damage your gorgeous locks. “Coloring, perming, or straightening the hair is fine as long as the treatment isn’t painful,” Dr. George Cotsarelis, a dermatologist whose research includes hair follicles, told Allure. “When there is pain, that indicates follicle damage.” An experienced stylist can help you find the right perm for your hair.
Don’t: The reverse mullet
Poor Kate Gosselin. Her famous haircut will always be on the list of worst looks. Going chunky in the front and super short in the back may be low-maintenance, but it will never be flattering.
“Shorter cuts are easier to manage if you find the perfect style for your face shape,” Stylist Guy Riggio told Total Beauty. “And that can take a lot of trial and error.” The problem with the reverse mullet is that is unbalanced. “The bangs are far too long, and the spiky top would need a can of hairspray for hold,” said Riggio.
Talk with your stylist
The best haircut is always the one personalized just for you. “Haircuts are a super personal thing and never really a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. There’s a lot that gets taken into account, and it’s not as simple as replicating a photo,” Mast told me. “As a hairstylist, I consider my client’s natural texture, hairline, density, cowlicks, routine, and maintenance. I can tell you with certainty that the worst haircut is the one that doesn’t consider the client.”
When making a change with your hair, go for an easy style that allows you to make changes over time. “The best haircuts will allow you to make changes by being able to style your hair with versatility by occasionally sweeping it from side to side, pulled back, or even up into an elegant upstyle,” explained Bush. “Always ask for subtle changes during each salon visit, while discussing potential short and long-term options with plans for your future haircuts. If you want a totally different haircut and makeover, be sure to take a photograph as a visual reference for your hair designer.”
You and your stylist are a team, so work together to achieve your perfect look!