Long Layered Hair Cut and other styles at iVillage Beauty & Style

Hair is a badge of identity. While it can say many different things about whom you are on any given day -- subtle, sexy, striking -- it also defines your mood (or mode) of the moment. How you choose to wear your hair says a lot about your looks, your likes, your lifestyle. Although we all have individual hair preferences, there are certain rules of thumb -- based on the shape and features of your face, the texture of your hair, your age and your lifestyle -- that can help you find and keep your best, most wearable style.

 

Face Shape and Features

Even though you absolutely love the latest look from New York or Los Angeles, it might not be the right one for you. Among the most important factors to consider when deciding how well you can wear a particular style are the shape of your face and the proportions of your features -- these will help tell you what hairstyle is perfect for you.

 

Oval-shaped face:

Lucky you! You have the kind of face shape that lets you wear your hair just about any way you choose. The forehead and chin of an oval face are in proportion with each another, making both long and short cuts look great on you.

 

Round face:

To get the illusion of a narrower face, try a cut with layers and fullness on top, but keep it close to your face at the sides. Go either short or longer than chin length, swept back from your forehead, with wispy bangs or parted on the side. A rounded style that ends at your chin will emphasize the shape of your face.

 

Heart-shaped face:

Those with a heart-shaped face know that the jaw and forehead often look wide, and the chin can appear pointy. Short hair usually works well for this face shape; a short shag or a pixie cut is a good choice because the hair is full on top, evening out the jaw and chin lines.

 

Full forehead, long chin:

If you have a full forehead and a long chin, it helps to add volume below the chin to balance things out a bit. A medium-length bob or shag lends fullness where it's needed. Bangs can also help reduce the appearance a large forehead.

 

Large features:

If you're supersensitive about the size of your nose or any other part of your face, you can de-emphasize these features with fullness in the hair. Straight hair parted in the middle makes a prominent nose seem even more so -- as do long, heavy bangs -- but a fuller style takes off the emphasis and balances out large features. Soft, subtle highlights can also help by drawing the eye away from the face and toward the hair.

 

Long or short neck:

If you were blessed with a long, graceful neck, take advantage of this enviable feature when choosing a hairstyle. A long neck can be shown off to excellent advantage with short hair; on the other hand, long hair can also enhance a graceful neck, especially when worn in an elegant special-occasion style like a twist or up-do. If your neck is short and you want to wear a short cut, create the illusion of length by tapering your hair at the base of the neck and go fuller on top.

 

Hair Texture and Behavior

The texture of your hair is a key factor in choosing a suitable style -- some cuts just won't work properly with straight, fine hair, for instance, while others won't do for thick, curly hair. Consider, too, your hair's natural tendencies: how it falls, how it grows, where it parts. Though styling tools and products can help you get the look you're after, think about how much time and effort it will take to attempt to defy what Mother Nature intended.

 

Age

Women of every age want to find and wear a fashionable hairstyle, but it's especially important to make sure the cut you select is appropriate for your time of life. Let's face it: Certain styles are suitable for the young, and others are better tailored to more mature women.

Long hair is difficult for older women to wear because it tends to draw the facial features downward. A general rule for women "of a certain age" is to keep hair shoulder length or shorter. This also helps keep hair in good condition (as we age, hair becomes drier.) On the other hand, if you're over 40 and your long hair makes you look fantastic and feel comfortable and confident, go ahead and break the rules. Consider a long, layered cut that keeps your hair modern and updated. And always remember to trim the ends every four to six weeks.

 

Lifestyle

When choosing a cut and style, remember that your hair is something you wear every day. Decide how much effort you're willing to devote to grooming and maintenance without altering your lifestyle -- and be honest! Ask yourself how much time you actually have, then choose a style you can achieve daily without going out of your way to accommodate your hair's needs. Be sure to discuss your lifestyle and time constraints with your stylist before making a decision.

 

Maintaining Your Cut

To properly keep up a good haircut, stylists recommend a trim every six weeks. The reason is simple: On average, hair grows one-half inch per month. By cutting at least one-quarter inch every six weeks, you eliminate the frizz and split ends that play havoc with good hair health and maintain your clean, stylish look.

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