Hairstyle and Face Shape: A conundrum

In response to a question last night about hairstyle and face shape, I hopped on over to Imogen's blog, were I found a terrific article on who looks great in pixie cuts. http://www.insideoutstyleblog......ircut.html

In that piece, she quotes hairdressing guru John Frieda, who apparently has a rule of thumb: to look good in a pixie, a woman should have 5.5 cm or less distance between earlobe and jaw point.

Of course I measured. And - gasp - I do not fit the profile! In fact, as I suspected, I REALLY don't fit it, measuring at minimum 6.5 cm from earlobe to jaw and probably more (it was tough to get an accurate measurement on my own, and anyway, I could see that I was LOOOOONG in the jaw, something I already knew anyway!) Supposedly, this should make the face look too masculine.

And yet - all here seem to agree that I rock a pixie. What gives?

Imogen goes on to show a photo of herself in a pixie, explaining that with 7 cm between earlobe and jaw, it isn't the right cut for her. Actually, I think she'd look great in a pixie if the fringe were different from the one in her photo, but if she doesn't feel great in it, that's the main thing.

Anyway, I appreciated the scientific and logical approach of the piece, yet discovered that in the end, the measurement rule isn't the be-all-and-end-all.

It made me wonder, Angie, if you use particular guidelines when suggesting hairstyles to a client, or if you go primarily on "feel." Because we all know you were the one who suggested I lop off my locks!

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • merwoman replied 8 years ago

    Not Angie - but I find this very interesting - to the point that I will have a look at the article. and measure tonight :-)
    You have beautifully shaped ears (amongst many other attributes) - I have a jug ear on my left side and this has always made me hesitant to go with a haircut that reveals my ears.

    ETA I measure 5.5cm - "pixie" possibilities?

  • Sylvie replied 8 years ago

    I don't agree with her measurements, but I agree that delicate features and great cheekbones or eyes are crucial to making it work.

    A pixie cut really focuses the atttention directly on one's face.

  • Mo replied 8 years ago

    Well, I have quite long hair, but a long, thin face too. Supposedly not a good idea, but I'm not going to let that spoil my fun! :P If you like it and feel great, to heck with 'rules'!

  • Vicki replied 8 years ago

    Also, not Angie, and this is a timely post, Suz, as I'm growing my hair out a tad, probably due to earlier summer photos I saw of myself with my very strong jawline. This article is really interesting and gives one perspective.

    I really like a pixie on you, because #1 you have such a beautiful face, #2 the shape of your face suits a pixie cut and #3 your modern classic style is made for this type of haircut.

    Sharon Stone's cut is a bit where I'm going.

    I look forward to hearing what others have to say. Now, I have to see how many inches I have! ;) ETA: 2.25" = 5.7 cm.

  • JR replied 8 years ago

    Well, rules are good guidelines, but not the whole story. I think the most important thing to pull off a pixie cut is to have pixie-ish features. Delicate features, defined cheekbones, nice eyes. You have those, so it works. I don't, so I won't ever try.

  • Heather replied 8 years ago

    Suz, three things:

    1-You ARE gorgeous and your do suits you perfectly.
    2-Rules are made to be broken.
    3-There is always an exception (or more) to every rule.


  • Gaylene replied 8 years ago

    I can't imagine picking a hairstyle based on only a single criteria. It seems to me that hair texture and volume, head size in relation to body size/shape, and facial bone structure are even more important.

    For example, my facial bone structure actually fits Imogene's guidelines, but my body shape is an IT with broad shoulders. The overall effect of a pixie cut on me is to make me look like a pinhead. (Which has happened when an overly enthusiastic hairdresser didn't stop to consider the final effect!)

    You may not fit into Imogene's guidelines, but you are obviously the exception to the rule. You own the pixie!

  • replied 8 years ago

    No experience with this cut myself, but my cousin Sara has always worn a pixie. Not sure if she has the right cm between ear and jaw, but I will say that she is STUNNING! All eyes, exquisite cheek bones and overall bone structure. Many of us in my family have good cheekbones. She is 5'8", not sure if height makes any difference. Halle Berry also wears it beautifully, although she looks good in other styles, as well. I think you look great, but I'm not an expert. ;)

  • replied 8 years ago

    Wanted to add, I was the original poster last night asking about determining face shape, I can't play Imogen's video on my computer :( My high cheekbones are the widest point on my face, and I have a pointy chin. I think I may be oval???
    I have long hair, to the middle of my back with lots of long layers and sweeping bangs. I love it and my husband does, too. I've had every hairstyle you can imagine (no pixie or rasta dreads - LOL!!!) but I feel like I can do so many things with my long hair, and Pinterest is a wonderful source for great hairstyles! ;)

  • Claudia replied 8 years ago

    Ooh, boy. Sorry, but Halle Berry, Anne Hathaway, Sharon Stone and Winona Ryder all rock the pixie crop, as stated, and to my eye they don't quite make the Audrey Hepburn 5.5 cm cut off either.

    Yes, fine bone structure features, nice ears help pull off the look for that gamine appeal, but a jaw/chin that stops at 2" or 5.5cm, I wouldn't spend a second worrying about that one!

  • Ginny replied 8 years ago

    I agree it is scientific but not definitive. face shape and that stuff plays apart but I think personality and our other style attributes all play a hand in this as well. Because I was a yay vote on your pixie when you did it. And would say yay again. I also measured on me and I too sit right about 6 cm also.Interesting

  • Diana replied 8 years ago

    Agree that it's all about nice cheekbones and pretty eyes! I have neither so will not be sporting a pixie anytime soon.

    ETA: I have about 5 cm between earlobe and jaw. Although first I misread jaw as chin and was super confused about how anyone could have such a short distance between their earlobes and chin!

    ETA2: Wait, i just looked at imogen's diagram and apparently it IS earlobe to chin. Which means that I am DEFINITELY not pixie material since apparently I have a whopping 9 cm. Admittedly I am not measuring very carefully (at work, using my webcam and a ruler) but I don't think I'm off by that much. 5.5 seems really short.

  • Janet replied 8 years ago

    Gaylene, I can relate to part of your reason for avoiding pixie cuts, but it's a little different. I have a small head. I kind of hate it, because not only is it hard to fit eyeglasses and hats, but I feel like I always look like a pinhead on a big body in my photos, especially when I'm photographed in a group of people!

    So I like having *some* volume or presence to my hair to give my poor little head a little more balance. LOL

  • replied 8 years ago

    There is 1" from my ear lobe to my jaw (did I measure that correctly? How many cm is that???) I think from these measurements I would be able to wear it splendidly - but no thank you! I'm not brave enough to try and I wouldn't like feeling exposed to the world like that - it definitely puts all eyes on you and your face...YIKES!!!

  • DeclawedJaguar replied 8 years ago

    1 inch = 2.54 cm.

  • Zapotee replied 8 years ago

    I wonder how that measurement came to be. I think it has to do with head and face shape more than anything. I think pixies look great on slim people with a defined bone structure, like yourself.
    I would look HORRID in a pixie. I need the volume to balance me out.

  • replied 8 years ago

    Was I measuring accurately? From ear lobe to where my jaw starts.....that seems an awful small number! My ears aren't large, my face is 8" long. Maybe I have tiny pixie-ish features and never knew it!

  • Claudia replied 8 years ago

    It looks from the diagram on Imogen's website it is a measurement to where the chin ends.

  • replied 8 years ago

    Zapotee- My cousin is slim-ish, very fit, but not waif like....statuesque, broader shoulders and large bone structure. Also, Linda Dano (Actress from Another World - remember that, anyone???) is another example of a statuesque woman with a larger frame who wears a pixie beautifully. I think it takes a very bold personality to pull it off, more than just size.

  • replied 8 years ago

    Ear lobe to where chin ends can't be right - EDITED: Recheck - that's 5 inches on me (12.5 cm)! I don't know anyone whose ear lobe to end of chin measures 2-2.5 inches!!!! Yikes!

  • Claudia replied 8 years ago

    Look again at the link Suz provided, see Audrey Hepburn and Imogen's photo, the line is drawn where the chin itself ends.

  • catgirl replied 8 years ago

    Ack, I should have known there would be some scientific rule to pixies. But who cares, because you are my favorite pixie cut of all time. I would LOVE to rock a pixie but my face shape is really all wrong for one!

  • replied 8 years ago

    On Imogen's website the line under the chin is only a guide, you don't measure to the end of the chin. You can clearly see that if that were the case, even Audrey would be way more than 5.5! The 5.5 cm is the point from ear lobe to jawline. The illustration is confusing!

    My daughter's and I measured the way Imogen is trying to explain it and I measure 2" from ear lobe to bottom of chin. Still not doing a pixie! ;)

  • Claudia replied 8 years ago

    It states: "According to John Frieda, hairdresser to the stars, a measurement of 5.5cm or less from the base of the ear to the bottom of the chin is important, this is because it makes you look less jaw heavy (a more ‘masculine’ trait)."

    Note: "bottom of the chin." And yes, ridiculous.

  • HelenInCanada replied 8 years ago

    I'm 100% with Heather. Suz, I wouldn't overthink this at all - you look AMAZING in the pixie. Seriously. Sometimes all the measuring and technicalities in the world produce a dud. So there. ;)

    The only people who should avoid the pixie cut like the plague - and I say this respectfully - are those with protruding ears (sorry, but it's true), misshapen heads, and 'mannish' features. Dangerous territory there, for sure. You, however, should continue to rock it!

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Ooh! I love it! I have started a firestorm of comment!

    First, thank you for all the lovely compliments. I did seem to be fishing and really wasn't..but I'll happily take 'em, as long as I get to give a special shout out to:

    1. My mother - the first woman who insisted I try a pixie (at age 6) and who has always said it is my best hairstyle, despite my rebelliously ignoring her when I was a teen.

    2. Angie - for encouraging me to go back to this cut.

    3. The lovely women of YLF for cheering me on!

    Now that's out of the way, let me address the other points. First, I agree that it's a bit confusing and difficult to understand how very many people have a 5.5 cm measurement from earlobe to bottom of chin. But that IS what it says, and that's what I was trying to measure - discovering that I am quite long. If I really tried to do it accurately, I wouldn't even want to hazard a guess as to HOW long!

    However, I agree with you completely, Claudia, that several of Imogen's examples do not look to me as if they fit Frieda's guideline of 5.5 cm. Winona Ryder in particular. Yet she looks super in that cut.

    Also, to be fair to Imogen, that measurement was really Frieda's, not hers, and she does mention other qualities to look for. Also I have read elsewhere just the opposite - that oval and longer faces look best with pixies vs. round faces which can end up looking child-like in the wrong way.

    And it's possible that Frieda MEANT to the jaw line vs. the chin. That is a very interesting possibility. I should take that measurement, too. Because it occurs to me that it could be the SHAPE of the jaw as much as its length that would make for a masculine look. Why would a long chin necessarily look mannish? A squared off one, maybe. But not necessarily a long one.

    In reality, I think someone with ANY face shape can do it, assuming other qualities are present. And I agree absolutely, Gaylene, that hair texture, height, shape, and features, all play an important role.

    Merwoman, your compliment is especially touching because my best friend used to make fun of my big ears. I comfort myself with the knowledge that in China, large ears are considered a positive attribute, LOL!

    Sylvie, you're right - a pixie brings attention to the face.

    Mo - you look wonderful in your long locks! I would find it difficult to imagine a better style for you.

    Vicki, I think you look great in short hair! You will look wonderful with Sharon Stone's messy style; I LOVE that and have worn my hair similar in the past. I think it still qualifies as a pixie, by the way. And YOU have the huge eyes that make the style work, for sure.

    JR, thank you so much.

    Heather - so great to hear from you and THANK you!

    Shabbychic, it sounds as if your face shape might be heart shaped or diamond, rather than oval, but it depends on how wide those cheekbones are, I guess, relative to the rest. Imogen traces an oval on a transparency and places it over her face to show that her face is pretty much an oval. If her face wasn't encompassed by the oval (i.e. stuck out in places) her face would be a different shape. sounds as if you have a hairstyle you are happy with, which is great!

    Ginny, you're right I think that personality also plays a role. Funny how we can get a sense of that even on this forum.

    Diana, I beg to differ - you have GORGEOUS eyes and a stellar smile. And I won't hear otherwise! Having said that, I love your hair exactly as you wear it.

    Janet, that goes for you, too. Your hair is a lovely complement to your look. I think if I were tall I would feel less comfortable in super-short hair.

    Zap - thank you.Again, with your height, it probably does make more sense to have longer hair. It is true some very tall women look great in pixies, but I think they're the exception for sure.

    Una, blushing!! Thank you!

  • Ruby Tuesday replied 8 years ago

    I believe there are many other attributes which contribute to you rocking a pixie with aplomb;
    1) proportional features
    2) wonderful smile
    3) gamine body shape
    4) a complementary style

    p.s. what if you happen to have a larger than average head, would that not throw the whole theory out of the window?

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Julie - thank you (and you, TOO, look great in a pixie!)

    I had the same thought as you - my head IS rather large - my forehead being just as big as my lower face!

  • Transcona Shannon replied 8 years ago

    Well hello from another short pixie cut gal here! I'm going to have measure as I'm now curious but I know personally my face is quite long and narrow and technically speaking, a pixie shouldn't work on me. However, my stylist has mentioned that keeping the fringe a little longer and making sure that it's not spiked up too much as to add extra inches to the overall length of my face/head makes it work. She also has mentioned that my eyeglasses help the pixie cut work because it visually adds width to my face (even though the glasses themselves are not overly wide) and breaks up the expanse of my long face. When I take my glasses off it's true that my face looks longer. She has also mentioned the fact that I have a relatively short neck helps in this regard.

    I think you look gorgeous in your pixie cut Suz and I don't see anything that doesn't work here.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    The feeling is mutual, Shannon!

    And here I found a link suggesting that all face shapes can adapt a pixie:

    And this link suggesting that a close crop looks BEST on longer, slimmer faces:

    So obviously, it's all in the eye of the beholder!

  • rachylou replied 8 years ago

    Ok, first off, thank you, Diana. I was puzzling over the 5.5 cm, until my eyes brushed your post! LOL

    Second, you definitely rock your cut, Suz.

    I think Frieda is mistaken. I think there maybe is something to where the visual weight of your face lies and the success you'll have with a pixie, but the vertical drop between earlobe to chin isn't *the* factor in determining where that visual weight is.

    But he's a hair dude, not a biometrician. So we gotta cut him some slack...

    ...I'm reminded of my Infamous Ex-Boss. Who often came up with right answers, but oy vey! His explanations of how he figured things out! Let me just say that his brain did not inform him of its doings.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Rachylou, that is both hilarious and SO true. Sometimes people are right, in a way....but their reasoning is completely wonky. Or they're right that something is up, but totally wrong about what it is!

  • Deborah replied 8 years ago

    Bumping for Angie! Would love to know her thoughts on this. Weren't rules meant to be broken?

  • Tamara replied 8 years ago

    I read the linked post to say that the distance in question is the vertical drop from ear lobe to chin. Like if you drew a line straight down from your ear lobe until it crosses a pencil held horizontally against the point of your chin. Then measure the vertical line. Anyone else read it that way?

    ETA: On me, it's 2.5 inches.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    I think you're correct, Tamara - that is how to measure it.

  • sarah replied 8 years ago

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, even if they call them rules, and IN MY OPINION, you look FABulous in your pixie. Don't give it another thought.

  • deb replied 8 years ago

    I have worn a pixie cut most of my life. (well, except for my 'hippie' days) but now find that my longer hair looks better. My face has dropped and the jowels and the excess chin just do not look right to me. This is a very interesting thread, though.

  • Sveta replied 8 years ago

    I don't buy this rule: how can you just state the length without taking into the account overall size of your face and head? I would be more inclined to consider it if it was a proportional thing - like 1/3 of the overall face length or something. Just plain 5.5 cm do not cut it for me.
    As for you Suz - you know you rock the pixie. It completely changed your style and even your attitude I think: added more spunk :-) Wear it with pride and don't look at the rules!
    I like my short hair even though I don't have delicate features or slim build. It may not suit me by those rules but honestly I don't care!

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Sveta, you definitely suit short hair. In your case, I think your strikingly dramatic features make it ideal for you.

    In this fun link, they show women of different ages wearing it and befores and afters of several who took the plunge. Interestingly, the cuts were done by the Frieda salon, and some of the women appear to be longer than 5.5 cm from earlobe to chin - and they look great! I think it looks especially amazing on the older women they've made over. You also see the variety possible with the cut.

  • krishnidoux replied 8 years ago

    Suz, you look FANTASTIC! This cut suits your face shape no matter what the so called specialists say!
    I can't believe I was surfing the net this morning in search of pixie cut images to show my hairdresser whom I am meeting in an hour, and THIS VERY THREAD came in first! Suz to the rescue! I am bringing her your pic.

  • MsMary replied 8 years ago

    I'm with Zap and RoseandJoan -- I think the most important attribute in order to successfuly rock a pixie is lovely bone structure and not too much fat on the face, as well as a nice long neck -- which criteria you meet in spades, Suz! I could NEVER pull it off because I have no neck and my face tends towards puffiness.

  • Mellllls replied 8 years ago

    i think personality has a lot to do with haircut as well. my personality does not mesh with a pixie. suz, i think your pixie is wonderful.

  • Queen Mum replied 8 years ago

    I haven't read all the responses, so forgive me if I am repeating what's already been said.
    First of all, you ROCK your pixie, Suz, so don't give it one more ounce of your gorgeous energy thinking about.
    Secondly, Imogen does mention in her post the factors of delicate features, large eyes and or significant smile contributing to the success of a pixie. And I'm not sure she's indicating that Frieda is stating the 5.5 cm as the end all either. What she wrote in her post was....
    "According to John Frieda, hairdresser to the stars, a measurement of 5.5cm or less from the base of the ear to the bottom of the chin is important, this is because it makes you look less jaw heavy (a more ‘masculine’ trait). So in general, shorter face shapes (square and round) find it easier to carry off shorter hair."

    I really don't read this as a rule, but a general guideline. You definitely have the features to pull off your pixie Suz. Rock on!

  • Angie replied 8 years ago

    I have had a hectic few days, so my apology for coming into this discussion late, Suz.

    (FWIW, my so called measurement is 5.25 cm).

    YES!! I was the one that strongly suggested that you cut off your hair again. Truly, Suz, never grow your hair out to anything that is not short. I am with your sweet Mum 100%. You undeniably rock a pixie.

    There are MANY variables as to why I think a pixie works and most of them have been covered already. I also have very strong feelings about when long hair works. Both styles are extreme, which is why they attract attention.

    This very discussion confirms that style is art and *not* science. I trust my eyeballs much more than a measuring tape. We are walking works of art full of lines, curves, colours and textures that play off each other. Finding harmony between them cannot be bottled down to measurements, but to how they effect one another as a whole.

  • Suz replied 8 years ago

    Thank you, Angie! That is a lovely explanation. I had a hunch that a good stylist like you would rely on hunch, LOL! That's a very good point about very long and very short hair both attracting attention. A person has to be comfortable with that to wear either style well.

    I found it so interesting that several of the women in the UK link had longer faces, yet looked wonderful in shorter hair. I also know some YLF members with rounder or fuller faces who look wonderful in short hair (Ana comes to mind). So it must have to do with many variables and not just one. Thank heavens we have that sorted!

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