Color Contouring: How to Color Hair According to Face Shape

Hair-color contouring is a way of customizing color placement to your client’s face shape. In fact, it might be something you’ve been doing for a while without realizing it.

“Color contouring—or as I call it, color shaping—is the deliberate application of various contrasting shades to various portions of the client’s head,” says industry color expert Beth Minardi, founder of Beth Minardi Signature. The shade selection can range from soft to the most deliberate, vibrant contrast.”

Minardi advises against creating straight partings with this technique because the end result will look like boxes of varying shades throughout the head. She often uses zigzag partings for a more natural effect. With any hair color, the cut is going to be paramount as well. Make sure you’re pairing color techniques with an appropriate cut to create the ultimate flattering style for your client.

Heart-shaped faces are broader in the forehead and have a more narrow chin. The goal with color contouring on a heart shape is to soften the chin without making the forehead appear wider. Ombre and sombre techniques are often compatible with this face shape. Minardi says to create interest away from the so-called problem area— narrowing the forehead and taking attention away from the chin.

“Create a darker root with mixed fine pieces that go down around the face and are highlighted near ears and around the jawline to soften,” says Mario Henrique, Truss Hair Cosmetics artist.

“Very square jaws are best softened by omitting lighter shades at the lower ranges. Stay above ear, following around the back of the head to above the ear on the other side of the head,” Minardi says.

Square or rectangular faces have a defined, angular jawline and broader forehead. In addition to Minardi’s recommendations, you can also try lightening the top of the head and using a darker hue at the sides, which should sound familiar if you’ve contoured with makeup at all. Try a freehand painting technique with these face shapes.

“Layers with various shades of light and dark are applied at the angles of the face,” Henrique says. “The goal is to smooth hard lines and create depth and texture.”

This is one of the more versatile face shapes. A rooty color with highlight around the face works great for oval faces, but have fun with color placement.

“An oval face is considered perfect, so almost anything goes,” Minardi says.

Try to create length and minimize the broadness across the middle of the face. Darker pieces around the face with more lightness at the top and bottom will help make a round face look a little more like its oval cousin.

“A very narrow forehead and temple area can open up if lighter strands are woven from the start of the lower hairline extending up to the outer corner of the eye,” Minardi says. Roots and underneath hair stay darker on a diamond-shaped face in order to make the width of the forehead and chin look closer to that of the middle of the face.

“Try darker shades in the root the follow the part, and babylights that extend from the point about the ears to the tips,” Henrique says.

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