Expert Advice

How Hair Growth Patterns, Face Shape and Facial Features Influence Your Male Client's Haircut

Lauren Salapatek | July 20, 2015 | 8:04 AM
Hair Growth Patterns
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Oval Face
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Long Face
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Round Face
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Square Face
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Triangular Face
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Prominent Nose
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Told more times than he can even recall by celebrity superstars like Paul Newman, Johnny Carson, Steve McQueen, and Freddie Prinze that he “saved their hair,” Jim Markham, transformed the way men cut, cared for and styled their hair.

Markham’s technique called the “Markham Method” is a two-part process that introduced the concept of daily shampooing and daily conditioning for men paired with a cutting technique in which hair is cut taking into consideration a man’s lifestyle, his hairs’ natural growth pattern, as well as his face and head shape. According to Markham, “The perfect haircut for a man is one that looks like he hasn’t had one and that he doesn’t need one.” 

His technique was so wildly popular that the young barber from New Mexico quickly became one of the most sought-after celebrity stylists of his day, revolutionizing men’s hair cutting and styling. His methodology is still extremely relevant today. Here, Markham offers MODERN his thoughts on hair growth patterns and face shapes, and how these influence a haircut.

Hair Growth Patterns

  • It is essential that a hairdresser recognize which way the hair is growing and cut in the direction of the growth pattern. Hair only grows one of two ways: clockwise to the right, or counter-clockwise to the left.
  • Most people have just one cowlick or swirl originating in the crown area, however one in one thousand have two, and one in ten thousand have three. For people with multiple cowlicks, always choose the strongest, most dominate growth pattern when doing your cut.

Oval Face

  • Of all the face shapes, the oval-shaped face is the most desirable and the most flattering. Men and women with oval-shaped faces can wear almost any style.
  • 9 out of ten people prefer a cut that frames the face.
  • If your cilent doesn't have an oval-shaped face, the Markham Cutting Technique will allow a hairdresser to cut shape into the hair to balance the face, deemphasizing unattractive features such as the ears and nose, while emphasizing attractive features.
  • For an oval-shaped face, hair should be cut in the Markham basic cut, which is flat along the top and vertical on the sides, leaving the corners full.  Hair should be cut to the shape of the head, rounding down the back and then straight to the neckline.
  • Sideburns can be worn in any style.
  • Cut hair close to the ears straight up and down, as not to draw attention to the ears. 

Long Face

  • For a long face you want to cut hair so that the face appears shorter. Cutting with the growth pattern, leave hair flat on top and full on the sides, while rounding to the contour of the head. Keep hair longer in the front to come down onto the forehead, giving the illusion of a shorter face.
  • Cut sideburns to be angled up slightly to further shorten the face.

Round Face

  • For a round face you want to achieve the opposite effect: creating the illusion of length. This can be achieved by creating height at the top and the corners, while cutting hair vertically on the sides.
  • Sideburns should be angled down to further lengthen the face.

Square Shape

  • Similarly, for a square-shaped face you will want to create height at the crown, however you will want to round the corners to decrease hard angles and give the appearance of length.
  • Keep hair full on the sides and sideburns angled down to further lengthen the face.

Triangular Shape

  • For a triangular-shaped face the goal is to deemphasize the corners of the hair, while keeping fullness at the sides and rounding the bottom to draw attention away from the forehead and toward the chin.
  • Keep height at the top while cutting corners shorter and leaving the sides full.
  • Keep sideburns low and full, cutting them straight to balance the face.

Prominent Nose

  • A prominent nose draws all attention forward, so to counteract a large nose it is important to leave hair longer and fuller in the back.
  • Offset the nose by leaving hair shorter on top and fuller in the back to create a sense of balance.
  • Also, leave hair longer on the forehead extending nearly to the nose, but just back from it and allow it to hang over to the side to frame the face.


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