Allow us to reiterate that we thoroughly enjoy reading your comments (including tweets, emails, etc). Flattering or critical, insightful or ugly, they make us think (and cry, but mostly think), and have even spurred some of our finest posts. You guys are the best / we couldn't do it without you / love to love you / all of that.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago a comment appeared under our Mother's Day-themed Mom Knows Best story that divided the office. Well, not really, but it did have to do with that great divide atop your head: your hair part. Isabel wrote:
“This is unrelated, but I wanted to ask and didn't know where else to post! Hopefully no one will mind:
I was wondering if ITG could do a post on hair parts. It comes from a bit of an odd place; I realized that one of my nostrils was bigger than the other (the things we notice...). So I thought the best way to deal with it would be to part my hair on the side with the smaller nostril, and have my hair fall partially covering the side with the larger one; seemingly simple, but it just doesn't fall right! How do I get it to part to go the other way? Once it stays down, how do I make it so it falls naturally? Is there a right or wrong side to part your hair on (to emphasize your 'best side')?
It'd be great to finally get an answer (if there even is one!) x”
Isabel, good on you for asking! While hair cuts are often prescribed by face shape, and hair parts are discussed in terms of trends, not much has been said in the way of parting your hair to complement facial features. And, just days after we read Isabel's comment, none other than Arianna Huffington confessed to us that switching up her part once caused everyone at the HuffPo offices to think she had “done something dramatic.” Fiddling with that line, Huffington concluded, “completely changes your look.” But how? And if it's true, what should one consider when choosing a different part? And, once chosen, how do you get it to stay??
We phoned professionals of both face and follicle to comb through these very serious questions: Dr. Andrew Ordon, Professor of Plastic Surgery at Dartmouth Medical School (better known as Dr. Ordon from TV’s The Doctors), and one of our recent hairstylist crushes, Holli Smith (otherwise known as @Hollishithead on Instagram). Here are their thoughts:
On Middle Parts
Dr. Ordon: “Most women part in the middle. A center part will make your face look more full, but it also elongates and accentuates the forehead."
Holli Smith: “I suggest people to try to wear a middle part sometimes to give a more relaxed, hippie look. And if they style it in a cleaner way, it can create a really classic hair identitiy.”
On Side Parts
Ordon: “We all have basic facial asymmetries, which can be attributed to any anatomic component of the face. Changing your hairstyle can help achieve a better facial balance. To compensate for one larger side of the face, set your part on the opposite side. Brad Pitt and Beyoncé, for example, part on the left and have a slightly larger right side of the face, and Kate Hudson and Cary Grant part on the right and have a more pronounced left side."
Smith: “I like a messy side part for women to make their look cooler and grungier, and that applies to a deep side-part as well, which will loosen up your personality. A clean part can say so many different things about a person. It makes outfits look classic, graphic, or masculine. On men, a side part makes them look like real gentleman. It’s classic."
Smith: "Some people are used to having flexibility or can't bare to have their hair on their face at all—you know, those who like to have the physical relief of running their hands through their hair. I think it's amazing how much this look embodies character rather than image. Think of River Phoenix. My styling tip in this case would be to keep your hair from being too clean. It's going to help with that 'effortless' appearance that god knows we all need help with."
On Bangs vs. Bare Forehead
Ordon: “Bangs will make your face look less long; if you pull your hair back or comb it straight back, it will elongate your face, especially for short or oval shapes.”
Cutting for Your Part
Smith: “I most definitely cut for different parts. It depends on a person’s cowlick, natural parting, and their average place of separation."
Growing Out Your Hair
Smith: "I always suggest playing with your part to get you through the growing-out stages. Especially with bangs, in which case I’d recommend starting with a middle part, and, when the bangs start to grow out, get into the eyes, and become irritating, pushing the bangs to the side. Then, you can have the bangs turn into 'hair on the side of your face,' rather than bangs. At that point, try a deep side part. It will look really sleek and begin to take on a new life.”
The Necessary Tools
Smith: "You can use as little as a fine-tooth comb and some water to achieve a part, or even just your hands can get you there. For a perfect part, I use a comb with a silver stick end on it. We call it a pin-tail comb, in the '50s they called it a 'rat-tail comb.' The silver end lets you correct any mistakes you see in your part by sort of needle-pointing each strand onto its appropriate side of hair."
Making Your New Part Stay
Smith: "My favorite trick to changing and holding a new part is to wear a beanie while hair dries. This works for guys and girls, curly and straight hair. Bobby pins are another great au natural trick. That being said, when I’m styling, I use a lot of Oribe Maximista Thickening Spray because it gives a lot of control. If you brush it out, it will have a dry, matte effect, and if you don’t brush it out, it gives a cool, beachy, grungy look. It works for everything. For men, short hair, and afros and kinky textures, I like Oribe’s Rough Luxury Molding Paste—it’s matte but creamy."
And remember, don't be scurred!
Ordon: “I recommend working in concert with your hairstylist and try mixing it up.”
Smith: “Changing your part is a fun, temporary experiment. You have to learn to work around where your natural growth pattern in your hair meets the skin on your face.”
We're sure, Isabel, that your nose is perfect, but it seems you were on the right track. Hedging your part on your "better side" (everyone has one, right?) will indeed enhance your favored features, and can have a radical effect on your overall look. But like everything in beauty, the only thing that really matters when styling your hair is that it leaves you feeling beautiful/cool/100% badass. SO GO NUTS! (And please, let us know how it goes.)