The Best Part


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."

On Flexi-Parts

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.)

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Amanda Raponi

    I started parting my hair on the right side years ago when I realized that a center part made my nose look bigger.

    • Poulette

      I totally agree with this - I experimented with a middle part last year for about a year, but without bangs, I eventually felt it made my "important" nose take on an even greater importance... Fun to try, but not for me. I guess I'm not a free spirited hippie :-)

  • Kattttt

    I moved my side part to the center a year ago, when I noticed that the hair was getting quite thin at the hairline where it parted. I now have a funny looking tuft of hair growing where the part used to be - so I'll say I recommend moving it around, at least if you have long and heavy hair!
    It's better than the way my hairdresser reacted though. I mentioned it as I hadn't realised the part was at fault and he told me "just wait until you've had a couple of kids" - it pissed me off, but I'm also slightly apprehensive, now. Any advice to minimize hair loss during pregnancy, if the day should come?! Or during times of stress, as they are always coming... and shedding like a sheepdog doesn't help!

    • murt

      Same thing happened to me - I always parted my hair on the left side, but my hair became quite thin right at the part too, so I switched it to the other side.

  • Lera

    OK, I know it may sound funny to some, but I heard it a lot (one of these Russian spooky stories) that if one does not change her hair parting and wears it the same loss begins at that exact spot (where the parting is). I never change mine, but usually wear a messy middle part. Please, tell me, is it true? Thanks.

    • Kattttt

      It was true for me! It grows out again when you move the part, though. In an incredibly goofy looking way.

  • Suzanne

    Most women part in the middle? Hmm, I don't find that to be true where I live. I certainly can't pull it off; it looks way too harsh.

  • Ana

    Does anyone have more tips on how to achieve the flexi-part? I have always loved how it looks but have no idea how to style my hair to get there. Googling for flexi-part didn't yield any results either... I'd love any ideas!

    • Eli

      The key to the flexi part is to have your hair dry AWAY from your face. i brush it all back and put it in a low bun after I wash it until the roots dry, then let the rest dry naturally.

    • Georgie

      Eli is right about the hair drying. As for 'maintenance', put a little styling creme into your hands and brush it through your hair straight down the middle, like you're a guy with floppy hair pushing it out of his eyes. This should help to hold it in place and look a little bit "I don't care what my hair's doing". It probably works slightly better with cuts that have texture//layers, or short hair.

  • Clarisse

    Very interesting! I moved from side to center a few months ago and it's true it can change everything!

    • Shara

      lol When I moved my side part to center a few years ago, my friends were like "What the fuck have you done?". I remembered my best friend even laughing at it (I guess somehow center part reminds him of like, your stereotypical nerdy kids with braces and glasses with straps). But I kept the part and, apparently, now it's "my thing" (in a good way).

      • Clarisse

        People were asking me what I changed too but couldn't say it was the part, funny x)

  • Lana Nasser

    I envy all the fabulous women of the world that can get away with the middle part- and look goddesses. I donned a middle part back in the day when I was just a small child, but after I went with the side part, I could not imagine my face with a middle part. I feel like I would look absolutely hideous. With that said, hats off to all you middle-part gals, I envy you all!

    • Peet

      This exactly!

    • Shara

      Have you actually tried it? Idk, chances are you might be the only one thinking that! Maybe try it for like, your next trip to the grocery store?

      • Lana

        I think I just might. Thanks for the motivation! :)

  • Bennett Bistline

    Can't forget the middle part goddess herself Lisa Marie Fernandez. So true, as Smith said, it gives a more hippie look. And isn't Fernandez the epitome of 70's chic? I really only know this from reading ITG.

  • Shara

    Great post! I've always wanted to try a more dramatic side part for like special occasions or a night out, but I have a lot of baby hair. I have a problem with hair fall but they grow back constantly too, which is great since I don't want to be bald, but I can't dramatically change my part since every time I try to, there will be lots of tiny hair sticking out at the part and it just doesn't look okay :(

  • freudianslippers

    i'd love more stuff about how to deal with facial asymmetry. when i look in the mirror it's not a big deal, but in photos i ALWAYS notice how lopsided my face looks (and i already have a lopsided smile!). in particular, my eyebrows are really different shapes (one is way more arched than the other) and one eye is definitely bigger than the other.

    • maren

      The brow tech at Anastasia told me that eyebrows are "sisters" not "twins"! Embrace their differences!

  • grey_grey

    i disagree that a center part makes your face look fuller - i have a long face and i feel like a center part makes it look even longer! i think it might look best for someone with very feminine features. i part my hair on the left.

  • Katherine

    I love this post! Parting can definitely change your look, and it's fun to mix it up every once in a while.


  • renaphuah

    bangs forever!

  • The Horticult

    Thank you for this! Been semiobsessed ever since Radiolab's "Mirror Mirror" episode ( It discusses, along w/ Abe Lincoln's side part, how a high school outcast's changing which side he parted his hair subsequently flipped the script on his whole social standing.

  • Kristen

    I was wondering if bangs would work for me: I have a long face but I also have a long chin, would bangs make my chin look more prominent?

  • sarahh

    i cant help but wonder what would carolyne bessete be wearing today, how she would look, what trends she would have inspired. i miss having her to look at :-(

  • Sarah

    I have a follow up question. He mentioned how to deal with one facial feature being larger but what should I do about my crooked nose. It tilts ever so slightly to the left and is a big sore point to me when I look in the mirror. Should I part on the right to offset this?

  • Haley

    Here's my problem...I have very blonde hair, but it's blonder where the sun actually hits it on a daily basis, the underside is actually quite dark. That being said, when I move my part at all, all of a sudden I seem to have either ugly roots growing in or a different hair color entirely, almost dirty blonde. I can't stand it even for a day so I feel as though I can never change my part.

  • Prenouveau

    I think we need an ITG event at which we all look at a True Mirror to figure out what part works best for us (and not run screaming, I hear those mirrors are freaky!)


Oribe Maximista Thickening Spray
Oribe Rough Luxury Molding Paste

Dearest ITG Reader,

We're working on something new called Glossier. It's launching soon(!) and we want you to be the first to know updates.

xo, Emily