What Is “Hair Theory” And Why Is It Trending On TikTok?

Hair theory is the concept that how you style your hair can drastically change how you look and how others perceive you.

By Hannah Leah3 min read
shutterstock 2024874986 (1)
Shutterstock/Darya Chacheva

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but a hairstyle can tell you a lot about someone’s style and personality, and some hairstyles aren’t for everyone. Not everyone shares the same features, face shape, and head shape, so one hairstyle can look completely different on two separate people. 

The Science Behind Hair Theory

What is this hair theory sorcery, you ask? There is no magic trick to it – it’s all about what the hair does in relation to your face! Each face shape (the basic face shapes are oval, square, round, heart, triangle, oblong, and diamond) is flattered by its own kinds of hairstyles. The best way to find what flatters you is all about what is going to make your face the most balanced and proportional. 

Everything from the length, layers, bangs, texture, and shape of the hair can have an effect on you. A long face might require a style that adds width, a round face tends to look best with hair past the chin, layers will add softness to a face with sharp features, etc. The oval face shape is the most versatile because most hairstyles tend to work with it and it's already very proportional on its own. But each face shape is beautiful and the hairstyle you choose has the opportunity to enhance your natural beauty.

Stereotypes from Hairstyles

The way you have your hair cut or styled can give others an entirely new way of seeing you. For example, in The Princess Diaries, Mia is given a makeover from super poofy, frizzy, and curly hair, to a smooth, straight hair look. When she returns to school with her new hairstyle, she is given all kinds of attention from people who never noticed her before. She went from being seen as the nerdy girl to the popular one. It changed her entire look – and many other aspects of her relationships and life!

Different hairstyles have different connotations or give off different vibes. Hair pulled back tightly might hint at an uptight personality or a formal setting with more rigid etiquette. Hair in loose curls implies the woman made an effort to look feminine. Hair pulled up in a ponytail or messy bun gives off low-key or low-maintenance vibes. Or course, a woman might go through all of these hairstyles in a week for different activities and moods. But being attentive to how we style our hair is just another way to communicate the qualities about ourselves that we want others to notice. 

Looking at hairstyle trends that have emerged over the years, there is a certain aesthetic that goes with each of them. A sleek, blunt bob gives off businesswoman vibes.

Beach waves are a fun, free-spirited look.

And messy bangs are quirky and different. 

The facial features of the person wearing the hairstyle can give off different vibes too. Someone with a petite face and soft features can wear a tight ponytail or bun and it will look fashionable, while someone else with a round, larger head and harsh features might look more masculine with a tight pony. Are you giving Hailey Bieber or Ms. Trunchbull?  

hailey bieber red carpet
ms trunchbull

Change Your Hair, Change Your Life? 

As a hairstylist, I always encourage people to try new things with their hair if they feel insecure about their current look. Just because you’ve always worn a side part doesn’t mean you can’t rock a middle part. Or just because you’re always wearing a ponytail doesn’t mean you will look bad with it down and styled. It might give you all the confidence you’ve been looking for. Move your part around, try curly versus straight, wear it up and down, and see what you like the most! That’s the whole concept of hair theory – it gives you an idea of how your hair placement changes your look and affects the impression others form when they see you.

You can even use different hair placements for different events, depending on the look you’re trying to pull off or the outfit you’re wearing. If you want to feel elegant and royal, put on a fancy dress and do a sleek updo. 

Or if it’s a blazer kind of day, then wear it straight and use some shine products. 

Maybe it’s a beach day that calls for some fun braided hairstyles. 

There will be certain styles that flatter you better than others depending on your features, but you aren’t limited to one hairstyle all the time. When you find the different hairstyles that look good on you and promote the connotations you want, then you have more power to control your image and how people perceive you. If you want to attract a masculine man, you could lean into all things that give off a feminine vibe. If you want to make like Sofia Richie and enter your “classy young wife era,” then take inspiration from the hairstyles she has been wearing lately. You get the point. Master hair theory and make it work for you! 

Closing Thoughts

Seeing the drastic changes a person can go through simply based on their hairstyle is pretty wild. Each decade brings its own hair trends, and we’ve given each one somewhat of a stereotype. Similar to fashion and makeup, hair is an art and can complete or throw off a look. It gives the look personality and definition, and there are so many options. Have fun with your hair, and don’t be afraid to try something new!

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