How To Part Your Hair: Find Your Natural Part + 5 Ways To Switch It Up
How you decide to part your hair is completely up to you—whether you opt for a strong center divide or dedicated side-swept style. In fact, you may not even have a natural part at all (more in a moment), and that's completely fine. As with all hairstyles (and beauty writ large, we should add), it's about fashioning whatever makes you feel most comfortable.
Now, if you're here, you're likely wondering how to decide which part suits you best—while it is ultimately up to personal preference, a few factors can help you nail down the style. Namely, where your part naturally falls, how much volume you crave, and your face shape. Below, hairstylists weigh in on it all.
How to find your natural part.
Three easy ways to determine where your strands lie:
Brush your hair back.
"An easy way to find your natural part is to take a wide-tooth comb or a paddle brush and brush back your hair when it's dry," celebrity hairstylist Marcus Francis previously told mbg about parting the hair. "Your hair will fall to either side and fall where it naturally wants to."
Comb and flip wet hair.
Some of us (namely, friends with curls) would be hard-pressed to take a brush to dry strands. Not to worry: You can do the same test when your hair is wet. Take your brush of choice and comb your strands back, then flip your hair upside down a few times and see where the strands naturally fall.
Determine the direction of hair growth.
Although, you don't necessarily have to brush your hair to determine your natural part. Says Francis, you can also take a look at your hairline and find which direction your hair grows out of the follicles. "If you see the hair going toward one side at the hairline, that is also an indicator of what side your hair favors," he explains.
If you notice that your hair doesn't really grow in a certain direction, which is common with full-bodied, bouncy curls, you might not have a visible natural part. That said, a hair part is by no means mandatory—let the spirals fall where they may for gorgeous volume.
How to part your hair: The basics.
No matter how you decide to switch up your part, it's best to begin when your hair is wet—that way, you can air-dry or style without stubborn cowlicks getting in the way. Using hot tools can give you extra hold, but it's not totally necessary: You can also use hair clips to help the sections air-dry in place.
In terms of products, you'll want a wide-tooth comb (or whatever your comb of choice) to brush your hair back, as well as a separate tail comb to slice through the strands and create your precise part. Some sort of styler can also be helpful (thickening spray, leave-in, what have you) to cement the strands and prevent them from bouncing back to their original placement—that's also where those hair clips come into play.
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How to create a middle part.
A part straight down the center requires some precision:
- Comb your hair back, and take the pointy end of the tail comb to create your part down the middle. A good rule of thumb is to trace a line from the bridge of your nose upward with the tail to make sure it's centered.
- Spritz your styler along the side of your hair that wants to go the other way. Say, if you previously sported a side part, you may have an area that bounces back up or won't lie down flat. Comb that stubborn side of your hair down and "work the product into the follicles," says Francis.
- To air-dry, Francis recommends securing the more stubborn side with a few hair clips to avoid any cowlicks.
- For extra hold, take a paddle brush or round brush and create tension on one side of your hair. Take a blow-dryer and aim it at the scalp area (on a low heat setting, so as not to cause damage). "Pull the dryer away every five to 10 seconds to let it cool, then use the dryer again," he says. Repeat on the other side of your hair.
How to create a side part.
Side parts can range from just barely off-center to completely side-swept. Depending on the intensity of the division, you may have to wrangle with more or fewer stubborn strands.
- Comb your hair back, and take the pointy end of the tail comb to create a side part, wherever you want the strands to fall.
- Spritz your styler along the side of your hair that wants to go the other way (i.e., if you had a middle part or a stubborn side part the other way, use your styler on the hairs that bounce up or form cowlicks). Comb down the stubborn side of your hair and work the product into the follicles.
- To air-dry, secure the stubborn side with a few hair clips.
- For extra hold, take a paddle brush or round brush and create tension on one side of your part. Take a blow dryer and aim it at the scalp area (on a low heat setting so as not to cause damage). Pull it away every five to 10 seconds to let it cool, then repeat on the other side of your part.
How to create a diagonal part.
Diagonal parts are beloved for creating natural volume at the crown. Think of a side part, yet it keeps extending diagonally instead of straight back.
- Choose a side to part your hair.
- Take a tail comb and slice it through the hair, aiming for the crown of your head. "Don't aim at the opposite corner, as that would create an imbalance on the top of your head with volume," says Francis. "Aiming toward the center of the crown has a more flattering effect on both sides of the hair, as well as creating natural volume on top." Rather, let the back of your hair fall naturally.
- Air-dry by clipping down the sides or style as usual.
How to create a deep side part.
A deep side part is pretty similar to the regular side part—just, you know, deeper. When it dries, it creates a curvature that looks oh-so-glam.
- First, map how deep you want to place the part: "A good guideline would be the arch of the eyebrow," says Francis. Take your tail comb and trace it from the arch, upward into the hairline.
- Then follow the steps for a regular side part: Spritz your styler along the side of hair that wants to go the other way, comb it down, and work the product into the follicles.
- To air-dry, secure the stubborn side with a few hair clips. "The setting clips are key for this style to prevent the section of hair from separating," Francis adds.
- For extra hold, take a paddle brush or round brush and create tension on one side of your part. Take a blow dryer and aim it at the scalp area (on a low heat setting, so as not to cause damage). Pull it away every five to 10 seconds to let it cool, then repeat on the other side of your part.
How to create a zigzag part.
Similar to a diagonal part, the zigzag offers tons of natural volume as well. For curls (which tend to have more volume already), a zigzag part is an effortless way to add some extra oomph, especially if you're donning pigtails, braids, or buns.
- Use a tail comb to slice through the strands—start at your desired side, says Francis, and trace it toward the crown.
- Rather than tracing straight back (like you would with a diagonal part), switch sides until you reach the back of your head. Francis recommends spacing them out about 2 inches, but you can create as many zags as you please.
- Let air-dry. If you want the zigzag part more visible on the crown (a fun look for pigtails, braids, and buns), grab a gel to slick down the roots and set the style.
Best parts for your face shape.
At the end of the day, you can choose whichever part feels most comfortable for you, and there is something to be said about switching things up from time to time (experts recommend it for healthy hair growth, as putting pressure on the same spot each and every day can cause breakage).
However, there are a few go-to styles experts rely on to flatter certain face shapes and features. Find them below:
- For round faces: "Round face shapes are beautifully offset by bobs and one-side hair tucks," celebrity hairstylist Nick Stenson, artistic director of Matrix, says regarding the face shape. Try a deep side part or diagonal part to elongate and add some definition.
- For square faces: Square-shaped faces have sharp, angular features, so a part that softens the look is key. Perhaps try a middle part with airy, face-framing layers or a side part with side-swept bangs.
- For heart-shaped faces: "Side parts are great," says Stenson, or you could opt for a deep side part to elongate the face and soften up angular features.
- For oval faces: Oval-shaped faces have no sharp angles, yet they have slightly curved outer edges. That said, they tend to pair with any hair part since adding or softening angles isn't necessary.
- For diamond-shaped faces: Diamond-shaped faces and deep side parts are a perfect match, as it softens up the look and creates width at the jaw (diamond faces have a narrow hairline and chin). That said, diagonal parts are also very flattering for this face shape, as it creates width at the hairline.
- For rectangular faces: "Rectangular shapes tend to be flattered with feathery fringes and middle parts," says Stenson. It softens the angles and helps the face appear fuller.
Hair parts are a personal choice, so don't feel like you must subscribe to any one rule (or TikTok trend). But if you're looking for inspiration, use these criteria as a guide.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.