There are a lot of not-so-awesome changes that come with getting older. Wrinkles, a slower metabolism, and health problems don’t exactly sound like things to look forward to. However, there’s one department that doesn’t have to change as you age. Regardless of your age, a gorgeous, vibrant haircut is your right as a strong, sexy woman. Don’t think you have to kiss your long hair goodbye or give in to the gray hairs taking over. We talked with some of our favorite hairstylists about their tips for the most beautiful styles for their maturing clients.
Change it up
All of the stylists I spoke with agreed that the key to a great cut is being brave enough to try something new. One of the fastest ways to look older is keeping the same haircut for decades. As the times and styles change, don’t be afraid to update your look. Hairstylist Jenna Mast has seen clients age themselves by hanging onto the same style for way too long. She recommends talking with your stylist about how to update your look.
Our stylists could not stop raving about a clean, classic bob. It’s simple, low maintenance, and always in style. According to celebrity stylist Mitch Stone, anyone can rock a long bob, regardless of your age. “A cut like this adds instant style and sexy sophistication,” he told us. “You can’t go wrong.”
Hairstylist, Jenna Mast recommends a modern bob with long layers for her mature clients. “This will give you more movement and an updated look,” she told The List. “There is nothing more dating and high maintenance than a stacked bob that needs to be cut every few weeks to keep it’s shape.”
Go for bangs
Celebrity stylist Mitch Stone recommends bangs for any age, but especially for his more mature clients. Bangs are always in style and can complement any face shape – but make sure your stylist understands your face shape first. Stone explains that bangs can immediately change the look of your face, so it gets a little dangerous if your stylist isn’t experienced. “They (bangs) can make you look really young and sexy or make your nose or forehead look twice the size,” he explains. “It’s important to make sure you trust your hairstylist before going for it.”
Stylist Ruth Roche often suggests her mature clients go for bangs that are long and wispy. “Have them trimmed often rather than cutting them shorter so they last longer,” she told The List. “Fringes that are too short can look utilitarian and boring.”
Don’t be afraid of length
When it comes to our hairstyle, so many of us feel that we have to go short as we age. That’s what we see all around us, so it can feel like the only option, but don’t be afraid to hang on to some length. Jeff Stump, owner of Artkiteks salon explains, “Many people feel that they need to have short hair as they get older. This isn’t always the case; it really depends on the texture of the hair and how their hair ages.”
Super short can be super cute
If you’re ready to get rid of some of your length, our stylists said go for it! Celebrity stylist Mitch Stone loves it when his brave clients want to ditch the length. “If you want to go short, say, Audrey Hepburn, Halle Berry or Mia Farrow, I love that,” he says. “It is an instant style.”
Damian Santiago, co-owner of mizu new york salon, agrees. “I have many mature clients that wear everything from cool pixies to razored bobs,” he told The List. “A mature client with a strong inner confidence can rock any cool and modern look.”
Layer it up
To keep hair from looking and feeling too bulky, our stylists recommended incorporating flattering layers into any cut, regardless of the length.
Judy McGuinness, senior stylist at Mizu New York salon, likes a light, layered look on her more mature clients. “In general, softer haircuts look good on older women,” she explains. “Any length you like, but be sure to incorporate some soft face framing layers!”
Hairstylist Jenna Mast agrees that layers are always flattering, but recommends getting really specific with your stylist before taking the plunge. Be sure explain exactly what you’re looking for with new layers. “Do you want layers to help with movement? Do you want to see more texture? Does having more layers (essentially less hair) help you with styling?” asks Mast. “Hairdressers speak a more complicated language than ‘a few layers’ so it’s easy to have miscommunication if you’re trying something new for the first time.”
Up the volume
Adding layers to your cut can also give a gorgeous volume. Our hair tends to thin as we age, so adding volume is a great way to keep a healthy, youthful look. Stylist Ruth Roche recommends using the right products to keep hair looking fuller. She recommends Pureology Fullfyl, a “3-step system that creates full-bodied hair, with lived-in texture that actually looks and feels like more hair.” Talk with your stylist about the best product for your hair type and thickness.
Tame your frizz
As our hair ages and thins, frizz can become an issue, even if you’ve never had a problem with it. Maintaining shiny, sleek locks keeps our styles looking youthful. Stylist Ruth Roche recommends her clients use a smoothing product to tame any frizz happening. Roche uses Pureology Colour Fanatic 21 benefit spray. “Always blow dry with the nozzle moving from roots to ends to smooth down the cuticle and increase shine,” Roche tells The List. “Youthful hair is shiny!”
The right color
Perhaps even more important than the cut is a youthful color. Stylist Ruth Roche recommends changing up the color as your hair changes with age. “Color is key; keep it dimensional with subtle highlights,” she recommends. “Solid colors, especially dark, can lack dimension and vitality and tend not to complement skin tone.”
When choosing the right hair color, keep in mind the upkeep. Jeff Stump, owner of Artkiteks salon recommends, “blending the color with highlights or a demi-permanent color, so that the color with grow out much better than a solid line and achieving a more natural look.”
No matter what color you choose, going a shade or two lighter could instantly give you a younger look. Celebrity colorist, Kelly Cardenas recommends framing your face with highlights to brighten your skin tone. “Tonal change is also important — you want to stay within 2-3 shades of your target overall color as a higher contrast creates the opposite effect,” he explains. “Lastly, the highlights need to blended in almost an ombre effect opposed to large, chunky pieces.”
Rock your confidence
Regardless of age, so many women feel they need to play it safe with their hair. We may feel nervous about trying something totally new, so we stay with the same simple style for decades. However, you can show your confidence and reinvent your style at any age. “When working with older women, I love giving them a confidence cut—a hairstyle that will show a women’s strength,” Tony Gordon, Master Hair Designer and owner of Gordon Salons, told me. “Personally, I love something bold like a short, chic cut or bob with pixie bangs and textured sides. Adding texture on the sides really enhances the face shape and gives the style an overall flattering silhouette.”
Focus on your face
As we age, we start to lose fat in our faces, which gives us that wrinkled or even droopy look. The solution? Lift the eye up with the right haircut. “For an older woman, I ideally like to keep the length two inches below the chin. This length tends to make the cut appear youthful,” CJ Dougherty, a Gordon Salon Master Hair Designer and Aveda Cutting Coach, told me. “Then I like to pick a facial feature to draw the focus to. It can be adding bangs to show off beautiful eyes or layers to highlight great cheek bones. By pulling attention to a facial feature, this gives the woman confidence.” Talk with your stylist about your favorite features and how to play them up!
Low maintenance is key
No matter your age, none of us wants to spend hours getting ready. It doesn’t matter how great your cut looks in the salon. What matters is that you feel comfortable styling it yourself, so it’s best to go with low-maintenance ‘dos. “For older women, I suggest haircuts that are elegant and easy to style since nobody, especially elderly women who may have arthritis, want to stand with a heavy blow dryer in their hands with their arms raised for over 20 minutes,” Janna Urman, Senior Creative Director at Bella Santé Spa told me. “I suggest a cut with some shorter bangs to make it easy for older women to style their hair on their own with a small round brush.”
A nice easy style is cutting the hair right above the shoulder. “The best haircut for older women is a cut that’s feminine, a shorter blunt above the shoulder that can fit in a pony or half up style, or a styled side part short look that just covers the neck or is above the neckline,” said Urman.
Pull it back
No one is ever too old for a ponytail, so don’t feel like you have to go so short that you can never pull your hair back. “Ponytails work quite well for women no matter what age you are. If you place the ponytail between the nape of your neck and middle of your ear it keeps the ponytail looking sophisticated,” celebrity hairstylist Vernon Francois told me. “This works on all hair textures. Keeping the hair quite tight on the sides of your head, and loose on the tops gives the ponytail a sophisticated and softer look. “
For the ultimate style and ease, hair stylist and owner of The Pomade Shop Erma Williams Nurse recommended a low cut. This still gives plenty of volume without the need to keep long locks. “The best hairstyles for older women are low cuts like caesars and fades with a bit of pizazz,” she told me. “Perhaps add a taper or side part. Low cuts allow women to keep some hair on their head without the fuss of dealing with too much hair.” Ask your stylist about the best version of this cut for your face.
One misconception most of us have about hairstyles as we age is that they have to be more polished. You may not pull off the “just rolled out of bed” look like your 20 year-old daughter, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go for a carefree style.
“An undone cut can also be very flattering and flirty. Think of Helen Mirren and Diane Keaton with their layered bobs that are full of movement and face-framing fringe,” Patty Mocarski, hair stylist and owner of the Little Space Salon in New York City, told me. “Keep everything soft and swingy. The movement lightens everything up. The aging process can be hard enough, so you don’t need an hard haircut too.”
Most of the hair experts I spoke with recommended going lighter as we age, both in color and cut. A soft, light style complemented with bright highlights will look flattering on just about everyone. “I find that when women get older, they should lighten their hair,” Kiyah Wright, hairstylist and CEO of Muze|Hair, told me. “Whether you get highlights or decide to amp it up by going two shades lighter, lighter hair softens your features, making you look ten times younger.”
Less is more
One of the warning signs that we’re starting to look older is when we find ourselves really trying to look younger. When you look at aging celebrities, it’s often the ones trying to hang on to their youthful look that end up looking older than they actually are. When it comes to flattering styles, less is more.
“I always remind my older clients to not be pressured by the Kylie Jenners of the world; less is more,” Wright told me. “Older women should always complement their hairstyles with minimal makeup. All you really need is your favorite mascara, bronzer, and a light lipstick to really flaunt your fabulous!” Embrace your natural beauty and don’t cover it up with too much hair and makeup.
Try a side part
Botox is not the only cure for those forehead wrinkles. A much less invasive strategy is simply to part your hair differently. If you part your hair to the side and embrace some face-framing layers, those short layers can cover any wrinkles popping up.
“Parting your hair off-center with a few swinging strands of hair will hide any fine lines in a discreet way,” Diana Gallegos, editorial fashion hair expert from Cut, Twist, Extend, Hair, told me. “You could also try a center part with any medium to long-length hair. Try different hairstyles to see what will make you look and feel your most youthful.” Play around with the part and length of your layers to bring up your face.
There are some women who make aging look effortlessly gorgeous, and one of them is Robin Wright, also known as the ruthless Claire Underwood from House of Cards. In addition to her impeccable style, her chic long pixie looks timeless.
“If you’ve even seen a trailer for House of Cards, you’ve seen the flattering cut on Robin Wright’s character,” Hair Stylist Rochelle Marbojoc at Spa Pechanga at the Pechanga Resort & Casino told me. “It’s a short, cropped cut, but layers are left long for the effect of lengthening one’s face and creating more angles. The cut works great on most face shapes.” Don’t worry, you don’t have to start acting like her character to nab her signature look.
Find your signature look
As important as it is to change up your style and avoid dating yourself, once you find the most flattering look for you, go ahead and rock it. Don’t feel like you have to keep changing to look younger.
“Sometimes, depending on the face, cutting your hair doesn’t make you look soft, which is the key to obtaining a youthful look,” Celebrity Hairstylist Andre Walker told me. “Take Vanessa Williams for instance. She hasn’t changed. She maintains her length and she looks fantastic. If you can achieve a look, whether long or short, that retains the softness, that’s the trick.” In other words, if it isn’t broken…
Age is just a number
When choosing the right haircut, focus on your type of hair rather than your age. You can rock a chic and strong style at any age. Judy McGuinness, senior stylist at Mizu New York salon, doesn’t believe age should determine your hairstyle. Focus on your hair’s thickness and type first. “If you’ve gotten older and your hair has thinned quite a bit, then going for something shorter will help make it look much thicker,” she explains. “I like a strong bob for finer hair!” Stylist Ruth Roche agrees with the classic bob in a vibrant color at any age. “Something understated and simple makes a statement without trying to ‘look’ younger.”