BY BRITTANY BROLLEY
There are certain hairstyles for older women that are on their way out. After all, just as women’s bodies age, so, too, does their hair. And your aging locks may pressure you to pay some additional attention. “The most common changes that occur in our hair as we get older are greying, changes in texture and density, and thinning, particularly at the crown or in the front of the hairline,” Erin Gilbert, hair expert and board-certified dermatologist, told Allure.
“When your hair starts to change you have to discuss it with people who are qualified to help you make changes that will get you to a happy place,” Gilbert continued. This may mean consulting a dermatologist or chatting with your hairstylist about ways to care for your hair as it ages. “My number one piece of advice is: treat what you can and then go with the flow,” Gilbert said. “This may be an opportunity to change your hairstyle and color for the better.”
There are a ton of haircuts and colors out there, but not all of them work well with aging hair. According to hairstylists, older women should, and are, letting the following hairstyles go extinct.
Very long hairstyles won’t be very popular for older women
If you’ve always had very long hair, it can be hard to picture yourself with a shorter hairstyle as an older woman. Nevertheless, many women begin considering a big chop when they’re in their mid 40s. According to a poll conducted by Nurture Replenish of 2,000 women over the age of 40, 46 was found to be the “watershed year for many women,” a spokeswoman for the company told Business Standard.
It makes sense why more and more older women are considering ditching their long locks. Longer hairstyles “tend to drag you down and age you well beyond your years,” John Blue, hairstylist and owner of Boss Hair Group in Chicago, Ill., told The List. While some older women think that “holding on to their hair is a way to hold on to their youth,” Blue says that’s just not true. “In most cases, it’s very unflattering,” the expert added. “Hair tends to weaken and get brittle and more sparse as we age, so it’s best to keep it shorter, freshly-cut and sharp-looking.”
Older women won’t be seen rocking lengthy layered hairstyles
In addition to ditching extremely long, one-length haircuts, fewer women are opting for lengthy layers. Natural hair expert and founder of Hayah Cosmetics Darrius Peace revealed that long hair and long layers can have a similar effect on the face. “As we age, everything about bodies and faces start to descend,” he explained. “Longer, hanging hair exaggerates bags under eyes [and] magnifies lines and wrinkles.” Shorter hair can give off “the illusion of fuller hair,” Peace told The List, and is generally a safer bet than drooping layers.
If you have mid-length hair, there’s no reason to sacrifice its overall length. Simply adding in shorter layers can reinvent your hairstyle and avoid any of the unintended consequences Peace mentioned. You may find a textured lob, like Blythe Danner’s, to be extremely flattering. The layers aren’t severe, but they’re just enough to work with the actress’ features as opposed to against.
“Shoe polish” hair is a hairstyle that’s lost popularity among older women
In an attempt to keep their grays covered, many older women used to rely on dark dyes. The result, however, was an unnatural-looking hair color nicknamed “shoe polish” by hair experts. “It can look opaque, which can showcase grays and regrowth,” colorist Louis Licari told Allure. “It will also zap life and color from your face.”
Thankfully, this hairstyle is meeting its end when it comes to older women. “I see the dark ‘shoe polish’ hair color going out of style for older women,” Gareth Ward, certified Wella colorist and artistic designer at Salon Eva Michelle in Boston, Mass., confirmed to The List.
In place of pitch black hair, Licari recommends requesting a single-process color with highlights, lightening your hair by one shade. “This will add dimension, disguise the grays, and still flatter your complexion.” If you opt for boxed dye, Negin Zand, colorist at Salon Benjamin in West Hollywood, Calif., advises going even lighter. “Buy a box that’s one shade lighter than the color you desire,” she told Allure.
Concealed grays may soon be a no-no when it comes to hairstyles for older women
Although it used to be the It thing to do, completely covering your grays, even with non-shoe polish colors, is falling out of fashion. For those of you who are sick of touching up your roots, this is pretty much the best news ever. Tonya Reid, hairstylist and owner of the beauty salon T. Reid and Company in Charlotte, N.C., previously told The List that she believes even “more women [will embrace] their grays” in 2020.
Jamie DiGrazia, award-winning hairstylist and owner of Logan Parlor in Chicago, Ill., noted that coloring over grays is already not as popular as it once was for older women seeking new hairstyles. “It’s becoming more and more acceptable for women to wear their natural gray hair,” she told The List. While it’s true that gray hair naturally has a coarser texture, it can be softened. “There are a variety of haircare products to keep the wiry texture at bay and keep the tone brilliant,” she explained. “Color glosses and rinses can blend the silver tones [instead of] using a monochromatic dark tone used for full coverage.”
Synthetic bob wigs will no longer be a hairstyle sported by older women
Frustrated with thinning or damaged hair, many older women — including Dolly Parton — have turned to wigs. It’s not a new trend, but wigs have certainly changed from how they were decades ago. Shay Ashual, aka the Master of Wigs, told Vogue that Beyoncé actually helped propel wigs into the mainstream. “She made it OK to wear wigs openly, and created a demand for lace-front wigs [more realistic, better quality] that were normally only available in the film and theatre industries,” he explained. “Wig companies saw this as an opportunity to up their game and make it into the mainstream.”
With better wigs on the market, this means all of those poor-quality, synthetic wigs older women used to wear are going out of style — and fast. Darrius Peace, natural hair expert and founder of Hayah Cosmetics, said synthetic bob wigs, in particular, are trending out because of “the amount of luster that we see with [them] look inauthentic and cheap.” He continued, “The luster in the hair looks plastic and doesn’t really accurately mimic the luster of human hair.” Peace instead recommends going for a “customized cropped human hair wig.”
Older women won’t be donning helmet-shaped hairstyles
Sye South, hairstylist, self-professed “huge hair nerd,” and artistic designer at Mane Attraction Salon in Phoenix, Ariz., told The List that women tend to get into a “comfort zone” with their hair. This results in getting the “same cut for years” and sticking with the “same routine of styling since high school.”
As hairstyles and trends change, though, South said it’s imperative to stay up to date. That means it’s officially time to give up those helmet-shaped hairdos that are not doing older women any favors. Yes, according to South, those styles are most definitely on their way out the door.
Instead, the hair guru recommends trying something a tad trendier, like “soft waves, narrower silhouettes, [or an] airy texture.” No matter the haircut you’re considering, South advises consulting your hairstylist for their opinion. And don’t worry about a new ‘do being “age appropriate.” The hairstylist says there’s “no such thing.” It just has to “suit you — your features, your personality,” she explained.
Too-short hairstyles won’t be in style for much longer
Longer hair may not only draw attention to thinning that occurs as a result of aging, but it’s also weaker. “Shorter hair is stronger than longer strands, so even very fine hair can benefit from a super-short cropped cut,” Byrdie explained. In addition to actually being stronger than a long hairstyle, pixies can give off the illusion that your hair is thicker than it really is.
Yet and still, buzzed or extremely short styles for older women are on their way out, Deena Von Yokes, master stylist, colorist, and owner of Studio Savvy Salon in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., confirmed when speaking with The List. Of course, one trend doesn’t go away without another one taking its place. Thankfully, the newer style — “less precise cuts [that] create a softer, more blended look with layers,” according to Von Yokes — is a more flattering one. This soft pixie will give thin hair much-needed texture and volume.
Older women are giving up more traditional short hairstyles
It’s not just super short cuts that are trending out. Michael Sparks, hairstylist and co-founder of Tabb and Sparks Salon in Santa Monica, Calif., told The List that traditional shorter cuts are also “falling out of style.” He continued, saying that older women have started opting for “some length with bits of shorter hair” to “[frame] the face.” Think: Julianne Moore.
“In person, the first thing you notice about 58-year-old [Julianne] Moore are those cheekbones, which I reckon you could legitimately grate parmesan off,” wrote Jane Mulkerrins in a 2019 profile of the actress for the Evening Standard. Of course, that’s not entirely due to her haircut — but it helps. “A haircut can definitely not only affect a person’s face, but also enhance a person’s bone structure,” Hansen Liu, a hairstylist at Marie Robinson Salon in New York City, confirmed to Refinery29. And you don’t necessarily need short hair to make that happen.
Older women just aren’t wearing hairstyles with feathered bangs anymore
For older women, “broad, feathered bangs” are, well, going out with a bang, Sye South, hairstylist and artistic director at Arizona-based Mane Attraction Salon, told The List. But that doesn’t mean all styles of bangs are off the table.
When chatting with The List previously, master hairstylist Ruth Roche explained that longer, wispier bangs can look stunning on older women. “Have them trimmed often rather than cutting them shorter so they last longer,” she further advised. “Fringes that are too short can look utilitarian and boring.”
It’s also important to remember that bangs can completely change up your look — for better or for worse. “[Bangs] can make you look really young and sexy or make your nose or forehead look twice the size,” celebrity stylist Mitch Stone noted. “It’s important to make sure you trust your hairstylist before going for it.” You’ll also want to consider your face shape before settling on a particular kind of bangs.
Blunt bangs are too harsh for older women’s hairstyles
Like broad, feathered bangs, the blunt bang trend on mature faces is nearing its end, Deena Von Yokes, master stylist, colorist, and owner of Studio Savvy Salon in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., confirmed to The List.
While blunt, or straight-across, bangs may work on fashion mogul Anna Wintour, that’s certainly not the case for the every woman. And it’s not just age that’s a factor when determining if this hairstyle is right for you. Samantha Stonehouse, senior stylist at Toronto-based Cowlick Salon, told Chatelaine, “Square face shapes should avoid harder, blunt-looking fringe.” Instead, she recommended “softer wispy fringe that’s longer around the temples or a side-swept look.” Both styles would also work well for older women.
When opting for wispier bangs, you also don’t need to get them trimmed as often. “A longer curtain bang or side-swept fringe can last a long time, more like six to eight weeks to maintain the style,” she added.
“Poodle perms” are hairstyles that are way outdated
Although perms have started to make their way back in as a trend for younger women, mature women have been ditching the style. Sye South, hairstylist and artistic designer at Mane Attraction Salon in Phoenix, Ariz., told The List that older women are moving away from perms, especially the “poodle perm.” Bryant Anthony, hairstylist and advanced designer at Salon Eva Michelle, also told us that he’s noticed older women trading in their poofy perms for posh pixies.
With natural gray hair becoming more popular among mature women, it only makes sense that perms are dying out. As Sally Beauty explained, “gray hair is usually very resistant” to perming. But it is possible.
If you don’t want to give up your beloved perm, why not try a modernized version like the texture wave? “Unlike the perms of the ’80s, these texture-creating waves are done on much larger rods and use gentler chemicals,” Michon Kessler, stylist at Studio M salon in Reno, Nev., told Today. However, you’ll want to consult your hairstylist and make sure your hair is strong enough to handle this type of perm.
Severe bobs aren’t a good hairstyle for older women these days
From classic, sleek bobs to lobs with subtle layers, there are a number of cuts that look absolutely perfect on older women. “Shoulder-skimming styles are super flattering, as they graze the décolletage and gently frame the face,” Sam Burnett, hairstylist and owner of Hare & Bone salon, told Byrdie. “It’s also worth flagging that thinning hair, especially in younger women, is on the rise, and lobs are one of the best ways to create the illusion of thicker, fuller hair, which is incredibly youth-boosting.” Burnett has a special fondness for “the modern bob” as it “has a defined outline that sits around the jawline framing your face and directing the eyes towards your best features.”
However, some mature women are starting to forego one particular bob, Deena Von Yokes, master stylist, colorist, and owner of Studio Savvy Salon in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., told The List. Bobs that are “too severe” and draw a harsh “line on [the] face” is a style many older women are looking to avoid.
“Short, choppy layers” should be avoided in hairstyles for older women
While carefully-cut layers can be useful for camouflaging thinning hair, Bryant Anthony, hairstylist and advanced designer at Salon Eva Michelle, said he’s seeing fewer and fewer older women opting for “short, choppy layers.” Instead, women are choosing longer styles with longer bangs.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get layers, of course. They can still serve a great purpose. “Layers can serve to soften features by adding volume and movement,” Gina Rivera, stylist and founder of Phenix Salon Suites, told The List. The key is to go for subtle layering as opposed to choppy, especially if you’re going for a more blunt-style bob. “If it’s too layered, it’ll be [overwhelming],” celebrity hairstylist Matt Fugate explained to Allure. The expert explained that the cut “should be slightly shorter in the back than it is in the front because of how much density you naturally have in the back of your hair.”
Face-covering hairstyles won’t be in for older women
Perhaps in an attempt to disguise all signs of aging, face-covering styles — like broad bangs and short layers — were once the go-to mature hairstyle. As of this writing, though, that trend has already started to meet its end. Gareth Ward, certified Wella colorist and artistic designer at Salon Eva Michelle in Boston, Mass., told The List that more older women are “keeping their hair off their face and showing off their face shape.”
If you like to keep your hair a bit longer, you can pull off this look with a braid or a ponytail. However, Gina Rivera, stylist and founder of Phenix Salon Suites, doesn’t advise pulling your hair back too tightly. The expert recommends that both hairstyles be worn “slightly looser as we age.” Rivera continued, saying, “Pulling out soft strands of hair around the face can generate a gorgeous look, especially with the right hair accessory.”