Finding an age appropriate haircut has never been easy and finding an age-appropriate haircut that doesn't make you look older than you are is even more difficult. Whether you are in your 40s, 50s, or 60s, the right haircut can do wonders for looking younger.
Headline after headline declares 40 is the new 20, but we respectfully disagree. Women in their 40s are sexy, self-assured, and at the top of their game. Why go back? Whether you're looking for a dramatic change or just want to keep your hair long and lush, we've got the best cuts for you.
Best Hairstyle for Your Age
The best haircuts for women in their 40s, 50s and 60s
Rinna's short shag combines sex appeal with a hint of sportiness. The key, says hairstylist Kerrie Urban, is not to over-style. "Avoid using products like hard gels and mousses that make hair stiff, and instead opt for styling creams with light to medium hold," she says. If you're thinking of chopping off your hair, first consider your features. Urban warns, "If you've always hated your nose, you probably won't like the attention a short cut draws to it. On the other hand, it can accentuate high cheekbones," like Rinna's. Then, think about texture: If your hair is coarse and curly, it will be difficult to tame; if you have superfine hair, it could look limp.
This classic style is the perfect choice for women who want to look chic without a lot of maintenance. "Almost any hair texture or face shape can carry a bob," says Urban, "though tight curls may need a bit more layering, and those with round faces should opt for longer versions. Chin-length bobs are ideal for petite and angular face shapes." If you want an edgier look, ask for shorter layers in the back and longer ones toward the front.
Obama was the talk of every media outlet in the country when she debuted her trendy bangs this year. "Fringe can definitely add an element of youth to any haircut," says Urban. "Her bouncy bob is the perfect example of hair that looks professional and fashionable at the same time." To achieve a soft look like the First Lady's, Urban recommends having your stylist slightly round your bangs to your face, rather than cutting them straight across. For piecey definition, try a styling paste like Pureology Texture Twist on damp hair.
"The classic shoulder-length cut is always in style," says Urban. "It's easy to maintain, and the styling options are endless." A medium cut lets you transform from ponytail during the day to beautiful curls at night. And while Garner's cut may look one length, there are subtle, long layers throughout to define the curls and give overall bounce.
That old rule about not having long hair past a certain age? It's outdated—just ask Lopez. With her (much!) younger man and killer curves, we imagine she's feeling sexier than ever—and her hair reflects it. The long length works because of the shape of her textured layers in the front, which open up her face and give the waves a loose, flowing quality. Urban's advice for keeping long hair looking great? Use a deep conditioner weekly, because "the longer the hair, the longer those ends have been around.
Angela Bassett's short haircut is the anti-short short haircut: There is absolutely nothing predictable about it. "This cut works on all hair textures, and it's going to draw attention to your eyes, but also to everything else—your ears, your nose, your jawline," says Solano. "Adding a short, side-swept fringe can make it a little more wearable—and looks really cool—but it's still going to be a daring cut." One other bizarro but important factor to take into account: "This cut only works on certain head shapes," she says. "If you have a flat head, like I do, it's going to make the top of your head look square, and no one wants that." But if you're willing to go for it, get Bassett's cool, spiky look by mussing up your hair with your fingers as you blow-dry, then do a little damage control: "Short cuts like this tend to get really puffy after they dry, so pop a baseball or knit cap on for ten minutes to calm it," says Solano. Finish by rubbing a dime-size amount of pomade between your fingers and working it through the top layers to spike-ify them. Solano likes Shu Uemura Yokan Craft for creating the effect. "It makes the hair piecey and has some hold, without being heavy or greasy."
Jodie Foster, congratulations on your Lifetime Achievement Award—and also, on achieving the perfect bob. "The A-line shape and length make this bob so stylish," says hairstylist Kattia Solano of Butterfly Studio Salon in New York City. It's ideal for fine or thinning hair (it gives limp hair instant shape) but also works on medium hair. (Just stay away if your hair is thick—it'll look too puffy.) Ask your stylist to cut blunt ends with a razor. "That gives you a softer line than scissors, which tend to make bobs look like a broom," says Solano. And see how this bob hits right under Foster's chin? That's key. "If you go even an inch longer, the cut starts to look matronly," says Solano. "But you could add long, side-swept bangs, if you want to soften up the look." To style the cut, prep damp hair with a volumizing mousse on the roots (Solano likes Kérastase Paris Age Premium Mousse Substantive) and a dime-size amount of anti-frizz serum on the length (try L'Oréal Ever Pure Smooth Frizz Free Serum), and then blow-dry straight with a paddle brush.
"I always admire how Julianne Moore makes this length work—it's long without overdoing it," says Solano. "The key is that her cut is really clean and defined, which looks sophisticated." If you have fine or medium hair, ask your stylist for delineated layers from your collarbone down, with blunt ends. If your hair is thick, adding soft layers on just the underside of the back of your hair (with scissors, not a razor) will thin it out just enough that you can still go for a blunt bottom. Sleek, uniform ends are particularly helpful if you're experiencing any thinning at the crown: "That's another common change, and the worst thing you can do is to add lots of layers in the back to try to create fullness," says Solano. "You're better off keeping the back sleek and adding more layers in the front to create volume around your face and help detract from the crown." For Moore's soft and supersexy wave, start by prepping the length of damp hair with a nickel-size amount of lightweight leave-in conditioner. It'll help tame flyaways and add smoothness and shine (not to be a downer, but that's especially important after menopause, when your scalp produces less of the natural oils that do just that). Solano likes Kérastase Nutritive Nectar Thermique. Blow-dry your hair straight with a big, round brush, and then wrap the middle and ends around a one-and-half-inch curling iron. "Grab large sections of hair so you get big, soft waves," says Solano. Go over the finished style just once with a boar-bristle brush, and your waves will be even softer and glossier.
Remember when collarbone-length hair was old-fashioned? Here's one really good clue that's not true anymore: Madonna is wearing it. "Her long, textured bob and loose waves are so much cooler than that old-school shoulder-length hair that's smooth and voluminous and coiffed," says Solano. "She has lots of uneven, piecey layers, which make this cut work—but go easy on them if you have fine hair." Another helpful tweak that really holds true for all of these styles: "One of the biggest changes I see in the 50s is that the hair starts to thin around the hairline," says Solano. "Switching to a side part can do a lot to hide your hairline." To create Madonna's beachy texture, mist on a heat-protectant spray, like John Frieda Frizz-Ease Heat Defeat Styling Spray (don't skip that step, since hair becomes weaker with age—sorry, Madge), and wrap the middle and ends around a one-inch curling iron. Finish by spritzing on a beach or saltwater spray (try Oribe Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray) and shaking out your waves with your fingers.
Pixies spotlight the face. So even if you have one as fine-featured and photogenic as Rossellini's, it doesn't hurt to keep the cut soft. "This is a feminine silhouette that's a little longer around the ears and wispy around the forehead and neckline," says Alberto VO5 spokesman and New York City hairstylist Chris Lospalluto. "Using a razor is great because it gives the ends movement and texture." Straighter textures will have an easier time with this style; use pomades and waxes, like VO5 Salon Series Perfect Hold Styling Gel, to add texture and piecey-ness.
As they say, bangs or Botox—and an angled fringe always comes to the rescue if you want to cover up any forehead lines. More than that, this look is just plain sexy. "The flattering length and side sweep make this feel fresh without going short," says Lospalluto. Ask for collarbone-length hair with light layering on the bottom only—the key is to keep fullness throughout. "The longer layers allow you to curl or bend the ends under or outward. You can even use velcro rollers to enhance movement and body."
To get Keaton's modern and universally flattering shag, have your stylist cut your hair just above your shoulders with long, shaggy layers sprinkled in along the sides and back. "This is a perfect haircut for somebody with stubborn, thick, or curly hair who doesn't want to wrestle with it. It's really good for wash-and-go," says Lospalluto. "Very fine hair might not be able to get the same volume and fullness." The side sweep adds a touch of sex appeal, keeping things flirty. Bonus: "It's also a great cut for fine or thinning hair because of the layering's movement," he says.
Remember Mirren with long hair? Yeah, neither do we. "She took a chance with a layered, tousled haircut, and it looks ten times more youthful," says Lospalluto. Ask for your hair to hit just below your jawline and add a few choppy layers for fullness; round faces should keep layers a little longer. "It's a little daring, but if you have great cheekbones and a great jawline, why not show them off?"
"Sometimes longer is younger," says Lospalluto. Hawn's cut is a great example. Timeless long layers and a little feathering around the cheekbones help blend bangs seamlessly into the sides. "Sixties-style feathered bangs are really flattering if you have a delicate hairline or thin hair, because it gives you a little something to soften the face without a lot of angling." To maintain the loose, soft waves throughout the day, apply Kérastase Mousse Substantive to wet or damp hair before you blow-dry
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If you are in your 50's, our favorite cuts happen to be cuts you'd want at any age (with a few strategic tweaks here and there). We promise, there's not a single matronly style in the bunch. Finally, your sixties doesn't have to mean it's time to settle for "grandmother" hair. (Unless of course your grandmother happens to be Isabella Rossellini).
Check out all of our favorite (and highly recommended) cuts for any age!