How To Wear Long Hair After 40!

long hair over 40

Natalie asked How long is Too Long?

Last week I had a question from a reader about long hair which sparked two more readers, Natalie and Pearl, to send in photos for advice.

Here’s Natalie’s letter

Dear Deborah,

I’m thinking about cutting my hair because my face is long and thin to just above my shoulders. What do you think? I just don’t want to be an older person whose hair is too long for her age. 

long hair over 40 brunetteHere’s Pearl’s letter,


Hi Deborah,

I recently joined your site and love it. I am 40 and wear my hair long but my friends think it is time to cut it short. Can you tell me whether short hair will suit me.If so do you have a recommendation for a style. Here is a photo. You are great!!

I asked LA celebrity stylist Billy Lowe to weigh in on this question and here is his advice:
Natalie: While I’m a fan of blonde manes, think Heather Locklear, not Heather Lioness. The color is great on you, but I would add a little dimension so it doesn’t seem over processed. I would also lighten the weight, and add great texture, and bring it up 2-3 inches.  Keep it long, but lighten it up.  Easy on the hot rollers, and just rock it.
Pearl: Move into a rich chocolate color with soft strapping of highlights. Bring it up to barely hit the shoulders and allow the top layers to grow just a bit to release the bulkiness at your ears.  Your top layers seem to be cut too short so it’s creating a blooming effect around your head, and a disconnect with the overall length which is bouncing out at the shoulders.  So you have 2 options.  Grow the layers out, or bring the length up.
Here are more notes from Billy for the rest of us!: I’ve always said hair rules are definitely made to be broken.   The biggest problem with most stylists is that they don’t think outside the box.   For years stylists and beauty experts have focused on face shapes and rules that may apply to them.
While there is some truth and guidelines that hold true, I don’t believe our hair should be defined by our face shapes alone. The biggest opportunity I try to tap into is learning about a client’s lifestyle.  When engaged in a consultation here are my key points:
  1. How much time my client has
  2. What products and tools is she comfortable working with
  3. What her lifestyle is about (career, mother, extracurricular activities, etc)
  4. Will she feel great about her new cut or color

If I can tap into these elements, then she’ll for sure walk away looking and feeling her very best, AND be able to recreate the look at home.   If I give her a cut or style that is too difficult to manage, or one that requires working with a round brush when she’s not comfortable using one, then she will ultimately be disappointed.

Billy Lowe - Celebrity StylistI have MANY clients who are in their 50’s, 60’s and 70’s who have longer than shoulder length hair.   But it’s a matter of creating a style that works for them, their look, and their character.   Mind you, mid-length hair on a 20-year-old and mid-length hair on a 60-year-old says 2 completely different things.

The same thing goes with blue-jeans, or the kind of car you drive.  So take it all into account. YES – you can wear longer hair styles and YES you can be proud doing so.   Just be sure that within that longer cut & style that you have a SHAPE that works well and expresses the real you.

Billy Lowe is an elite talent responsible for creating extraordinary beauty behind the scenes of Hollywood.   Stay tuned for these and other great beauty tips from Hollywood’s own Hot-Head.

Thanks so much Billy! Great advice. I’m thrilled to have you as one of our hair experts!

More From Fabulous After 40

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  1. I would love to go shorter but when I do, I hate the way it looks. Everyone tells me long looks better. But 50 and long I think is bad! I don’t know what to do everyone says it looks good. What to do?

  2. Natalie’s hair in that photo is jaw-dropping gorgeous. There is no chance that a shorter cut could look better. I sure hope her hair is still that long or longer. Wow!

  3. Marquette says:

    Oh yeah, I wanted to add this too:

    None of us are going to run around in mini skirts and midriff-baring shirts, nor are we going to embrace the same wardrobe our teenage daughters wear. Well, not entirely.

    You get ONE SHOT at this life… at least only one that we can remember. ENJOY IT. There is NO reason NOT to have fun with ‘younger’ styles as long as you wear them YOUR way, and not your teenager’s way. If you love your long hair, then keep it. If you LOVE that sparkly, shimmery eyeshadow, WEAR IT.

    Embrace being unique; an INDIVIDUAL. After being a hairsylist for nearly 20 years, I am floored by the number of people who ‘mainstream’ everything in their lives. What for? To ‘blend in’? Again I ask you, what for? If your friends aren’t going to like you or would talk about you and your choice of fun styles in a negative way, they aren’t your friends. Why be concerned with what everyone else thinks? If you are a moral, ethical, law-abiding person then don’t ever let society dictate anything to you.

    Two word mantra: ENJOY LIFE!! Its a gift. USE IT!!

    • Hi Marguette,
      I love your spunk and honesty! I am certainly NOT trying to be the fashion police here but my mission is to have a wonderful supportive community where I can help women who have questions about how to look and feel great! It is fine to dress the way you want to, but many women don’t like the way they dress and want some fresh ideas. That is where we come in!
      So thanks for commenting and feel free to share with me some tips that you use to dress that makes you feel happy! You sure sound like you are!!! Cheers!

  4. Marquette says:

    I’m a hairstylist, I’m 42, and my hair is in the middle of my back. I keep it red underneath, with a good mix of nearly-platnumn blonde/red around the lower sides and under my crown, and mostly just nearly-platnum blonde on the upper sides, crown and top. I have some natural curl/wave in my hair. I have had a few people tell me that now that I’m past 40 I should ‘consider a more mature hairstyle’. You know what I said about that? TRICK THAT!!! Age is a number. As long as you take care of your hair, get regular trims and keep your color up (if you color your hair), then ROCK IT!!

    Never EVER let anyone tell you that once you hit a certian age you have to ‘do’ something ‘more mature’. I still wear shimmer and sparkle in my makeup, and that I can forsee, will till the day I die. If no one likes it, they dont’ have to look at me.

    Remember ALWAYS that its not your age, its how you carry yourself!! Its your personality, and your inner youthfulness that matter. Go tell mainstream to sit on a pricker bush!

    Love, Light and Laughter,
    Marquette in El Reno, Oklahoma

    • Hi Marquette,
      Sounds like you have the confidence that you need to wear your hair in a youthful style. Since you are in the beauty industry, naturally it is important to express your creative sense of style and be yourself!
      I’m sure you are attracting clients that are looking to “spice” up their look and are coming to you for inspiration! Good for you for standing up for being authentic and having the courage not to listen to anyone and enjoying doing your own thing!

  5. I am turning 42 this year and I want a new hairstyle. My hair is to the top of my jeans and i have had it long for many years. I have it in a braid all the time and ideas ??? Thanks

  6. Thank Billy for the tip! and Deb you rock!! Love your site!!

    x Pearl

  7. Richard says:

    Here’s another rule that needs to be broken. A woman doesn’t have to have long hair to look beautiful anymore. Long is nice but with her pretty face she would also look stunning with the new LA short pixie crop.

    • Hi Richard,
      You’re right, a great shorter style is a wonderful solution for those women who want something that is easier to care for, or if you have thinning hair.