Long Hairstyles For Women Over 40… A Do or a Don’t?

pictures of hairstyles for women over 40
Can you wear long hair at any age?

Have you ever heard of a 16/61?  I never did until recently, and it’s not a polite term. It refers to a woman who looks 16 from behind but 61 from in front! Ouch!!

We’ve all seen women our age who look like this, and you have to admit that it uusally has to do with the fact that they’ve held onto their long hair for way too long.

Now, I want to make this clear…I am not saying you shouldn’t wear long hair over 40, some women do suit it, but I believe it is harder to wear long hair as you grow older. It’s easy to fall into the trap of hair that has never changed since college days. This type of long hair can quickly date you and drag down your looks.

I was curious to get a professional opinion on this, so I turned to top hairstylist Chris Maclachlan. Here’s her take on long hair for women over 40.

Chris:  In general, I am not for strict rules regarding fashion or beauty; however, the question, Should women over 40 have long hair?  is a little murkier. Having been a hairstylist for many years, it’s something I often discuss with clients. Here are my thoughts on the best hairstyles for women over 40 with long hair:  

long hairstyles for women over 40
Long hairstyles for women over 40 can work if you have volume in your face.

Thick Hair and a Full Face?  –  Wear Long Hair

If you have thick hair with a natural-looking color and are not too thin in the face, you can wear your hair pretty long. How long? The best hairstyles for women over 40 with long hair fall no further than mid-back, or your hair will look unkempt. (but I think this is true no matter what your age.)

The reason I think you need a little fullness to your face to pull off this look successfully is that long hair will draw the eye down, making your face look longer and thinner.

Although you might think that looking thinner is more desirable, as we age, it isn’t.  A long, narrow, aging face will look tired and worn, and length will also draw attention to fine lines and wrinkles.

Thin Face? –  Keep Hair Short or Shoulder Length

My advice to women over 40 with long hair, be it thick or thin, and who have a narrow face is to:

a) Switch to short hair or

b) Try a shoulder-length style with layers and softness around your face. These two styles will be much more flattering.

And remember, showing a little bit of your ear will draw the eye up, lifting everything and showing off great cheekbones. It’s kind of like having a facelift.

Gray Hair? – Don’t Wear it Long

If you leave your hair un-colored, grey, or white, I would almost certainly keep it shorter.  The few exceptions I have seen are models or celebrities who have access to the best stylists daily.  Most of us can’t commit to the upkeep of a style like this.

The reason for going shorter when you are grey is simple: long grey hair can seem ‘witchy’ and make you look like you are making no effort and don’t care. Don’t get me wrong: I love grey hair, but I think that for it to look nice with a bit of length, it should be in a classic shape like a Bob and not past your shoulders.

gray pixie cut
Short grey hair is youthful.

Gray Hair looks excellent in a Pixie

I’m a big fan of shorter grey hair, especially a pixie cut, which automatically makes you look cute and youthful.  Make sure you go to a very experienced stylist for this look, though.  Shorter styles are by far the hardest to get right.

Look Modern – Don’t Keep or Return to an Old Hairstyle

Lastly, one of the biggest dangers to long hair as you age is that it can look like you haven’t changed it since your 20’s, and nothing is more aging than trying to look young.  Keep your hairstyle current and change it up regularly so you don’t look dated.

Also, be very wary about ever re-doing a trend from your youth.  The current resurgence of styles from the ’80s is a danger for us in our 40’s. The asymmetrical cut you had in high school is cool again, but not for us.  Keep it current, but not crazy trendy.

We all know that women get better and wiser with age, so think about that if you are tempted by a look that you have already done.  A friend of mine was wearing a t-shirt today that said, “Don’t look back; you aren’t going that way.”  If you are ever in doubt about your look, remember that saying, and you won’t go wrong!

Some excellent points, Christine.  Thanks!

Check out these readers who have been wondering whether to cut their long hair and see what you think.

Tags: Long hairstyles for women over 40, hairstylist, fashion expert

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147 thoughts on “Long Hairstyles For Women Over 40… A Do or a Don’t?

  1. I wish I could wear long hair but even when I was young it didn’t look that good on me. I have friends that have always had long hair and they are older and still look great in long hair. My one friend is 56 and she rocks long hair and looks sexy as hell. Everybody is different

    1. Hi Linda, Funny thing is they are all probably saying they wish they could wear their hair short! I don’t think long hair is any better or more youthful than short hair. It’s what suits you best that will make you glow. It sounds like maybe you just need a new hairdresser?

  2. I like how you said that changing our hairstyle regularly will keep our look from becoming “dated.” I want to use my tax return this year to change up my wardrobe to help me feel more modern and confident. Your article made me excited to find a local hair salon and change up that part of my style as well, so thanks for sharing!

  3. Women over 50 rarely look good with long hair that has no style. They look like 20 yr old wannabees. Be confident in your wisdom, experience and style! A great haircut is such an asset and a positive image builder. Long hair pulls the face down and diminishes your power because you are dependent on long hair to have allure. I think the women newscasters look very unprofessional with all that hair hanging down.

  4. I wish people would mind their own flippin business. It’s my hair, my head, so I’ll wear it any way I like. I’m 66 this year and I’m reading all this stuff long hair makes you look old nonsense. Well, who cares? I’ve got some news. We’re all gonna get old anyway, so why shouldn’t we enjoy the ride?

    1. That’s true but you read the article yourself and you made the comment yourself they were just pointing out some tips to help the rest of us. Also I bet you only wear your hair down when you are sleeping am I correct? When we get older the ends of our hair start to look really thin if our hair is past our shoulders believe me no one cares what you do with your hair it’s your own business we’re just telling you what will look better I’m sure you have beautiful hair but I bet it’s very thin. I’m sorry if I offended you I’m not trying to be rude or ugly and anyway I was just answering your question you have a wonderful day

  5. Grey hair looks “witchy?” Get with it. Seriously. I’m 38 and turned grey when I was 25. I’ve also had my hair pixie-short from the time I was 12 until I was about 32. I’ve never received so many compliments and questions about who my stylist is until it was grey and down to my waist.

  6. I am 30, and the other day I was in the vitamin aisle of a grocery store when an older woman with thick, waist length silver hair came swishing by me, her long locks waving from side to side. She grabbed a bottle of biotin and says to me “This stuff is amazing for your hair”. Then she swished away, her long hair trailing behind her. I swear I almost bought the biotin right then and there. Who says long grey hair can’t look incredible?

  7. Ok, chiming in from a guy… I’m the 48 year old husband of my 51 year old wife. It is true, 99% of guys love long hair. It is also true that short hair on ladies over 40 makes them look 10-20 years older and is NOT attractive to a guy- the shorter it is the less attractive you are to men. Like it or not. The best comment here was that short hair on a 50 year old woman just makes them look like their 55 year old husband. Truth. I would also agree with the comments that it is all about keeping it in some sort of style. Long hair nearly always rocks when it has a style. whether you are 40, 50, or 60, if your LONG hair has an actual style and you’ve taken the time to keep it looking like you care about how it looks you WILL look awesome. If, on the other hand, you just leave it plain, unstyled, flat, dull, boring and long with no style, you will look like a crazy old farmer lady (as my wife says)… I think this is the best advice. Over 40, it will look awesome (even HOT) long, sometimes even very long, so long as you have it maintained in some kind of deliberate style and take the time to maintain that style. There you go ladies. True feedback from a over 40 guy. PS: Do NOT listen to ANY style advice from any female under 25. Such advice about as reliable as asking a 5 year old boy what it means to be a man.

    1. As a woman who is looking to attract the fairer sex, I am definitely not concerned with what men find attractive. Guess I’m one of the lucky ones who can wear her hair the way she chooses without worrying about it. That said, the idea of a guide for hair as a person ages is odd. I have always worn my hair long and styled, probably always will even after it turns silver on me.

    2. Funny Mike, I am a petite woman with short hair and I am 63. I look 20 years younger I get hit on by men younger than me all the time so you’re nuts!!

      1. Yes well, I assure you that being petite helps. In all my experience since I was 35 yrs old, weight ages most women.

      1. I’ve never understood the obsession with whatever is the correct hair length of the day. Find something you like and spend less time worrying about others.

    3. I totally agree with you Mike… My husband does too. We are in our early 60s and I would never go short .. we never understood why many do. Long is so much better if well kept with a fuller face with big eyes.. that’s me!

  8. I’m 46 and have long graying hair. I believe that as long as a person does what they can to make themselves feel lovely then the rules do not apply. Long, short, colored, gray, hair can be beautiful or a train wreck depending on the amount of care that is given to it. Hang the rules.

  9. Seriously?? I turned 40 this year. My hair is long and thick, and everybody is telling me I don’t look older than 27. We need to stop being judgmental and apply labels such as “after a certain age, it doesn’t look good” ….wow…

    1. Exactly. I’m 44, have hair that’s gradually passing my hips, and it sometimes get looks from dudes in their; TWENTIES (not that my style has anything to do with attracting them–it just gets attention on its own). I have no plans to go shorter. I don’t know about this hair-thins-after-40 business because I still have more than I know what to do with! OK, I actually do know what to do with it. I have a zillion hairdo options.

  10. I have to disagree entirely with the article. Short hair makes women look older. We don’t need help with that. Long hair can be both stylish and age appropriate so long as it is actually styled and done. Don’t cut your hair because of this article.

  11. Great advice, and in the end, you need to be happy so wear your hair the way you like. Having said that, I have to agree that long hair really doesn’t suit older women. And long hair down to your waste?. So dated. Shorter hair definitely looks better on someone with a narrow face.

    And ladies, don’t listen to your husbands regarding your hair! All men like long hair no matter what.

  12. Noone said women don’t have the right to wear their hair how they like. The article is recommending styles that can flatter or detract from a woman’s looks. You have the right to wear a sack and go bra-less too. It’s about how you want to appear – looking your best? or looking like you don’t give a **** how others think you look. Up to you, entirely.
    Oh, and if you don’t give a **** about a stylist’s advice – why, exactly, are you reading this article?

    1. Yep, that’s me – a rebel all my life and getting more so as I get older. I don’t give a flying fig what others think about my hair choice.

  13. A lot of these comments read like women are still trying to one-up each other. ” My hair is down to my butt and I still look great!” And always some snide comments about short hair, I.e. “It makes you look old!” Basically it seems that many of us are still at the junior high stage, competing for attention and compliments. Why not just live and let live? Wear your hair however you want! Just realize one size doesn’t fit all.

  14. Um, Ya. Turning the big 4-0 next year. I have thick hair, no grey whatsoever, and I’m keeping it long.

    1. My hair and full as well ,although I have greys I make sure I touch up with a color that fits my natural color hair….I love my long hair to and I’m with you I am keeping mine

    2. Good for You! I think the benchmark should be finding a style that suits your features, not an arbitrary age Rule!

  15. I’ve had short hair my entire life but was interested in what Chris Maclachlan said. I appreciated what you said about gray hair. Whenever I see an older woman with gray hair I want to suggest she cut it — but of course, I don’t. Each to their own, right?

    1. I’ve seen women with long gray hair who look beautiful! People have the right to wear their hair the way they want.

  16. It is sometimes hard enough coming to terms with getting old, but society and these sort of articles telling us how we should look and feel makes it all the more difficult. Do what you want to do to with hair etc – nobody has the right to stipulate how another’s hair is worn, for goodness sake. I am so over it all.

  17. It’s nice to read about so many older women wearing their hair long I started wearing my hair long this year after years of wearing it shorter and realizing I don’t look Good in short hair . I am 54 and I have very healthy hair, some gray, but I do color the gray with a semi permanent hair color which makes the grays look likechighlights. My hair is medium brown very little grey, and it thick. I usually wear pulled back, away from face, with it hanging down in back. I get lots of complements for my hair. I dont understand why or who started this idea that older women should chop off their hair. For centuries, esp in the 1800s women had long hair. I believe you just need to wear your hair the way it looks good on you. Some women look better in short hair, and other women look better in long hair. I happen to look better in long hair, or at least past my shoulders, and its probably because I do have a fuller, more round face. The day I decide to cut it shorter will be because I am just tired of having long hair but I find long hair alot easier to maintain than a short haircut wbich needs daily styling and expensive salon visits every 2 or 3 months. With long hair, I can put it up away from my face, or where it a dozen different ways. And I dont buy that 16/60 notion, unless you are also trying to dress like a 16 yr old which I don’t.

    1. I totally agree, I am 43 and my hair goes down to my waist, and I am 5’11, I have had long hair my entire life, yes I still wear the 80’s style as well lol, the feathers on the side( go to a hairdresser today and say feathers and they all layer it! So I cut my own, ) but to me that is who I am, I told my husband the other day I was thinking about cutting my hair shorter and he said “why? It’s beautiful and you will regret it and it will take forever to grow back” so I’m not letting anyone dictate my hair to my age, I WOULD regret it, so now just looking to add a curly perm to it. That’s just me?

  18. No woman over 40 looks good with hair down to their backside. Your husbands may say they like it but please believe me it is too long. That being said , longish hair with layers that is cut by an expert can look fantastic. The biggest complaint I have ( I am 54) is that older women don’t condition their hair enough. As we age our hair gets very dry especially when it is grey. Three women in America look good in a pixie so I think that is a horrible idea. There are certain things that do look better on an older woman. I find dark color clothing , especially black is too harsh. Soft scarfs are wonderful, the colors grey, Ivory , lilac and peach are gorgeous. Lastly, there is something to be said for just making an effort to look nice , not younger , just stylish and happy to be alive. Oh yes, and my pet peeve : those short pants that hit mid calf they should be illegal.

    1. I would have to disagree with you for the most part, been married for 25 years & I am 43, with hair down to my bum and 5’11, my husband is not one to mince words so believe me if he didn’t like it he would tell me, I also have good genes so still get carded for everything, I agree with you should take care of it and not look like a matted mess lol, I condition mine regularly and plan on getting a curly perm to add style, I also wear black on a daily basis, that is my favorite color, most people who see me regularly always tell me I wear the cutest outfits and always look nice, so have to disagree with you on the black clothing statement as well,I would never wear a scarf as in my opinion that makes you look older, so it’s all in opinions?

    2. You can’t put an age on how old someone can carry off a certain look. Yes, some women don’t look good at all with long hair after 40, but other’s do – esp if they look younger then their age due to genetics, and can get away with wearing their hair longer than most women can. I have always looked younger than my age, as do my parents, and my sister. My hair is very healthy, I constantly have people tell me my hair is beautiful. It’s soft and silky; and not grey because I color the little bit I have, I often see older women with shoulder length hair, and instead of dying it they blend blond highlights with the gray. The highlights help add some shine to otherwise dull, grey hair. But it looks best with hair that is not below shoulders, and it needs to be at least slightly layered. I’ll probably want to do that once I get have too much gray to dye. 50% gray hair is hard to color; their just isn’t enough pigment at all to hold any dye in the hair.

      1. Its not important if you or anyone else likes the long hair it only matters if the person with the longhair likes it

    3. I agree with you on those silly capris, seriously pick a length, but felt the need to point out that color rules based on age don’t work any better than hair length rules. I am a very fair, blue eyed red head and colors like grey, peach, lilac and ivory make me look like I died months ago and didn’t get the word. On the rare occasions I have worn those colors people, including strangers, have asked if I feel ok.

      1. Lol! So glad to read your comment after reading the “color” comment. I wear black nearly every single day myself. I’m a blue eyed blonde who’s hair has been turning white since I was 20 and I’m 43 now. I look rather striking in black and would NEVER wear peach or lilac for sure because that reminds me of my 80 some year old Nana. Maybe when I’m 80 I will wear those colors. Who knows. But never now!

    4. Yes but as he’s my husband id more likely take his opinion as hes the one i like to please he loves my long hair which is neither thick or thin but just the way we like it

    5. I wouldn’t be caught dead in lilac and peach. Not only are they awful on me with my coloring, they are such stereotypical and outdated “old lady” colors! Every grandmother in my neighborhood wore those colors to church on Sunday, along with their permed hair and face powder. Can’t go there!! Blanket statements about what looks good on someone based solely on age are also outdated. Everyone has to find their colors, hair style, clothing style – whatever they are comfortable with, not what anyone says we should or shouldn’t do based on age.

      1. I’m 66 and my hair is mid-back length and growing, and I’ll wear whatever flippin colour I like including on my hair. It gets hot where I live so I’ll wear capris too.

  19. I am 43 years old I have have a really young looking face, so long hair looks good on me. I never liked me with short hair, Everyone seems to like me better with long hair, and I agree.

  20. Some people don’t know the words free will and choice. It’s what we have as human beings and it’s our hair, so we can wear it how we want.

  21. I’d just like to point out that I never met a man who liked a pixie (aka old lady hair), wouldn’t choose healthy gray over a dye job, or didn’t hate it when his wife got the dread “middle age bob”.
    Just sayin’…

    1. I completely agree! I’m about to turn 56 and finally got it through my head that short hair is not my friend. I quit dying my hair, it’s a light red color (not orangey red), I don’t have a long, thin face, and my hair is thick, wavy, and down to my hips. Once the shorter parts get to my hips, I’ll cut it and most likely keep it at my hips. It’s the longest it’s been since high school and I love it…so does my partner, Greg. I will NEVER have the old lady bob. People think it’s easier to have short hair, but you have to get it cut all the time to keep it up. I wash and go. I can pull it up, back… It’s never been easier!

      1. My greatmother still had long hair when she was 92. And yes she was still alive when I was 18. She was full blooded Najavo; she wasn’t cutting her hair off for anyone. And I agree, the times I cut my hair short, I definitely heard the disappointment from the men in my life from my boyfriends then husband (even if they tried to be nice about it, I knew they hated that I cut off my long locks). So, sorry pixie chicks- truth is men do NOT prefer short hair.

    2. I agree. Just got my first Bob and it is only hairstyle in 25 Years of marriage my husband has ever said he doesn’t like. I am 50 and felt I should look more my age. Im growing it out. It’s not me.

  22. I find the 16/60 analogy very rude and typical of our culture’s narrow perspective about aging. I could almost hear the 20ish-i’m-all-that-don’t-you-forget-it-crowd whispering behind the backs of older women…”like ya, like you look younger from the back but… O-M-G…look what happened when you turned around!” I suppose we are also to look old from the back as not to shock anyone! Newsflash ‘youngins, you haven’t cornered the market and what is truly ‘beautiful’, thank you very much!

  23. I’m past 60 and began going gray at 9 (nine) years old. Through the years I have worn my hair from a few inches past the shoulder to a pixie cut and enjoyed it all. However, as women age, the harmones change and not for the better, I might add. Although some may think that wearing long gray hair makes a person look witchy, personally, I find short hair makes most 50 year old women begin to resemble their 55 year old husbands. I keep mine long, because it makes me feel more feminine. It’s more of a shiny silver than gray, so I tell people it is my version of platinum blond. I wear it up in a messy bun when I leave the house…it works for me.

    1. I totally agree with you. Longer hair is much more feminine no matter what your age, and looks really nice pulled up. I will never cut my hair shorter than shoulder length.

  24. The truth is… society wants to be able to immediately make a distinction between younger women and middle-aged women. We want to “mark” our over-35 women as no longer a part of the sexual marketplace. Long hair is not “owned” by the young. This concept of ridiculing middle-aged and older women with long hair as “ridiculous” is a made-up way to keep women in their place. Almost all men like longer hair on a woman. Only a small minority of men like short hair on a woman. When a woman gets a short haircut, she gets compliments from… women friends. Of course she does… the other females compliment the short haircut as a sigh of relief for having one less competitor.

    1. right on Sherry couldn’t have said it better,i am 61 have very long almost waist length and planning to keep it.Its in very good condition and is looked after well why should I get it cut my hubby likes it and I love it that’s all that matters ,besides i’ve seen some very bad looking hair on younger people so why are we at our age told ours is straggly and messy.

    trust me a GOOD stylist will suggest to you when it time!!

    1. I dont give a hoot what stylists say i never go to them my hubby or sister gives me a trim every few months ive had to many bad experiences with stylists that ignore what uwant and cut too much

  26. Why is everyone so terrified of getting older,i have a surprise for u its gonna happen so get a grip Me and my long hair realy dont care, We are the way we are and not planning to change for anyone

  27. Jeeze…I’m 44 and my hair is mid back (dark brown) with subtle layering around my face. I’ve never had anyone tell me I NEED to cut my hair off. Also, I’m not planning on cutting it. I also don’t look at other women and think they need to follow the status quo by following a rule when they hit a certain age.

  28. Wow. Witchy? I think it may be time to create a new aesthetic for aging beautifully! I love my big bossy silver mane, and I’m hoping that I can get it even bigger before I turn 60. I know these are only the opinions of one person, but I do feel a little like I’m expected to adhere to a particular standard of beauty set by people that know nothing about me. At the end of the day, I think I’ve earned the right to present myself as I see myself. If I have to suffer the “witchy” consequences, so be it.

    1. Thank you, I was thinking the same thing monniej! As we get older we have to defend our choices more and more? Why? I’m in my early 40’s and my hair is 75% grey. I stopped coloring it for a year and let it grow out completely natural and wow, the world responded to me so negatively!! I *felt* witchy!

  29. Wait a minute here…when did we let others decide what makes us feel beautiful?
    Quote: “The reason for going shorter when you are grey is simple: long grey hair can seem really ‘witchy’ and make you look like you are making no effort and simply don’t care.”

    DO YOU HAVE any idea how much time and effort it takes to brush, wash, condition, oil, etc. long hair? A french twist with a ponytail looks unkempt? If I leave my hair down (It’s almost long enough to sit on) others assume I don’t care? I think that is such a crock.

    My plan in life has been to be an old lady with a big bun of grey hair, I love how that looks, and so far I’m hitting my goal at 42, it’s just going grey but looks fabulous.

    Funny, no one pulled me aside and said to look like a proper woman I had to cut off all my hair and have a pixie cut. I had very short hair for 20 years in just about every cut I can imagine, the upkeep on that was much worse than my long hair. Besides, it keeps me warm in the winter…no scarf needed!

    I don’t dress nor act 16, so why would anyone look at me and think “Oh, that extra 25 inches of hair is her trying to look like a teen”…that makes zero visual or factual sense.

    Believe what you want, wear what you want and enjoy your hair. However it is that makes YOU feel comfortable.

  30. A “frozen shoulder” made me give up styling for six months: too painful. I washed conditioned and as it grew went from simple low ponytail to a braid over one shoulder. My hair is dark brown with a bit of grey at the top, straight, no dye. Low and behold, I find my easy non-style has become fashionable, lol. I’m 63. I have been told by strangers that my hair is lovely. I think I’ll keep it awhile.
    A long face does not get less long with shorter hair, but a smile shortens it a bit so wear a style that makes you smile more. Why “frame your face” when your face is wrinkled and has some sags? Wear it like you like it ladies. Don’t fall for hype. 16/60: his problem, not mine.

  31. I’m in my forties and have no desire to look 16. I also have no desire to look 60 (no offense to anyone of these two ages; I just believe in looking the “age you are”). So what I do, is simply wear my hair a little shorter in the front to frame my face (I never had a really full face – not even when I was younger) and then wear the rest of my hair longer so it still has a fun feminine feel. I believe it’s the best of both worlds (hair-wise)!

  32. I’m almost 62. My hair is long, wavy and Healthy… It’s me! I don’t give in to what society thinks I Should do with my hair….,again, My Hair! I just keep it trimmed and layered. I get many compliments from women and men. No gray hair yet….

  33. I am 41 and still have long hair but I have the fuller face and can get away with it. In relation to the 16/60 comment, I would rather look 16 from one angle than 60 from all angles!

  34. There are so many things wrong with this article. 16/60 – not complimentary! I see 60 year olds every day that look beautiful and more lively than a spotty 16 year old. The rest of the article is rubbish too. Long grey hair is fabulous.

  35. Oh my goodness ladies I make you all look so good. It sounds like I have committed every sin in the hair and age bible. I have been around the sun 66 times going on 67 this coming summer. I have not only long hair but I have fine hair and it is white to boot! Short hair on this gal is equivalent to cocoanut hair on a balloon. With my hair having length I am able to whip it up into a French roll, a simple bun or rolled cluster curls, with flowers yes I do love flowers in my hair. I can hear the gasps. LOL Keeping my length actually gives my hair the body that I lack. Now the most important aspect of this stylishness is it makes me feel marvelous darlings. What gave me a bit of a giggle while reading some of the comments were the ones that say something like: “I could care less how you wear your hair but, If you’re over such and such age rhubarb rhubarb, rhubarb. So happy to see that you care so much or was that a judgement call? None the less no harm no foul, I shall just keep on, keeping on loving you all.

  36. I have naturally curly hair that is very thick. I dye it a medium brown with blonde highlights, its a little past my bra in the back. I have been thinking about getting bangs as almost all of my hair is the same length and I feel I am too old to wear it this way. I am 49 and after a shower everything I comb through already has rats in it again my gosh this can take hours just trying to get the rats out and I wonder is shorter hair although yes it is some work as well, it take me three hours to straighten and curl my hair? Short hair couldn’t possibly take that long to care for. I will try trimming four inches and having it conditioned more often and maybe layered just to start so it’s not so shocking to go short. I came to your site because I don’t have any friends to ask and I don’t know what to do. I do like that I can do a ponytail and it really does pull some wrinkles out but not enough. I thought that bangs would hide the forehead wrinkles that make me feel so much older. I don’t try but I am a muscular person, not manly looking I mean I look like I work out all over everyday so I do look like a guy from behind and I am sure people are shocked when they see my face. I don’t like that either. I just need some ideas please from some woman who are not being hateful, but that want to help someone who truly needs their help, and no insults.

  37. By the way, I visited two doctors recently (specialists) — both women, who had hair down to their knees! Both wore their hair pulled back in a long ponytail that dangled past the hems of their white coats. It really turned me off. For a doctor, I think it’s inappropriate. It just looks sloppy and dirty. I don’t want to come out of that office pulling four-foot-long hairs off of my clothes. If you work closely with other people or food, your hair should be short or very tidy.

  38. Whether or not you wear your hair long isn’t as important as keeping it neat and clean. Like lots of women of the ’60s and ’70s, I had waist-length hair as a teen and in my early 20s. I also lived in a hot climate, and perspiration made my hair so oily I had to wash it twice a day. Most of the time I kept it pinned up or held back with combs. When I entered the workforce, I stared cutting my hair shorter. Not only was it easier to take care of, it also looked more professional. Women should have the hairstyle THEY want — not what someone else tells them they should have. But it’s nice if the style is practical as well as attractive, and adds rather than detracts from your looks. I’ve seen women who refuse to cut their hair because they say, “My husband likes it long,” or they don’t want to bother with a new style. There’s nothing worse than a 60-year-old woman with waist-length hair who imagines she still looks like she did when she was 18.

  39. Honestly, I think older women with long hair look ridiculous if it is really long. Like grow up and accept that you are older. I don’t get why people are so attached to long hair. I had waist length hair for years. I am 45. I got a pixie cut and I absolutely love it. I would never go back to long. To each his own but once you hit 40 your hair shouldn’t be longer than a couple inches past your shoulders. It’s like you can’t accept that you are older.

    1. So I guess it’s not REALLY to each her own, then! Long hair has nothing to do with aging, the entire debate is silly. There are preconceived notions of how a woman should look or act at certain ages, and most of the women here seem to be saying that they don’t buy into that. Hair is personal and individual, having it long doesn’t mean a woman has a fantasy of looking as she did at 18 – I think we all know what we look like – but it is an individual choice.

    2. And for the same reason you want short hair its your choice dont u think older women have a right to their choice of long hair for no other reason but we like it and want it and dont care if we r getting older its our right to do as we please

    3. I feel the need to voice my reply to your comments on long hair on older women.I’ve had long & short hairstyles in my lifetime & trust me it has nothing to do with needing to “grow up” as you put it.
      I am aware of my age, 51 now, & dress with complete awareness that I can’t get away with what I wore hair / clothes when I was younger. ( I have highlighted mid length thick hair in good condition ) short hair suited me 20’s age but not sure it would now. I feel more feminine nothing to do with not being able to accept I’m getting older. I don’t plait it or wear pigtails, that is a no no for me. I just keep it in good condition. When my daughter says “mum it’s time for a shorter style” then I will know, as she is always totally honest with me.

  40. I’m 59 and have had many different styles and colors over the years. Right now my hair is rather long. I also have tons of it! My hair grows very quickly, so I need a trim all the time. While I know I’m lucky to have a good head of hair and I do love the long hair, I need suggestions. I usually have bangs and layers. But, those who have cut it before made it look like some king of “70’s shag. EWW. I love the layers because my hair is so heavy, but I don’t need to look like a “70’s throw-back! Thanks!

  41. I’m nearly 58. I dye my hair at home and keep it waist length. I NEVER leave the house unless it is in a bun (hairstick), and I have side-swept bangs. I’ve been considering getting a “professional” haircut for the past 37 years. Yeah, probably never gonna happen. ;)

    1. Of course, this is all opinion. Some of these comments sound an awful lot like too much protesting, though. Frankly, most women now seem to have a similar long haircut. It seems unimaginative to me. No one is going to tell you that your hair doesn’t look great unless they’re very rude. It doesn’t mean they’re not thinking it. I’m 58 and have had many lengths of hair in my life. In high school, it was to my waist and took an enormous amount of time to wash and many hours to air dry. Once I had a husband, job and kids there just was not time for that, so it was either short or a little past my shoulders at most. I have fine hair, but lots of it. Hello tangles! I wear it in a one length bob now for lack of better ideas. Color is brown with lighter highlights (with age the color got so mousy looking, but I don’t want the commitment of time and money for all over color). If I let it grow out, it gets overwhelming in terms of tangles and bulk. Still takes forever to dry, and the amount of natural wave it has is just enough to stick out in random spots if I don’t blow dry. Sigh..

  42. I think it’s up to each individual to decide how to wear their hair. Everybody is not looking for youthfulness and are just fine with aging.

  43. I am 53 I cut my hair short a couple years ago. It was quite high maintenance keeping it in style. I find now that I have grown it again much easier and versatile. I wear loosely up during day, so feel it does not drag my face down. Its up to each person really.

  44. “…they’ve held onto their long hair for way too long”…. is nothing more than the opinion of the person who wrote the article and the inividuals who agree with her.

    I am a 61-year old woman who decided at 36 (feeling somewhat like a dinosaur) to crack under the pressure from other people, and I cut off waist-length hair. I’ve spent the last 25 years growing it back. Never, ever again will I chop my hair, in spite of criticism (“Why do you want your hair that long? You’d look so much better with it shorter.”), derision (being nicknamed “hippie”…a fashion trend I missed because I was a pre-teen during the hippie revolution), and other unpleasant insinuations (“Are you trying to look 19?”). Nope.

    15 years ago, I was getting something out of the back seat of my car. A passing car stopped and the driver said, “Hey, Baby!” , and when I turned to see if I knew him, he yelled, “OMG! SHE’S OLD!” and sped off. I was all of 46, and my hair was half the length it is now. I did not go in the house and cut off my hair. I shared a good laugh with my 21-year old son, who’s hair was almost as long as mine.

    Long hair isn’t for everyone, but it is for me. When I speak with a woman or girl with long hair who is thinking about cutting it all off, I advise them to try a short wig before chopping off their hair. Not everyone is traumatized emotionally by cutting off long hair, but some of us are, and we don’t know we will be until it’s too late. For $50, a person can get a decent wig and try out a style before making a decision that will take years to reverse.

    I care that I look old, but I am old. Do I wish I looked 20 again? Absolutely. However, cutting off my hair will only serve to conform me to society’s standards for older woman…short hair after age 35. Tell me how that’s an improvement…and why I should regard anyone’s opinion above my own when it comes to my personal appearance.

    I’m “right there” with Lynda and Oslo. I came to this site to find suggestions to find long hair at age 60 style suggestions and I am told to cut it. Disappointing.

    1. I totally agree with you! I’m over 50 and choose to wear my hair its natural grey and I was advised to cut it short. It looked cute to me for a few days and then I wanted my ponytail back. Short grey hair makes me look older than long grey hair, except with a bang which I find annoying. Fancy hairstyles are not for everyone. In fact most only look good in mirrors and photos or with holding gels and sprays. A few minutes after one steps outside, they are gone with the wind or whatever climatic conditions obtain. A ponytail or bun is low maintenance and it pulls the wrinkles back! LOL

    2. Lil. I want to tell you a true story. I was shopping one day and was passing though the hat section and saw a woman from behind. It was 15 degrees outside and she was wearing a short mini-skirt and go go boots. She had long blonde hair down to her waist. I wanted to get a look at her face because I wanted to see who this crazy person was… venturing out in the cold in a mini skirt. As she turned to look at me I literately let out a mini shriek and jumped back. It was not to offend her, I was truly shocked! She was very thin, her eyes sunk back in her head, her skin was sagging off her face and she was plastered with wrinkles that she tried to hide with a bucket of makeup! This was a woman clearly in denial. Please don’t be that woman… embrace your maturity. Unless you are 60 and look 30! If you must keep it long, try wearing it up in a messy bun when you go out.

      I had long beautiful hair most of my life… I am almost 50 now. It is still down to my mid back but I am dying to get it cut. Everyone who knows me keeps talking me out of it. So I wear it up on my head in a messy bun and it only comes down when I go to bed at night… I just think the long hair drags my face down.. and if it up all the time… why not cut it??!! Pixie cut here I come! Good luck Lil… just think about what I said.

      1. Why do people always assume when your 60 you will look haggard and have very wrinkly skin as long as you’ve looked after yourself and stayed out of sun and used sun block this wont happen look at Sophia Loren at 80 she looks fantastic. We have the right to wear our hair any which way we like and at an age we don’t have to listen to so called know it alls about what we should do when we get to a certain age.

  45. I’m 45 years old with red/brown hair turning gray and going from fine, thick and wavy to coarse, thick and curly. I’ve worn long hair for about 15 years or so and totally don’t see why anyone would really care one way or another about how long or short it is. It’s a matter of how I feel and think about it. If I feel feminine and sexy with my natural hair being long then I say that’s cool. If I decide it makes me look old and like my crazy great aunt the family never talks about then I’ll feel comfortable doing something else with it. Short hair isn’t cute on everyone. I think it makes most women look as if they’re trying to pass as men to get equal pay and benefits but that’s just me.

  46. This is a good article, I’m still undecided on how long to have my hair I was thinking shorter but then I have been told I will look older than I already am! I have been looking at the ones on and I think I like them but I am just not sure? any suggestions?

  47. It really is a matter of to each his own. All these styles may look great on Photoshopped pictures with 10ounces of makeup caked on but try them on freshfaced after a sleepless night. 80 percent of the time the style only looks good in the hair and does NOTHING to flatter the face. Also most of them are held in place by tons of goop. Is there anything more awful than bangs in Summertime? I am fully grey, cute-faced, never wear makeup, and did an almost buzz cut with a little extra on top which I used for side-sweep, full bang or curls on top. It took too much time to make that hair look good. I need enough hair for a ponytail. That always is my cutest look and it pulls back the wrinkles. I am allergic to holding sprays and goop. I feel like I can’t breathe when they are in my hair for two minutes. Leave-in conditioners make grey hair look yellowish and dirty. I agree that grey hair fits better with makeup, DEFINITELY but try looking at those faces with those too cute styles after a long day! Like I said sometimes the style only looks good IN THE HAIR.

  48. I must say, I agree with this article to an extent, but it really is an individual thing. I thought my long hair looked good on me, but ,my 21-year-old daughter told me the other day she’s glad I cut my hair (it’s shoulder-length now) because the long hair was making me look really old. I’m only 41, and I have the “ideal” hair and face mentioned in the article to be able to have it long, but it just doesn’t suit me long. I’ve seen women older than me though, even some with thinner, longer faces who can still pull off long, wavy, almost bohemian style hair. It really is individual. My advice is ask a teen/20-something you know and whose opinion you trust how you REALLY look in long hair.

    1. Are you kidding? At 41? Sometimes daughters do not appteciate the fact that their moms still look HOT! You should have asked a few guys, and you’d have received totally different advice!

      1. exactly ,you don’t ask anyone under 25 ,they are clueless about style for the over 40s they don’t want any competition.Course they are going to tell u to cut,wait till they get to 40 it will be a whole different story

  49. Im 60 and I really don’t give a rats what others think My hair is long and ombre coloured, light on top dark underneath my head my hair others don’t get a vote.

  50. Sorry I generally don’t like long hair on older women. No matter how good you think it looks it ages just like the rest, maybe more so. Now with that being said you have to be comfortable in your own skin but it’s not very attractive on most women over 40 past shoulder length ; especially those straight styles that seem to hang in straggles. If your hair is not shinny , time to chop it.

    1. Well, im turning 48 this year.I have worn my hair long most of my life, but im sorry ladies. We have to face it, long hair on us, no way. It makes us look ridiculous! A short bob, stacked, hi lighted, beautiful make up, is so much more sexier. Just look at Lisa Renna, even Sandra Bullock wore a bob!

      1. don’t mention bobs to me I hate them had one when I was much younger couldn’t wait till I left home and parental control and grew it long which its been ever since

  51. I couldn’t disagree more with this article.I am 61 with silver streaked thick ,wavy waist hair[ which horrors I wear loose sometimes!]I have learned to cut my hair at home and no longer go to salons due to this kind of thinking by salons and hairstylists..My hubby loves my hair and I get compliments from strangers .I will never look 16 from behind due to it’s colour so that’s not an issue.My silveyr hair sparkles and shines unlike how it looked dyed[brassy and flat] so I will never dye again.It also thickened up tremendously once I stopped dyeing also.Long silver hair makes no money for the salons,regular dye jobs and regular cuts are their bread and butter.Think about that when you see articles such as this..

    1. Long silver streaked hair can be stylish,I have long bangs wavy ,layers and a v cut ,that my hubby did an awesome job cutting ..So it never looks straggly when loose..Why does everyone think all long hair equals straggly especially if longer than mid back?.That is so not correct..

    2. Good for you Dulcy. And I so agree with what you say about salons not making any money from people who don’t dye their hair. I cut my own and on the couple of occasions over the last 15 years or so that I have been to a salon for a cut I have been disappointed. I am 70 and have a layered bob which people say suites me and I’ve had strangers asking me where they can go for a similar cut.
      Having a hair style that you are comfortable with and that suits you is the important thing.

    3. “Your hair is beautiful” is quite different to “you look great with that long hair”.
      When asked for an opinion by an older woman with long hair – I did NOT have the guts to tell her the truth. Her hair was beautiful. But did it suit her? No, it looked ridiculous on her. I heard other’s who were also asked, tell her she had beautiful hair. It’s an honest answer but be careful how you interpret it.

  52. By the way. I’ve never had trouble growing my hair. It’s mid-back a mix of blonde and light brown and I really don’t care what others say. I’m 60 and that gives me the right to tell people to MYOB and get a life.

  53. I personally wore short hair for years and never liked it. I am now 66 and have allowed my grey hair to grow to shoulder length and am much happier with it. I feel short hair styles look dated unless you are able to have a special stylist to style it and you have the ability to keep it looking stylish. See me at I usually wear it up, but ca wear it down without looking out of place if I am so inclined.

  54. Nothing says, “I’m an old hag who has given up on life” more than short hair on an older woman. It is almost never flattering. Trim the ends to keep split ends at bay and that is all the maintenance it needs besides a good shampoo and conditioner.

    1. Wow! I think nothing says “I’m an old hag who has is trying to cling to my youth” more than women with long hair who can’t pull it off. I do think some older women can still pull off longer hair, but not all, it makes most look older. I am 48 years old and when I got my hair cut shorter, everyone said it made me look younger, although people have said I don’t look my age with long hair either. I have seen some women keep their long hair and it looks like all they do is comb it after a wash and leave it, which is not usually attractive, frizzy and blah! Then there is the other spectrum of older women who have long hair and style it like they are doing a photo shoot for Playboy, and look like they are pitifully trying to stay young, but instead of staying young looking, they look 10 to 20 years older than they actually are.

      And, of course, this is just MY opinion. As I said in the beginning, some older women can and do pull it off. And people do what they want regardless.

      1. I agree with all the ladies who don’t care what others think. All these if you’re old it should be short brigade obviously can afford the hair dresser every 4 weeks.
        Mine is long and an absolute mess. But it’s my mess & I love it

  55. Hello, I found your website through Sylvia’s, and wanted look as well. I had to comment on this one, as my ginger red hair is long, mid back, and I love it this way. I would look silly with short hair, just wouldn’t suit my face. I am a believer if it doesn’t bother you with some extra time, and you like the look, why not? There are no rules, as long as it is healthy, and not damaged and straggly.

    1. Jess, great to hear from you. Your long, flaming, red hair is gorgeous! Talk about signature style. I agree that there are some women like yourself who do suit long hair after 40, and even 50 so long as it is really well kept- shiny, good cut and color. Grooming becomes so important as we age. A few layers can also help perk up long hair after 40 for those women who want to keep their hair long but feel it’s looking a little limp. Cheers! Deb

      1. I tink the emphasis on color for older women is unfortunate. Color is expensive, can be damaging to hair, and is just unnecessary. There’s quite a trend now towards natural, gray hair even long, and it’s beautiful. To say that long hair is ok only if kept in perfect condition and colored is limiting and i think judgemental. How dare we look our age, right? Yes, grooming is important but so is ditching some limiting societal expectations. Cut it or don’t, color it or not, but because it’s what makes each person happy and definitely NOT to satisfy someone else’s preconceived notion of what a woman “should” look like at a particular age! We can’t win. Trying too hard. Gave up. Let herself go. Mutton dressed as lamb. Granny. Tart. 16/60. How about we each do what makes us happy and leave judging each other on the side of the road where it belongs.

  56. I never had long hair when I was younger, I had to keep it short. I was too busy with kids to fuss with my hair. I am a natural blond and even now at 51 I still have the same shade of color as I did when I was younger (no I do not color my hair) but growing it out, I have always wondered about styling it what is better. Right now its the longest it ever been. How do you know what is the better style of cut?
    I found your blog on and thought I would stop by. Now I am glad I did. You have a wonderful blog!

  57. I happen to think that long gray hair can be BEAUTIFUL if it is kept trimmed and well cared for. The secret it to not let it get to a length where it looks stringy. Nothing is more aging to women than gaining lots of weight and super short hair that is over the ears and almost shaved in the back. That is like a GRANNY ALERT. I think pixie cuts are usually a disaster on older women. They can occasionally look cute on super pretty, thin, young girls, but overall I think they masculanize women and kill all sex appeal. Yuck!

  58. I just got a chuckle because Jeann Gardner emailed me about this post to say: Hey, if I can look 16 from any angle I’ll take it.
    Look at most any female on TV over 40 and they have long hair; news anchors, Katie Lee Gifford, Jersey Shore women, soap operas, lead actresses, etc. I agree it needs to be current and stylish and well kept though.

  59. I know you mentioned it, but I’ll say it again, if you’re going to wear your hair long, or any length for that matter, don’t stay with the same style you had in high school. period.

    1. Hi Cathy, so true. Long hair can look boring and dated if you don’t throw in a few layers or highlights. You have to stay updated instead of holding onto the past.

    2. I had a long shoulder length bob in high school and hated it couldn’t wait for it to grow To this day I cant stand bobs my older sister originally cut it and I told her if she ever came near me with scissors again id tie her up and do the same to her she knows I would to

  60. I wore my hair (mostly) short through my 20’s, let it grow a bit in my 30’s and went back and forth a bit in my late 30’s and early 40’s. Most recently, it was well past my shoulders and even though I don’t deal with much grey, I am 47 and went back to short about two months ago. I can’t tell you how amazing it felt. I will NEVER go back to long hair and have made myself a promise to make my hair a priority (regular cut and colour). Short hair ROCKS!

  61. How old school can you get? I was so surprised at the old fashion beliefs and anti-aging sentiments in this article. Long grey hair is one of the hippest things going; I’ve read many articles in fashion magazines talking about the trend. I’ve worn mine long for years and I can’t tell you the thousands of compliments I have gotten. Strangers even stop me. Love Fabulous After 40 for challenging and encouraging older women to feel confident about uniquely expressing themselves, but this article was so off the mark.

    1. Hi Evelyn, I think what Chris is saying is that long grey hair takes a lot of maintenance to look good, so for the average woman it doesn’t work. That’s all. I don’t know how much time or money you put into caring for your grey hair or if you are one of the lucky silver foxes out there gifted with naturally beautiful hair, but it sounds like you are doing what is right for you.

      1. I don’t understand why everyone thinks that long (gray or not) hair takes so much time and money to maintain. It’s easy – a good trim once in a while and normal hair care. My friends who have gray hair, long or not, say that it was very liberating to let their hair go gray – much less work than constantly touching up color. Mine is colored now, but only because it isn’t a nice gray yet. When it is, I’ll let it go and give up the six to eight week root touchups!

      2. Maybe it was the “witchy” comment. The underlined tone seems negative to me. As Paula points out, how is any of this advice different from any color hair?

    2. My favorite woman who rocks long gray hair is Emmylou Harris. I think she’s cut it some recently but for a while there she was wearing long, romantic, layered gray hair. It was so pretty! Still is, just more shoulder length now.

  62. I have long (just above the bra strap), blonde, naturally curly hair at 50! I love my long hair and have no plans to cut it because of my age. I suggest, for anyone who wants long hair and has concerns about it looking dated, that you find a very good salon and a younger hairdresser. Mine is in her 20’s, and she keeps my style current. She uses today’s cuts, styling techniques and products which avoids the “haven’t changed my hairstyle since college” look. I can straighten my hair and look very stylish, or leave it natural for convenience. At work I often pin it back from my face. I get trims about every 3 months to keep it looking healthy. I think that the key is to keep it modern.

    If you aren’t sure about your look, have some pictures taken (candids if possible, by a good friend) and look at them honestly. Do you like what you see? or do you wonder who that old woman is?? If you don’t like it, find that good salon and have a conversation about what you want your look to be.

    I hate the 16/60 thing – unless you have a face lift, you’re going to look 60 some day. Are we supposed to look 60 from behind, too? Not sure how to do that… :D

    1. I decided to go gray a few months before School ended this year! I wear my hair in a pixie so haircolor was out in about 3 months.I get compliments Everyday from people of all ages ,male and female! Had i Known It would have this effect,i would Have listened to my husband who suggested I do so five years ago! He thought I would look sexy! I love my gray!

  63. What about long naturally curly hair? That is what hair type I have and I am constantly wondering if I am doing the best I can with it. Currently it is down to my mid-back and I recently had it layered around the face to frame it better. What are your thoughts?

    1. I also have long naturally curly hair…I would actually refer to it as kinky. In the summer, I always wear it up since I live in the south and we all know what humidity can to do very curly hair. I am starting to get some gray hair and turned 40 this past October. It is past my shoulders. I’ve thought about having short hair, but am afraid of the maintainence. I refuse to put straighteners in it because it just makes it look frizzy and unhealthy.

      1. HI Michelle, I say why fight it? If your hair is naturally curly it probably suits you best that way. It’s not worth it to put a straightener in if it’s going to make your hair look stressed.

        1. Long grey hair is beautiful ,as for dying it try natural instincts temporary dyes. They wash out in 28 days. I have found my hair tends to hang on to the dye in the grey and washes out in the not grey, for those of us on our way to grey it is more natural and not harsh on hair. I’m 47 and surely full grey by 57 and sporting waist length curly wild hair and my husband loves it. Sweeping locks of medium curls as my husband says as for salons I save my funding for the nails :)

          1. I just turned 60. I am loving my age and my long hair. I’ve had every style- perms, bobs,pixie, down to my butt. I’ve had every color-blonde platinum, red, auburn dark brown, and now medium brown. Luckily, due to a great gene pool, I have extremely healthy,thick hair. I’m going to keep it long(middle of back). The only thing that is so annoying is that it grows so fast that I have to color it every 3 weeks. I do it myself, but it’s such a pain. In the somewhat near future, I will forgo the dying and go grey, but, I’m keeping the length. When I do go grey I’ll leave it to the professionals because I want it to look as natural a process as it can be. I say be true to yourself and forget the social pressure.

    2. Mine is naturally curly. I love the way long, curly, gray hair looks! Sometimes I do straighten, especially in the winter when dryer air means less spring in my curls. I’ve recently started going to a new hairdresser who is trying to convince me to stop the straightening as it damages the curl structure. I don’t color any more, and have dark blonde with white highlights. Maybe no color and no heat styling will mean healthier, nicer curls. I’m going to try it his way for a while and see what happens.

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