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 usually 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. This long hair type 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. I have been a hairstylist for many years, and I often discuss it with clients. Here are my thoughts on the best hairstyles for women over 40 with long hair:
Thick Hair and a Full Face? – Wear Long Hair
If you have thick hair with a natural-looking color and are not too thin on 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.)
I think you need a little fullness to your face to pull off this look successfully because 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. I have seen few exceptions are models or celebrities with access to the best stylists daily. Most of us can’t commit to upkeep a style like this.
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 it should be in a classic shape like a Bob and not past your shoulders to look nice with a bit of length.
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. 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 20s, and nothing is more aging than trying to look young. Keep your hairstyle current and change it 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 40s. Your asymmetrical cut in high school is excellent 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