Have you ever hear of a 16/61? I never did until recently, and, believe me, it’s not a polite term. Apparently, 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’ve got to admit that many times it 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 do 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 easily 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 one for strict rules when it comes to 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 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 you are not too thin in the face, then you can wear your hair pretty long. How long? The best hairstyles for women over 40 with long hair are ones that 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 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 and thin, aging face will just look tired and haggard, 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 thin 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 up and showing off great cheekbones. It’s kind of like having a facelift.
Gray Hair? – Don’t Wear it Long
If you are leaving your hair un-colored, and you are 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 on a daily basis. Most of us just 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 really ‘witchy’ and make you look like you are making no effort and simply don’t care. Don’t get me wrong: I love grey hair, but I think that for it to look nice with a little length, it should be in a classic shape like a Bob and not past your shoulders.
Gray Hair looks great in a Pixie
I’m a big fan of the shorter grey hair, especially a pixie cut, which automatically makes you looks 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 80’s 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, just remember that saying and you won’t go wrong!
Some really good 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, hair stylist, fashion expert