I’m really sorry to say it, but when it comes to our body, time takes its toll on just about all of it. And although we know all too well what aging does to our skin, when it comes to other areas of our beauty regimens, age is rarely factored in. From swapping in serums that tackle fine lines and wrinkles to acid treatments that work against age spots and pigmentation, products that cater to aging skin seem to be everywhere.
But what about our hair? It turns out that besides going gray, aging can affect our hair in a number of ways. From thinning to dryness, the ways in which our hair deals with getting older means that as time goes by, we may need to change up our routines. And one of the most effective ways we can do that is by trying out a new haircut.
As hair ages, it’s normal for it to become a little more difficult to style, meaning that it’s often all too appealing to chop it off. As we get older, keeping hair short comes with its benefits. Not only does it keep locks looking healthy, but it also makes increasingly difficult-to-manage strands a lot easier to deal with.
Keep scrolling for all of the expert advice and inspiration that you might need if you’re over 50 and considering going short with your hair.
What happens to the hair as you age?
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As we get older, so does our hair. Over time, the rate at which our body produces melanin (the thing that gives our hair pigment) slows down and eventually may even stop altogether, causing hair to lose its color and appear gray.
Alongside the loss of pigment, gray hairs often appear wiry and dry as a result of diminishing oil production by the sebaceous glands in the hair follicle. Jonathan Soons, creative ambassador at Headmasters, explains: “The aging process changes the texture of hair so that it appears brittle, wiry, and frizzy. Commonly, the longer the hair is, the more this becomes evident.”
To deal with aging hair, Soons recommends switching your products up. “Older hair can be more fragile, so use a gentle brush such as Manta ($36). To help keep gray hair fresh and remove yellow tones, I swear by Revlon Professional Nutri Color Crème in 1002. As well as helping with color, it also acts as a mask to keep hair super moisturized,” says Soons.
Why does this make shorter styles more popular?
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As older hair becomes gradually more difficult to deal with, many women feel that going shorter helps to minimize the upkeep. Valerie Maine, a hairstylist at Live True for Redken, reveals: “Short hair gives a feeling of a more youthful look. As you get older, your hair will sometimes thin and become weaker. Shorter hair is often easier to style and can fit in better with a busier lifestyle.”
Besides the fact that keeping hair short minimizes the appearance of age-induced damage that might be more evident with longer styles, going for the chop can also help disguise the side effects. “Short hair will often give the illusion of fuller and thicker hair and will disguise this,” says Maine.
Things to consider…
As with any hair change, it’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into for before you go ahead. Of course, going short comes with the usual considerations such as whether or not your cut of choice will work with your texture and thickness. However, when it comes to going short, there are other things to consider too.
As a rule, short hair tends to have to be styled more frequently than longer hair, and the general need for upkeep tends to be greater. When it comes to a short look that needs constant styling, it’s more important than ever to take the texture of your hair into account. “Consider the natural texture of your hair—if it is coarse, fine, straight, curly, etc. If you go for a style that ignores this, it will cause styling issues. Use your new short haircut to put emphasis on your favorite feature and showcase the areas you like the most. It could be your eyes, lips, or cheekbones, for example,” says Soons.
What short styles are best?
If you know that you want to go short but are unsure of where to start, worry not. Keeping scrolling to discover the short hairstyles women over 50 love with all of the celebrity inspiration you might need.
If styling your hair is the last thing you want to think about in the morning, this low-maintenance cut could be for you. “For an older woman that has a natural curl or wave, the pixie cut is the best choice as it uses the hair’s natural pattern to create texture and volume. They are also relatively easy to style and maintain on a day-to-day basis,” says Maine.
Considered the queen of pixie cuts, Dame Judi Dench’s textured cut creates the illusion of thick locks.
This edgy style is effortlessly cool.
Short, straight and iconic. Jamie Lee Curtis is forever serving timeless hair inspiration.
This grown-out pixie cut is the epitome of cool. Plus, styling it out is more or less effortless.
Ever so slightly longer than a traditional pixie cut, Ellen’s short-back-and-sides style is perfect for those who like to keep their hair regimens minimal.
If the pixie cut seems a little too much of a statement, keeping a bit more length could be the perfect answer. A longer pixie style is also a great option for those that want to create an illusion of volume. Maine explains: “Longer layers can add volume, which is ideal if your hair is thinning and falling flat. The long pixie also gives a feminine touch when paired with a sweeping fringe.”
I’m head over heels for this swept-over style, which proves that a long pixie is one of the best cuts to create volume.
This voluminous cut is cropped in all the right places to accentuate this gorgeous curly texture.
I’m not sure I could be any more obsessed with Emma Thompson’s bleached, swept-back cropped ’do. It oozes sophistication.
If you hate spending too long on your hair, this grown-out pixie style is perfect. Just a bit of styling paste is all you need.
Helen’s sweeping fringe adds the ultimate feminine touch on a longer pixie style.
This piecey cut frames the face so perfectly.
Want to keep things simple? “A blunt bob keeps ends looking as fresh as possible. It can look quite quirky, a bit cool, and it’s really easy to style. This style works on wavy, straight, fine, medium, or thick hair, but for curly locks, go brave and cut to the jawline,” says Soons. But be warned: A blunt bob requires commitment. To keep it fresh, it’s advised that you book in for a trim every six to eight weeks.
Although we might know Iman best for having long locks, for a brief period she sported this side-parted bob that was blunt but still slightly choppy to create more shape. I'm obsessed.
I just have one question for Monica Bellucci: How does she get that shine?
Okay, Sharon Stone, you win. Blow-drying a blunt bob back off the face and with serious volume is the perfect way to update a classic style.
Jodie Foster demonstrates how a blunt lob provides endless styling options. Perfect for those who like to switch up their look.
For the evening, a side-parted bob with a loose curl is a super-chic option.
Break the traditional bob-haircut rules and opt for something a little cooler with this no-effort style. “For women who want to keep their length but want to add some life to their limp hair, the bob is a suitable haircut, as it still gives the feeling of having long hair whilst creating volume. Shaggy bob cuts are very popular, as they break the traditional bob haircut rules and create a more adventurous look,” says Maine.
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To give your bob an edge, take it a little shorter like Cate Blanchett. Just above the jawline is usually the sweet spot.
Adding in a subtle fringe to her shaggy bob, Gayle King demonstrates perfectly how to add a classic touch to a timely style.
Ellen Barkin’s side-parted, bleach-blonde locks are igniting serious hair envy.
Viola's coils look super chic in a shaggy bob.
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Shaped around the face and styled into laid-back curls, Meg Ryan’s shaggy lob (long bob) is totally timeless.
Now totally iconic, Jane Fonda’s super-layered bob might require daily styling, but I think it’s totally worth the work.