Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Hair Debate: When are you too old for long hair?



I hate the title of this post. It makes me cringe, it’s well… so harsh.

But the truth is, it’s time to get my hair trimmed and I can’t help but notice this faint, nagging thought creeping into my head these days. It’s about my hair length. Maybe it has to do with my recent birthday, or maybe it has to do with forty-two year old Jennifer Aniston chopping off her own iconic tresses, but lately I’ve been wondering about all this fuss over hair length and a women’s age.

Don’t get me wrong. I like my hair longer. Over the years I’ve noticed that I feel my best when my hair is in long layers, and worn below my shoulders, and although it’s often pulled back into a ponytail, I still know it’s there, available to toss over my shoulders if I get the urge.

But lately it seems that everyone I know is wearer their hair shorter.  Oh, I realize my observations are pretty informal, but I’m still curious. What makes women in their forties and over, give up their longer hair? And how will I recognize when it’s time for me to get that major haircut?

On a whim, I decide to look for signs that my longer hair is no longer age-appropriate, whatever that means. So I gaze into the mirror, on the hunt for fresh wrinkles and gray hairs that might have snuck out from my hairline during the night, only I find nothing new. In fact, I look just the same as yesterday. And my hair?  No signs of rebellion there. My hair looks perfectly content the way it is, slightly outgrown and in dire need of some highlights.

But this is too easy. Maybe I’m missing something. And suddenly I’m struck by this ominous suspicion. Yikes!

  • What if my sweet, reassuring hairdresser can’t be trusted?
  • What if there’s been a conspiracy of silence among my friends?
  • What if all this time, I’ve been fooling myself?

What if I THINK I look like this:


When I actually look like THIS:


OK, I’m exaggerating. But this topic makes me cranky. Where are the step-by-step instructions for figuring out the best hair length for your age? I don’t ask for that much, just a simple mathematical formula that says, two forehead wrinkles and a sunspot equals one quarter inch of hair.

And where is the wise, soft-spoken Hair Whisperer when you need him? A mystical Yoda, someone who will not tell a lie, or worry about losing me as a client, and instantly prescribe the perfect hair advice for my own special wrinkles, face shape and age.


Diane Keaton: Age 65                                   Madonna: Age 53

ss-110901-celebs-05_ss_fullJennifer Lopez 2011 Winter TCA Tour Day 7 -dHAhX7QPy6l

Sarah Jessica Parker: Age 46                       Jennifer Lopez: Age 42

Thank goodness for pictures. If you want to see some of the best hairstyles for women over forty, you can begin HERE for inspiration.

And you can ask yourself these two fundamental “over forty” hair questions:

1. Does your hair “pull your face down?”

The general consensus is this; longer hair on women is harder to wear as the face ages. This is because as the face matures, it loses it definition. Gravity causes things to droop. Long hair around the face adds weight and heaviness around the face, and this can seem to  “pull the face down,”  drawing more attention to saggy eyelids or a softer jawline.

According to Lynne Chapman, “Should Older Women Wear Long Hair?”,  you can assess your current haircut this way: pull your hair up and away from your face to see if you look thinner or more youthful, without the long hair hanging next to your face. If the answer is yes, you can still keep your hair longer, but improve it by adding layers, which can “lighten” your look.

2. Have you changed your hair color lately?

And don’t forget color. According to Tippi Shorter, a member of the Pantene Relaxed and Natural Academy of Science and Style and also a celebrity stylist whose clients include Jada Pinkett Smith, color is especially important for women in their forties and over. She warns that as women age, one very common mistake is to go too blonde in an attempt to cover your gray, or to hold on to that jet black hue. She advises adding lighter highlights that will add “lift” to a woman’s face. (“Is your hair aging you?” Didi Gluck)

Whew. it’s a lot to consider. So what will I do at my next hair appointment?

I think I’ve figured it out.

My five steps to finding the perfect length for my hair at my next appointment:

  1. Read this Style article: “Are you too old for long hair?” before my hair appointment.
  2. Sit in the chair and talk to my hairdresser about her upcoming wedding in October. Love those details!
  3. Close my eyes and enjoy those brief, but luxurious moments of hair washing.
  4. Sip my green tea, open the latest Vanity Fair magazine and prepare to dive into a juicy article.
  5. And my hair? Oh that. It’s really simple. I’ll just do whatever I darn well please.


And now, for the fun stuff….


   Apple martinis anyone?




1 comment:

Art and Sand said...

I have shoulder length hair and will keep it that way. When I wear my hair short (easier for daily swimming) I look like my mother. Now, don't get me wrong, I loved my mother. But, she was OLD when she died and she looked old when she was my age. My longer hair makes me look more stylish. And, it forces me to do more with it. I have to straighten it or else it looks like - can't even think of a word bad enough. It just looks WILD and bushy. So, I keep my hair longer, straighten it and during the school year only swim every 3 days. In the summer, I can swim daily and get away with wild pony tails.

I would love to look like Diane Keaton. She looks like my sister. And I look like my sister. But I don't look anything like Diane Keaton.

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