1. Lose Some Length...
Über-long hair is a tough look for over-40 women. "I call it the '1661' — a woman's long hair makes her look 16 from the back, but from the front you see she is actually nearing retirement age," says Pantene celebrity hairstylist Danilo. A universally flattering length: to the collarbone. "A cut that grazes the collar and has face-framing layers also draws attention away from an aging neck," says Jet Rhys, a San Diego stylist.
2. ...But Don't Overdo It
How short is too short? There's no rule, but keep in mind that the end point of your cut emphasizes the facial feature next to it, says Rhys. So if you're concerned about a sagging jawline, don't ask for a chin-length bob. And remember that a short 'do isn't an excuse to hang up your blow dryer. "Too many women think a short cut is a free pass to forgo styling, but when hair has no polish, it can look matronly," she says. Cropped styles are modern and youthful when they're smooth and sleek; if those qualities don't come naturally to your hair, use a frizz-fighter, like ColorProof HeatProof Anti-Frizz Blow Dry Crème ($28, salons), before styling. Related: Best At-Home Haircolor
3. Embrace Change
"If you have the same 'do you had 10 years ago, it's time for a new look," says Nick Arrojo, owner of Arrojo Studio, NYC. "You're not wearing the same clothes — why have the same hair?" If you're leery of drastic change, take baby steps. "Something as simple as moving your part can update your look," says Rhys.
4. Try New Ingredients
High-tech ones aren't limited to face lotions: A slew of anti-agers, like niacinamide and caffeine, are debuting in hair products. They offer cosmetic benefits, like smoothness, shine, and a generally more youthful appearance, says Jeni Thomas, Ph.D., of Proctor & Gamble R & D: "The hair cuticle is similar to the top layer of skin, so it makes sense that these ingredients will have beneficial effects on hair and skin." Try L'Oréal Paris Advanced Haircare Power Moisture Shampoo ($5, drugstores), with sodium hyaluronate, a common moisture-attracting skin-care ingredient.
5. Redo Your Hue
Whether you hit the salon or take the DIY route, subtle tweaks to your color can make a huge difference. "A woman's complexion lightens and becomes more translucent as she ages, so what looked great when she was 25 may not look so good when she's 50," explains Arrojo. Think about the hair you had as a child, suggests Brad Johns, color director at the Salon & Spa at Saks Fifth Avenue, New York. "Go back to that color family, whether it was blond, brunette, or red. Anything monotone looks severe and aging, so add highlights and multiple tones throughout." When in doubt, err on the lighter side — dark hues create too harsh a contrast with paling skin.
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