Short hair after 50: When to cut and how to do it right

How do you know when it’s time to go short?

There’s that moment at the mall when you spot a group of trendy-jeaned women from the back. Their hair is hanging straight below their bra bands—stringy, straggly, fried, and dyed. Maybe there are even extensions in the mix. You think, “Why don’t those girls do something with their hair?”

Then they turn and you realize “the girls” are all well past 50! That’s bad long hair.

Quality is everything when it comes to having long hair at our age. It’s not a question of age appropriate. If you still have thick, glossy, healthy hair by all means go for long if that’s your look. It still works for women like Maria Shriver, Meryl Streep, Twiggy, Jane Seymour, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Andie MacDowell.

However, there is usually a point when super-long starts detracting from your looks rather than enhancing them. If you’re considering finally going for a super short cut, here are some pointers to keep in mind.

Hip, Short Hair After 50: When to Cut and How to Do It Right

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Short hair after 50: What you need to know

In the past, thinking about cutting your hair short at 50+ meant you were usually stuck with one style that often looked tomboyish or frozen in a teased bubble. Now we know going short can be a signature look with lots of styling options just by varying products to change the texture of our hair.

Short eliminates hours of weekly blow-drying, but you do have the cost and scheduling of frequent trims to consider.

And, let’s be honest. Super-short hair looks best on a woman 50+ who has a relatively long, firm neck, a pretty crisp jaw, a nice profile, and a statement hair color. Think of Sharon Stone’s short cut (when she had one), Jamie Lee Curtis, Ellen DeGeneres, Judy Dench, Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right, and you get the idea.

Stylist Chris Cusano of the Brad Johns Color Studio at the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Salon in NYC says, “Women 50+ who are most comfortable with short hair are those who have had short-ish hair all along. You need the right texture, too. If you have curly frizzy hair and like to wear it straight, you’re still going to be spending time with a blow-dryer and flat iron.”

“Body proportions matter,” Chris adds. “When a client asks me if going short is a good idea, we discuss her hair texture, lifestyle, body and any flaws short hair might play up. If you have a double chin or a short wide neck for example, or cowlicks, I may steer you away from a short cut.”

Hip, Short Hair After 50: When to Cut and How to Do It Right

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Why go short?

  • Going a little longer with a short, chin-length cut gives you room to play with built-in options like bangs, choppy ends, and/or a few graduated layers.
  • You can blow a short cut sleek for a very polished look, slide it behind the ears to show off an earring collection, or go for a textured tousled effect.
  • Short hair can be sculptural, dramatic, edgy, or refined depending on your own personal style and willingness to play.

However, a major cut needs thought. Ask yourself how you felt the last time your hair was that short. Will exposing your face make you feel older or younger? How will you feel once the novelty wears off? Don’t do it if you’ve cut your hair short on previous occasions and hated it (you still will) or have weight issues that might benefit from longer, fuller hair for balance.

John Frieda once told me the way to tell if you’ll look good with short hair is to ask yourself three questions:

  1. Do you look great/ feel beautiful straight out of shower or pool with your hair away from your face?
  2. Do you have a good profile with a long neck and defined jawline?
  3. Do you always pull your hair back into a ponytail?

If the answer is yes to all three questions, go for it. You have the confidence, sexy attitude and proportions to pull it off.

Have you gone super short since turning 50? Do you have any tips to share?

Posted in hair care.

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  4. Hair styling tips for fine or thin hair: Do’s and Don’ts for drying your hair
  5. I decided to cut my hair short and embrace my gray

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8 Responses

  1. MirrorWoman MirrorWoman says

    Just last week, all five of us who have theater tickets together showed up with chin length-ish hair! Some had gone from much longer, some just a bit shorter, but I think we all simply needed a change! It’s a great feeling for warmer weather and still works under a baseball cap!

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    • JaneLK JaneLK says

      I am 52 with naturally graying hair that once was dark brown. It is still curly and thick. I cut my hair short last summer.  I have regretted it ever since and told my daughter to remind me of this when I start talking about cutting it again!  I wore my hair very short for many years and it had nice body so it was like Jamie Lee Curtis’ hair but with height.  The last 15 years or so I have been wearing it in varying stages of longer.  I think the best length on me is about chin length almost in a bob.  It keeps my curls but it is not so long that it weighs me down and it is still long enough to pull back if I choose.  I do not have that nice crisp jawline spoken of in the article and the one area where I am aging in a manner that I don’t like is my neck.

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  2. ThurmanLady ThurmanLady says

    I actually went really short in my late 40s and had a spiky, boyish haircut for quite some time. It was a natural for me, since my cowlick was in the right place to help style it and since my hair is thick and spiked without any help from me (I don’t like fussing with my hair). When I started to let it grow back out, it was tough to make it through the stages. When I lost my job and could no longer get a regular cut, I was so glad I’d let it grow. It’s now down to my bra band and easy to handle, still thick and totally gray/white. I rather enjoy it since it actually hasn’t been this long since the early 70s. ♥

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  3. Alicia Alicia says

    My hair is thick and curly and down to my waist. I doubt I will ever get it cut.

    1 like

  4. aznikki aznikki says

    I always had very short hair until my 40′s, now it’s about chin length.  It  definitely takes a special woman over 50 to wear long hair as you said.  I see so many older women with long, straight hair who look like the wicked witch of the West!!!

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  5. Generic Image luciestelle says

    Lucie says

    I really love my hair.  They are gray and white.  I’m 58 years old.  I feel good with this lenght.
    I love natural color for me.  I do not look older.  I get a haircut every 31-33- days and I am happy with this.

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  6. Generic Image Maureen Duffin says

    My key issue with moving to short hair six years ago was coloring grey hair to brown.  Even with my superb hair dresser (Sheer Cut in Norwalk, CT) the hair gets ribbons or layers of color between more recently colored hair near the roots to hair that hasn’t been colored in months toward the ends.  Solution: a cool short hair style, of which Tina can create many variations.  It depends on your stylist to keep you looking sharp and not severe or even an unfortunate resemblance to an adolescent boy from the back.

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  7. Generic Image Gail McConnon says

    My hair has been short for a long time. I’m at the point of seriously considering taking the next step – having it all shaved off. There are only so many ways to play with short. Besides, summer is almost here. Why not?!

    1 like

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