hairstyles for thin hair: can older women gracefully sport longer hair?

March 16, 2011 at 9:02 am in Fashion & Beauty by VN Editors

The old adage that women of a certain age should cut their hair short is now being challenged by many women over the age of 50. In fact, in a society where catch phrases like “50 is the new 40” are frequently tossed around, it’s not uncommon to see many older women wearing longer hair.

More women over the age of 50 are starting to grow their hair longer as they remain active. And it’s not just about looking and feeling younger. Many say it’s easier to care for because it doesn’t need to be trimmed or styled as often.

The belief that middle-age women should have short hair stems from the fact that our hair can thin as we age and short hair was thought to be one of the best hairstyles for fine, thin hair.

A woman’s hair is at its peak of thickness and strength when she is in her 20s, according to Redken. Over time, external damage becomes visible, sebum production decreases and hair follicles shrink, resulting in thinner and more fragile strands. By age 60, nearly 40 percent of women have experienced some degree of hair loss, mostly around the crown.

But reporter Kristen Hankla at The (Charleston) Post and Courier interviewed several women who are bucking the expectation that women of a certain age are supposed to have certain hairstyles.

Fran Ligon’s cropped bob was the result of her expectation that women of a certain age were supposed to have certain hairstyles. Now, however, she’s wearing her auburn hair long for the first time since she was a teenager. “I like my hair long,” the Charleston resident said. “I don’t even contemplate having it cut. I figure I’ll die with long hair, I really do. It seems to suit me better.”

Hairstylist Peggy Brockman said she has noticed an increase in the number of older women growing their hair out. About 60 percent of her clients over 50 wear their hair below their shoulders, said the co-owner of Salon 61. Brockman says it fits the active lifestyles they lead.

While long hair takes less maintenance, can easily be pulled up, and it requires fewer trips to the salon, certified image consultant, Shauna Heathman, disagrees. She thinks that shorter hair is less of a hassle. Commenting on hairstyles for thin hair, Heathman said a short ‘do also can add fullness and can complement aging skin and serve as an instant face-lift.

“If a woman is worried about sagging skin, longer hair will draw an eye downward, emphasizing exactly what you’re trying to minimize,” Heathman said.

Long hair can be extremely flattering but not necessarily one of the best hairstyles for thin hair. The key to a flattering hairstyle is to align it with the current skin tone, lifestyle and personal style. “When all elements are congruent, you look your very best.” she says.

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