Hair Mistakes that Make You Look Older

There’s nothing quite like a great haircut. That feeling when you can’t stop catching a glimpse of yourself in the mirror or running your hands through your new layers is priceless. Unfortunately, a bad hairstyle can cut through all that confidence and leave you looking older than you are. The good news is that it’s pretty easy to update your look without a lot of time or money. We asked some of our favourite hairstylists to share the biggest mistakes they see women making with their hair — and how to fix them!

Cat-Lady Long

Our stylists seemed to agree that all women can rock long hair… to a point. That being said, crazy long hair will always age you. “Too long always ages a woman,” advises celebrity stylist Mitch Stone. “I’m not talking past-your-shoulders long, but cat-lady long (not to be confused with Cat Woman).” According to Stone, once your hair has passed your ribs, it’s officially making you look older. He recommends going with a timeless long bob “or as short as an inch or 2 past your chin (think of my girlfriend Kim Basinger’s hair in 9 1/2 weeks — HOT at any age).”

If you love the long look, go for it! Just make sure your haircut does not go shorter in the front and longer in the back. “In general, shorter in the front, longer in the back (unless you’re going for a rocker mullet) tends to look dated,” explains Judy McGuinness, senior stylist at Mizu New York salon. “Keep everything pretty square or a bit longer in the front for shorter hairstyles.”

The Wrong Length

Finding the perfect haircut for your face shape can be a lifelong search. Talk to your stylist about the most flattering look for your hair and face type. Our hair thins as we age, so keeping it long may accentuate the thinning. “If hair is thinning, going shorter is an option,” says Sam Villa Show Ambassador, Marissa Villa. “If you’ve had long hair your entire life, it might be time to update to a lob.”

Whatever you do, make sure your haircut has layers and depth. “The classic hairstyle that makes a woman look older and dowdy is the cut where everything is the same length all over, a few inches long,” says Damian Santiago, co-owner of Mizu New York salon. “Then set with a small curling iron all over. Not cute or modern. Wispy bangs on this look kill it for me.”

As long as you have a dynamic, flattering style, the length of your hair truly doesn’t matter. Santiago told us he has mature clients who rock long layers or short pixie cuts. “A mature client with a strong inner confidence can rock any cool and modern look.”

Never Changing Your Look

For hair stylist Jenna Mast, the biggest mistake women make when it comes to looking older is keeping the same hairstyle for decades. “If you are 50 years old, the chances are high that you’ve been going to a salon for 25+ years and like the way your hair looked in 1992 when you lost a bunch of weight and had that great red dress you wore to your cousin’s wedding,” she told The List. “Which makes it likely that you’ve been instructing hairdresser after hairdresser to recreate that look by showing them that exact dated photo. The reality is, like everything else, hairdressing has evolved dramatically.”

As Sam Villa Show Ambassador, Marissa Villa told us, “It’s important to evolve — everything usually comes back around, but with a modern twist.”

Careful with Colour

Going too dark can add years to your look. “Your hair colour should compliment your skin tone,” explains Sam Villa Show Ambassador, Marissa Villa. “If you have fair skin, jet black is not the best choice, and it’s always a good idea to have more than one colour to add depth and dimension.”

Celebrity colourist Kelly Cardenas also recommends his clients focus on their skin tone when choosing a colour. “No matter your hair colour, if you go up a shade or two, it will give the appearance of looking more youthful, but the placement of highlights is key,” he explains. “Have your hairstylist frame your face to brighten your complexion.”

Celebrity stylist Mitch Stone agrees with steering clear of dark colours and trends that are too young. “For hair, be careful of stripy colours or trying to keep up with trends targeted to a younger generation,” he told The List. “That time is over and I say it’s time to own your power and go with chic and smart.” Stone advises his clients to stick with softer colours, “like golden blondes and gorgeous reds.” The darker colours can be too severe and instantly add years to your face.

Jeff Stump, owner of Artkiteks salon points out that in addition to making you look older, dark colours show Gray or white roots much faster than a more subtle colour. “I recommend blending the colour with highlights or a semi-permanent colour, so that the colour with grow out much better than a solid line and achieving a more natural look.”

The Wrong Part

Our expert stylists taught me so much about small tweaks that can make a huge difference. I had no idea that how you part your hair could age you. “Straight down the middle doesn’t work for everyone, but you also don’t want to have a severe side part either,” Sam Villa Show Ambassador, Marissa Villa told The List. “A soft irregular part could be flattering, and don’t forget about bangs; in some cases, they can make you look younger.”

Too Much Volume

While a little volume can be beautiful, going overboard will only age you. Because our hair tends to thin as we age, many of us worry about it looking too flat. Talk to your stylist about a great volumizing shampoo or flattering layers.

Damian Santiago, co-owner of Mizu New York salon often sees clients trying to get that volume in all the wrong places. “Too often, a mature client thinks she must have height,” he told The List. “Teased up hair can make anyone look older. Volume is different and can look modern and elegant.”

Don’t Fall Flat

As our ageing hair thins, it can be tough to find the right balance. Too much volume and hairspray reads very 80’s. However, no one wants to give in to the thinning. “While it can be a big mistake to have too much volume on your hair, not having enough can also be a large pitfall,” says Murat Evin, creative director at The London School of Make-Up.

“Many women and men with long hair often age themselves unnecessarily by allowing their hair to fall too flat on their face, either by combing it down too much or not using mousse or similar when blow-drying.” Even explains that flat hair only accentuates prominent facial features. So if you’re not crazy about your nose or chin, a flat do calls more attention to them. Make sure you’re not weighing your hair down with too much product, and try not to brush it too much.

The Wrong Shampoo

Your shampoo affects your hairstyle, and it may be making you look older. Shampoos for “normal hair types” are not the best option as you age. “You have to have the right tools and products for gorgeous hair,” says Sam Villa Show Ambassador, Marissa Villa. “Grey and ageing hair has unique characteristics that require a mask once a week, colour protecting shampoo, thermal protectant, and more effort in the fight against frizz.”

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