Already have an account?
Get back to the

Long Hair Over 50? Why Not? Here’s How to Flaunt It If You’ve Got It

Hair longer than shoulder-length used to be taboo for women over 50, but times are changing

It was a rite of passage: as soon as our mothers and grandmothers turned 50, they’d start asking for shorter and shorter styles. Gone were the carefree ponytails and in came the hairstyles that need styling and frequent touch ups. And while there’s nothing wrong with rocking a pixie at 70, some of us enjoy the ease of long hair. If you’re over 50 and prefer to wear your hair long, don’t hesitate to go for it.

Granted, our hair texture and color changes over the years, and will continue to change, which may make sporting a longer hairstyle feel more daunting. As we get older, fine hair may feel thinner and more delicate, while thick hair becomes stiff and coarse. That’s why Woman’s World asked celebrity hairstylists, master colorists and dermatologists to share their tips and tricks to having gorgeous, shiny, healthy hair over 50 — and how to get the most flattering long-hair styles.

What if my hair is thinning?

Two things happen as you get older: the diameter of each individual hair gets smaller and you also simply have less hair. While going for the big “chop” might seem like the easiest solution, it isn’t always necessary. To get thicker hair, try a dandruff shampoo, like Nizoral A-D (Buy from Amazon, $15.47), with ketoconazole one or two times a week, recommends Joshua Zeichner, MD, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. This antifungal compound wipes out tiny yeast that can be causing the scalp-inflammation that leads to hair loss — plus, it helps shift follicles into an active growth phase so locks can grow in fuller.

“Reducing yeast on the scalp may help decrease inflammation and promote healthy hair growth,” says Dr. Zeichner. Even better: Ketoconazole also removes dihydrotestosterone (DHT) from the scalp, a hormone linked to shedding, as its anti-inflammatory properties help fight scalp infections.

Another tip? “You can make your long hair look thicker by cutting the hair blunt and adding square layers,” suggests Joe Vitale, the owner of Gerard Anthony Salon in New York City. Vitale recommends using a volumizing shampoo (and a volumizing spray before blow-drying), which will make hair look and feel lush.

What if my hair is wiry, dry or brittle?

The older we get, the less hair-hydrating natural oil our scalp produces, making our curly or gray strands feel even coarser. To the rescue: a coconut milk and honey hair mask. Coconut milk’s fatty acids penetrate into hair to restore moisture and soften strands, while its vitamin E seals hair’s cuticle for added shine. Plus, the humectant honey further conditions tresses so they’re soft, shiny and strong. To do: Combine 12 cup of coconut milk and 2 Tbs. of honey. Apply all over damp hair; let sit 15 minutes, then rinse. Repeat weekly to prolong the results. 

What if my hair is gray — how do I keep it from discoloring?

If you’ve embraced your beautiful gray hair, and are thinking about growing it long, you’ll want to remember that grays tend to oxidize quickly, causing hair to take on a yellow or orange tinge. The key: Neutralize it with a purple-tinted conditioner like Joico Color Balance Purple Conditioner (Buy from Amazon, $24). Its violet pigments instantly cancel out brassy, discolored tones. Plus, the conditioner’s rosehip oil (it moisturizes hair) and green tea extract (it fortifies hair to thwart breakage) treat the coarse gray strands at the same time, so they’re soft, healthy, full and lustrous. Use once a week in place of regular conditioner (overuse can leave hair with a purple cast), and first stock up on purple shampoo.

Also, since white hues lack pigment, and long hair covers more surface area, long locks easily pick up colors in the environment that make them look dull and “dirty.” The fix? Colorist Mike Petrizzi suggests saturating dry hair with a clear “top coat” like AGEBeautiful Ultra Bond Hyper Lift Creme Color + Clear (Buy from Sally Beauty, $5.69), checking hair every 10 minutes until the desired shade is reached. “The ammonium hydroxide acts like a bleach, without the hair-damaging effects, to brighten and whiten dingy hair,” he says. Plus, silk amino acids in the formula seal hair’s cuticle, reflecting more light onto locks to boost shine.

If you’re not a fan of going gray just yet, you’ll be happy to know that your monthly paint job is also working to make your hair look fuller, because the dye coats the hair shafts, making them thicker.

What are some of the best long hair styles for me?

Keep scrolling to see some of the most flattering and youthful celebrity-inspired looks for long hair over 50.

Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between menu items. Use right arrow key to move into submenus. Use escape to exit the menu. Use up and down arrow keys to explore. Use left arrow key to move back to the parent list.