It used to be that turning 50 meant snipping your long locks into a short, more “age-appropriate” (read: matronly) pixie. The reason? As we age hair starts to thin, and long, one-dimensional cuts can bring that thinning into harsh focus. Luckily, in the years since, many hair- and face-flattering medium-length haircuts have become trendy. From long bobs to shorter shags, there’s a variety of neck-skimming and shorter styles to choose from that help hair look full and fabulous, says hairstylist Rodney Cutler, who has worked with Rachael Ray and other celebs. Best of all, medium-length haircuts come packed with other age-defying benefits like blurring wrinkles, slimming the face and more.
Which medium-length haircuts work best for women over 50?
Keep scrolling to see stunning medium-length haircuts, their age-defying benefits and the over-50 A-listers turning back the clock by donning them.
The silky shell: this medium-length haircut camouflages thinning
The combination of a bluntly cut style (it makes hair appear more “solid”) and side fringe (it hides sparse spots along the temples) creates the illusion of a fuller-looking mane. Adds Cutler, this is one of the medium-length haircuts that “chisels” the jawline and sideswept bangs “lift” cheekbones.
What to ask for: A blunt crop with point-cut ends that rest below the chin, and side bangs long enough to tuck behind the ear.
Styling tip: Blow-dry damp hair using a paddle brush until all of hair is dry. Next, use a flat iron on 1″ sections of hair to smooth out any natural waves or kinks. Finish by misting strands with a dry texture spray (Buy from Ulta, $28). It provides finer tresses with some grittiness so the smooth style doesn’t lie flat against the head.
The banged long bob: this medium-length hairstyle masks furrows
“A classic long bob is universally flattering for all ages,” says hairstylist Diane Stevens, who has worked with Angela Bassett and Regina King. “It’s chic and works well with all hair textures.” What ups the cut’s anti-aging factor? Full bangs — an instant way to mask deeper-set brow wrinkles. Tip: Giving bangs a slight part adds a modern touch.
What to ask for: A shoulder-length long bob that’s slightly graduated in length with razor-cut ends and full, eyebrow-skimming fringe.
Styling tip: Mist damp hair with a leave-in conditioner (Buy from Walmart, $9.90) to nourish and soften coarse, textured hair. Then, blow-dry 1″ sections of hair with a medium-size round brush.
The swirly swing: softens crow’s feet
Strands that float above the shoulders and have soft layered movement pull focus off of the face and away from agers like pesky fine lines around the eyes, says hairstylist Clariss Rubenstein, who has worked with Sofia Vergara and Jennifer Garner. And infusing medium-length haircuts with bouncy curls helps “blur” other agers like laugh lines or jowls.
What to ask for: A bob that sits above the shoulders with graduating, blended layers throughout.
Styling tip: Spritz dry hair with a generous amount of a volumizing spray (Buy from Walmart, $18.99) to help prop up strands at the root and give hair some grip. Then curl 2″ sections of hair with a 1¼” curling iron, having curls fall away from the face (this will draw the eye out and away from crow’s-feet). After all of hair is curled, gently tousle with fingers then set with hair spray.
The fringed shag: conceals a widening part
The “bulk” and mega movement created by a heavily layered, shoulder-sweeping cut tricks the eye into seeing a mane that’s two times thicker. Plus, says hairstylist Stephen Knoll, who’s worked with Cindy Crawford and Kathy Ireland, feathery fringe on medium-length haircuts helps mask thinning along the part and hairline.
What to ask for: A shoulder-length shag with face-framing layers that taper from the temples down and full, wispy bangs that skim the eyebrows.
Styling tip: Apply a dollop of a volumizing mousse (Buy on Amazon, $11.38) all over damp hair to give strands added grip. Next, blow-dry hair with a medium-size round brush until dry, then wrap various 2″ sections of hair around a 1″ curling iron and tousle with fingers. Set with hair spray.
The flirty flip: this medium-length hairstyle slims the face
“The movement of hair that swings at the jawline opens up the neck for a face-slimming effect,” says hairstylist Carrie Butterworth, who’s worked with Sigourney Weaver and Mena Suvari. What’s more, the “sharpness” of textured layers in various lengths around the cheeks “contours” the face for the illusion of more chiseled cheekbones.
What to ask for: A jaw-length cut that has razored layers and ends throughout with feathery, sideswept bangs.
Styling tip: Work a dollop of a volumizing mousse through damp hair. Then, blow-dry hair in 1″ sections with a medium-size round brush, pulling strands down and out toward the ends to create flippy texture. Once all of hair is dry, add a pea-size amount of pomade (Buy on Amazon, $16.99) onto fingers and lightly apply to the ends only to emphasize feathery layers.
The sassy slant: lifts features
“A slanted long bob has such a fresh, youthful feel,” says hairstylist Kim Kimble, who has worked with Oprah Winfrey and Gabrielle Union. “And the slightly uneven style directs focus diagonally so features get an age-defying lift!”
What to ask for: An asymmetrical long bob with choppy, blended layers throughout.
Styling tip: Mist damp hair with a sea salt spray (Buy from Ulta, $6.99) to give strands added bounce and texture. Then, scrunch hair from ends to roots in 2″ sections and blow-dry using a diffuser attachment.
The cheeky chop: this medium-length hairstyle bulks up fine hair
Hair that’s neck-length and has “tiered” layers provides added depth and dimension to finer strands by ensuring they won’t lie flat against the scalp. And an off-center part helps hair sweep over in a curtain-like way to conceal any sparseness along the hairline and at the temples. Adds Knoll, the softness of this cut offsets and disguises any aging woes like fine lines or jowls.
What to ask for: A below-the-chin bob with movement-creating point-cut ends and soft layers that graduate starting at the cheekbones.
Styling tip: Lightly mist a volumizing spray all over damp hair to help plump up finer tresses. Next, blow-dry while using a medium-size round brush on 2″ sections of hair, gently lifting strands up and out at the roots to prop them off of the scalp. When nearing the ends with the brush, pull hair slightly inward to create flippy, hair-thickening texture. Set with hair spray.
The beveled bob: offsets harsh features
A bob with a rounded silhouette helps offset a harsh, strong jawline, says Butterworth. Even better? Strands that are styled straight and sleek reflect light onto hair and skin so they both look luminous and youthful.
What to ask for: A jaw-length cut with slight graduation through the ends (this gives the cut its rounded shape).
Styling tip: Apply a nickel-size amount of a smoothing serum (Buy on Amazon, $9.77) onto damp hair. Next, blow-dry 1″ sections using a medium-size round brush. Once dry, run a flat iron through all of hair, pulling strands inward toward the ends to create a curve-like bend that emphasizes the cut’s softening shape.
For more age-defying haircuts, click through these stories:
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