Since when was "Thou shalt not have hair below your shoulder after 40, and heaven forbid, after 50" the 11th commandment? Just because you're a certain age doesn't mean an entire hairstyle is officially off limits. It's totally possible to rock long hair over 50, but you'll want to keep your locks in tip-top shape. We've rounded up everything you need to know about maintaining long hair after 50, including the best long hairstyles for ladies over 50 and how to go gray with long hair.
As you age, your hair also changes — and not just the color. Maybe you've noticed your hair texture is different. Over time, fine hair may feel thinner and more delicate, while thick hair becomes stiff and coarse. Fortunately, there aren't many hair problems that a good blowout won't fix. But if you're looking for a long-term natural solution, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to caring for mature hair.
What to Do If You Have Thin Hair
Thin hair and hair loss in women is not uncommon after 50, so don't be ashamed. Despite how prevalent an issue female hair loss is, a bad hair day can still totally ruin your mood. Chopping off your hair might seem like a simple solution to hiding a thin head of hair, but it isn't necessary. If you're wondering how to get thicker hair naturally, there are a few steps you can take. Alexis Wolfer, the author of The Recipe for Radiance ($19.95, Amazon), mentions a relaxing in-shower scalp massage and a fragrant herbal hair rinse as the keys to growing thicker hair.
In the shower, you should also use a dandruff shampoo like Nizoral A-D ($13.96, Amazon) one to two times a week (its anti-inflammatory properties fight scalp infections). "Reducing yeast on the scalp may help decrease inflammation and promote healthy hair growth," says Joshua Zeichner, MD, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
Best Long Hairstyles to Try
It's 100-percent possible to look stylish with long hair even if you're worried about your thin locks — but you might want to have a talk with your hairstylist first. "You can make your hair look thicker by cutting the hair blunt and adding square layers,” says Joe Vitale, the owner of K 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. 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.
Christie Brinkley's forehead-skimming bangs balance our her voluminous curls. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Julianne Moore's fiery mane looks healthy and full, and her middle-part keeps her 'do youthful. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Andie McDowell's side-swept curls anything but boring. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Going Gray With Long Hair
To gray or not to gray, that is the question. Going gray gracefully is a process many women struggle with, and it's fraught with lots of difficult decisions. When is the right time to go gray? Should I go gray naturally? Of course, the answers to those questions will vary from person to person, but here are a few things to know when it comes to going gray.
Whether you have long hair or not, going gray is an undertaking that first requires you to face your fears. Society often ridicules women for their silver streaks, but there are plenty of celebrities with silvery locks who inspire us to embrace our natural beauty. Going gray is a sign of aging, and the moment you embrace it is like starting a brand-new phase in life, a sentiment Roseanne Barr echoed in a Newsweek interview: "I am old now: gray, wrinkled, tired, and bloated, and my joints ache, too. But I am ready to come into my full destiny—as my childhood dreams predicted—as a Neo-Amazonian Pirate Queen of my own vessel: firing cannonballs at the worldwide culture of patriarchy in the name of all that does not suck."
Now that you're feeling inspired to kick butt and look beautiful with your gray hair, let's move on to the logistics of going gray. If you currently dye your hair, it might be easiest to simply let your roots grow out and chop off the colored sections so you're not walking around with two-toned hair. It's possible to keep your hair long while still going gray, though it will require working with your hairstylist so that he or she can slowly fade out the color.
If you're planning on going the budget route — don't! At-home gradual-gray box dyes seem like a cheap alternative, but these products can actually cause your hair to fall out if you wash your hair with hard water. Over time, the constant dyeing will weaken your hair, so it's better to just go to a professional. It might be a little bit more money up front, but it will save you from ruining your hair and having to pay anyway to see your hairstylist so they can fix the mess.
Once you've gone gray, you'll want to stock up on purple shampoo. Over time, your hair can start to get brassy. Fortunately, there are plenty of purple shampoos for gray hair on the market that will counteract those yellow tones.
The most important thing to remember is that you need to do what makes you feel comfortable. Our hair is so integral to our self-esteem that it doesn't make sense to cut yourself off — literally — from the world of long hair. It's time to embrace your long, gray locks because they truly are beautiful!