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 — even with glasses — 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. But 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, as its anti-inflammatory properties help 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.
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.
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!
Best Long Hairstyles for Women Over 50 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.
Keep scrolling to see some of our favorite celebrity-inspired hairstyles for women over 50 with long hair.
Long Hairstyles For Women Over 50 Kathy Ireland
Kathy Ireland's Flawless Blowout
Who hasn't envied Kathy Ireland's voluminous mane? You can achieve a similar blowout at home with a boar bristle brush (these brushes are great for women with thinning hair, as they're gentle).
Long Hairstyles For Women Over 50 Lucy Liu
Lucy Liu's Flowing Locks
Lucy Liu's Rapunzelesque hair is the picture of health. It's easy for hair to look drab and dull due to a variety of factors, like weather and excessive use of heat styling tools. Luckily, you can revive your strands with a hydrating coconut oil hair mask.
Long Hairstyles For Women Over 50 Lynda Carter
Lynda Carter's Bouncy Barrel Curls
Wonder Woman actress Lynda Carter's beauty-pageant curls instantly add glam to an everyday outfit.
Long Hairstyles For Women Over 50 Beverly Johnson
Beverly Johnson's Wavy Mane
Show your hairstylist a picture of Beverly Johnson's if you want a low-maintenance cut that will look as good on the fifth day of not washing it as it will when you walk out of the salon.
Best Long Hairstyles For Over 50 Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson's Sky-High Ponytail
Janet Jackson's hair has changed a lot over the years, but she's preferred longer hairstyles in recent years. Fortunately, long locks keep her looking youthful. Jackson adds a twist to her ponytail by wrapping hair around the base of her updo to instantly elevate her look and add some oomp. We'll definitely have to try this hair hack the next time we want to add a stylish twist to our regular old ponytail.
Long Hairstyles Over 50 Sarah Jessica Parker
Sarah Jessica Parker's Messy Side Ponytail
A messy ponytail is our go-to lazy-day hairstyle, but SJP proves it can be elevated with a few simple accessories. A bright-colored top and a cute hair ribbon transform a hairdo you usually reserve for running errands into a chic pony that you could totally wear on a date night with your hubby. Pulling out a few strands in the front to frame your face keeps the 'do from looking too polished.
Long Hairstyles Over 50 Elle Macpherson
Elle Macpherson's Glossy Hair
Even though her enviable physique earned her the nickname "The Body," supermodel Elle MacPherson's luscious blonde locks deserve some attention, too. So, what's the secret to Macpherson's long, healthy hair? "I fill my swimming cap with [conditioner] while doing my laps [in the pool], or in summer I like to walk around with my hair coated with it. It’s a nice wet-look style," she told Get the Gloss in October 2018.
Long Hairstyles Over 50 Elizabeth Hurley
Elizabeth Hurley's Highlighted Curls
Subtle highlights are the perfect way to add depth to your hair without committing to a full head of bleach. English actress and model Elizabeth Hurley shows us how it's done with understated honey-hued highlights that blend in perfectly with her chestnut-brown hair. Adding a few soft curls makes the highlights look even more natural.
Long Hairstyles Vanessa Williams
Vanessa Williams' Tousled Waves
There's something oh-so-effortless about Vanessa Williams' soft waves. This hairstyle for long hair is perfect for days when you want a delicate curl but you don't want to dry out your hair with too much heat. To achieve the same look, use a curling iron with a larger barrel and skip the hairspray so the curls will fall. Your hair will look even better the next day!
Long Hairstyles Over 50 Jane Seymour
Jane Seymour’s Piecey Fringe
Jane Seymour, the former Bond girl and star of the hit show Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, is known for her stunning auburn hair, which she’s still rocking at 67 years old. Seymour’s piecey bangs beautifully frame her face while still looking soft.
Long Hairstyles Over 50 Salma Hayek
Salma Hayek’s Shiny Curls
It’s tempting to want to add highlights, lowlights, or any other kind of lights to get dimension in your hair. But actress Salma Hayek, 52, proves that you don’t need to go crazy with hair dye to achieve a fuller-looking head of hair.
Long Hairstyles Iman
Iman’s Glossy Side Ponytail
Remember back in the '80s when side ponytails were all the rage? Model Iman, 63, shows that the nostalgic hairdo can be totally transformed so it’s appropriately modern. If a middle part doesn’t suit your face, try a deep side part like Iman’s.
Long Hairstyles Marisa Tomei
Marisa Tomei's Rich Auburn Curls
We're totally inspired by the deep reddish-brown hue of Marisa Tomei's auburn curls — the perfect fall hair color! Her messy part adds a bit of effortless cool to the look, making it the perfect easy-morning hairstyle. All you have to do is lightly curl it and then you're out the door.
Long Hairstyles Barbara Streisand
Barbra Streisand's Pin-Straight Locks
Women with straight hair always want curls, and women with waves always want straight hair, right? Well, we want Barbra Streisand's perfectly sleek hair! With a simple middle part, Babs' hair is fuss-free and easy. Her long strands also elongate her face, making her appear slimmer.
Long Hairstyles Valerie Bertinelli
Valerie Bertinelli's Sweeping Curls
How old is Valerie Bertinelli? At 58 years old, the actress could pass for someone 15 years younger — and her secret to looking ageless has to do with her hair. The volume at Bertinelli's roots is a trick to mimic if you have thinning hair, as it gives your locks the appearance of being thick, luscious, and full of body.
Long Hairstyles Sandra Bullock
Sandra Bullock's Blunt Bangs
Sandra Bullock's blunt bangs are another hairstyle trend to follow if you're looking to hide your thinning hair. Over time, your hairline can recede, but bangs — especially a fuller fringe — can completely cover your worry spots. The youthful style of this haircut is also a great reminder that you're never too old to wear your hair a certain way.
Long Hairstyles Nicole Kidman
Nicole Kidman's Elevated Ponytail
If you're not a fan of wearing your hair down, copying Nicole Kidman's stylish ponytail will leave you looking anything but basic. Ponytails get a bad rap for being boring; it's a hairstyle you reserve for days when you haven't washed your hair and you just need to get it our of your face. But Kidman shows that with the help of a curling wand, your ponytail can take center stage. Leave out a few face-framing layers for a delicate, romantic look.
Christie Brinkley Hair Bangs
Christie Brinkley's Wispy Bangs
Christie Brinkley's forehead-skimming bangs balance our her voluminous curls, making for the perfect long, layered hairstyles for women over 50. If you're unsure whether blunt bangs that are cut straight across will flatter your face, you can always opt for something like Brinkley's side-swept bangs. The nice thing here is that when your bangs get greasy or you simply want to change it up for the day, you can push your fringe behind your ears or pin it back. Now you've got a whole new look!
Julianne Moore Hair
Julianne Moore's Middle Part
Julianne Moore's fiery mane looks healthy and full, and her middle part keeps her 'do youthful. Opting for a middle part is especially flattering for people with round faces. “If you have a round shape, the ideal part line is down the middle or a deep side part,” celebrity hairstylist Mika Fowler told Byrdie. “Both of these parts will give the illusion of length and create symmetry around your face.”
Long Hair Over 50 Years Old Demi Moore
Demi Moore's Sleek, Straight Hair
Demi Moore's sleek mane is inspiration for all ladies looking for long straight hairstyles for women over 50. Remember when we were little girls and we dreamed of having Rapunzel-length hair? Well, nothing's stopping you! Moore is proof that long locks can look good at any age.
Andie Mcdowell Hair
Andie McDowell's Side-Swept Curls
Andie McDowell's side-swept curls are a perfect example of the many amazing long curly hairstyles for women over 50. Curly hair can be tricky to style, especially if you have a lot of it. Simply run a curling iron through large sections of your hair and opt for a deep side part to recreate McDowell's sultry side-swept 'do.