How Old Is Too Old to Wear Long Hair?

A reader writes in:

At what age is a woman too old to wear long hair?  Healthy debate going on with my friends; we’re all late 30s, early 40s.

I thought this was an interesting question to ponder, especially given that long hair is on trend at the moment. I know plenty of women over 40 who wear long hair beautifully. But there are always the hold outs — the ones who keep wearing long hair because it is comfortable to them even when it may no longer look great. You know who you are . . .

I had to go short much earlier than most women. My hair used to be long and shiny and (I thought) pretty. It wasn’t ever particularly thick, but it was thick enough. I never had long hair as a child so when I was adult and finally grew it out, I was in love with it!

Jo-Lynne circa 2002

Then after having my 3rd child, my hair started thinning horribly. I wrote all about it. It wasn’t thin at the scalp, but it just ceased to grow in. I started cutting my hair shorter and shorter until I ended up with the style I have now.

It took some getting used to, and at first it did make me feel like I looked older (and not in a good way). But now I realize that I look much better with a shorter hair style. I feel like it’s always stylish and cute, whereas long hair can be aging and frumpy — but it isn’t always.

Jennifer Aniston is 44, and she looks great with long hair.

photo credit: au.lifestyle.yahoo.com

Of course, she doesn’t exactly look 44 either. Aaaaaaand she has a whole style team to keep her hair looking youthful and gorgeous. So maybe that’s a bad example.

But I know of other women who are wearing long hair well way past 40, I just don’t want to call them out right here.

Most of us should probably give it up at some point, but ultimately I think it comes down to the woman, her individual style, and how her hair is holding up. I definitely wouldn’t put an age on it.

What do you say!? Weigh in!!!

Comments

  1. says

    Ah, interesting topic! I think the key is knowing your hair. Super thin, fine hair just doesn’t work as you age. It highlights how little hair you have. But if it’s thick enough and healthy, go for it! I can think of a few ladies from our church that are well in their 60s and still sporting gray hair to their waist – and they look fantastic! I sorta think it makes them look younger, but their hair look healthy.

    I personally have been a long hair girl for along time and went from middle of my back to above my ears last year. I like it but my boys keep asking when I’m going back to long hair.=/ I’m not sure I have the fortatude to keep it short when they keep asking for it long.=)

  2. says

    I really think it does depend on the person. I’m 6 foot tall and I used to have short hair in high school. Then I had a brilliant idea to grow it out and LOVED it. I wish I had done that earlier. After my 2nd child I cut it all off thinking maybe I was getting to old for the long hair (I was 33 at the time) and I hated it. I’m 42 now and I have hair down to my waist. Yes the grays are starting to creep in but not to bad. It still looks healthy and my hubby still thinks it’s hot, so for now I’m keeping it that way. BUT you never know what the future holds. I was trying to find a picture of me and this is all I could come up with. It was my birthday of 2011. Not the best picture but you can at least see part of my hair. LOL! http://www.homesteadersheart.blogspot.com/2011/07/birthday-is-done-for-year.html
    Have a lovely day.
    Kim

  3. says

    I think if you love it, do it. Who cares how old you are! That being said, I prefer my long hair to be straight – long straight beautiful hair is gorgeous on anyone. I don’t care if it’s colored or grey. Long big giant bouncy sprayed styled hair? Not so much. But that’s just my personal opinion.

    I think if you dress for yourself, and you’re happy, you will look beautiful.

  4. Leslie says

    I turn 50 in 2 weeks . . my hair is shoulder length and naturally curly — but if I didn’t color, it would be that wiry, ugly grey. Like you, I never had long hair until adulthood . .. and to me, it’s a softer look than hair that is very short. I refuse to chemically straighten — my curls are fun and versatile. I say go for it — regular trims and color updates keep it fresh and young!

    • says

      I don’t think of shoulder-length hair as long, really. I actually read somewhere that as you age, sometimes it is better to go a BIT longer, as in, shoulder length. Because as you say, very short hair can be harsh. I like mine somewhere above my shoulder and below my chin. Any shorter, and it feels harsh. Any longer and it gets stringy. :-) But like someone else said (maybe on my Facebook page) I think a lot of it has to do with the type of hair you have. I am jealous of your natural curl! I always tell C that I want her hair. Of course, she wants straight hair like R and me. Isn’t that always the way? LOL.

  5. Beth says

    I had a “bob” for years when I had babies and didn’t want the fuss of long hair. But now that my kids are older and I have a little more time to fix my hair I love having it long (I’m 38). I think long hair that is well maintained and groomed is beautiful at any age. There’s a lady at my church who is well into her 50′s and has the most gorgeous thick hair ever and it goes down to her upper back. Also, if you get a Keratin treatment you can keep it looking lustrous for 6 months at a time with very little effort. Go for it ladies :)

  6. says

    Well you know I’m in the long hair camp. I think it depends on the hair and the face. My hair is so thick it looks horrid when short. I think it makes me dress more youthful to have longer hair too. So that could be a plus or a minus.

  7. says

    I actually love seeing older women with long gray hair- especially if it’s styled cute or cut in a nice way. I tend to think that’s how I’ll be when I’m way past 40! Right now I fluctuate between really long and then short. Currently I’m in the middle growing it long again! (I’m 36)

    Steph

  8. Jenn says

    I live in NH in an area full of retirees and earthy crunchy types and there are many older women who are rocking their long hair. I think it’s a regional thing because I don’t see as many older women with long hair when I’m visiting the Midwest. I’m in my mid-40s and my hair is down to the middle of my back. I need to take a bit better care of my hair now and I avoid a center part but I love it long and don’t plan to change it for a long time.

  9. says

    Isn’t it funny how much weight is placed on our hair? Not a complaint…just a comment. I’m 47, soon to be 48. I have long hair and have given no thought to going shorter. I have always had long hair. It is curly and I need the length to “tame” it. That is until 2 years ago when I had to do my best to rock a bald head from chemo. The craziest thing is when I first received my cancer diagnosis (a pretty ugly one), my thoughts focused mainly on the hair I was going to lose and how much I dreaded the short hair I would be forced to wear as it grew back. Even my mom made mention of how she was concerned for me. She feared I couldn’t pull off the short hair “thing”.

    As one would guess, once my mind cleared and I began to focus on what I was dealing with, I finally realized short hair…or no hair for that matter…was the least of my worries. All that said, I still believe hair is a big issue for women. Always has been. Always will be. To me, the answer of long vs short is simply what makes you feel your best. Right now, long hair makes me feel more alive. (Silly, but true.) And… for me, it is much easier to care for than short hair. Fortunately, I have thick, healthy hair so it works. In time, I’m sure I will give short hair another try.

    BTW, your hairstyle is fab-U-lous! Seems you found the perfect cut for you!! Isn’t that what it’s all about?

    • says

      Absolutely. Hair is such a personal thing too. (And I know from others who have had cancer that the hair is often the most upsetting part of the entire experience. You are not alone!)

  10. says

    Growing up I always remember my mom saying to me that “women of a certain age should not have long hair” – and still to this day, she says it to me! I guess shedding your hair was some sort of rite of passage to adulthood/maturity in her generation’s mind.

    I’ve never had long hair, but I’ve had longer hair, down to my shoulders in my late 20s early 30s. Once I had kids it became much harder to maintain, since I have thin hair, but A LOT of it. Now it’s a chin length bob which is longer in the front (to look like some length) and shorter in the back.

    If you have the time and discipline to have long hair, why not have it. If it looks like a rats nest, then you should do something that is more manageable….

  11. Cathy says

    I have been thinking about this lately. I think the “women of a certain age” comment developed a long time ago when there was a lot less product out there to keep hair looking soft and beautiful well beyond 40. Not all hair needs product, and product can’t help all hair, but it does give the vast majority many more options than before.
    I am 34 and growing out my hair, but my hair takes FOREVER to grow once it get about below shoulder length. I think that’s nature’s way of telling my that I long hair doesn’t quite work for me.

  12. says

    ive had similar hair issues since i turned 40, er 27. i really believe that long hair looks youthful and while we all want to look young, it is sometimes not that flattering. sometimes you need to listen to your hair stylist or someone you trust to tell you whether the style works for you or not.

  13. says

    I think you know where I’m going to fall on this, right? At least personally :) My hair is LONG and has been forever and will be as long as I can get away with it. I hope someone will tell me if it ever reaches a point where it is no longer attractive, but until then… I’m sticking long – and I’m now 40. I think it truly matters most how YOU feel about it – your comfort level and what makes you feel most ‘you’. I’m most ‘me’ with long hair… so here I am :)

  14. Barbara says

    I have often wondered this myself, as I am 53 and have long hair down to my waist. Yes I color it now and then to hide the grays…but I think for me it works. I do get compliments on how long and shiny it is. Do I think about cutting it? sometimes. But as much as I think about it, I cant picture myself with short hair. And for the most part it is so easy, I just brush and go, or pull it up into a ponytail or braid.

  15. says

    I’ve never been able to grow my hair more than a couple inches past my shoulders – it’s too brittle, sadly. With natural curls, I had amazing pregnancy hair – not so much anymore, now that my son’s almost a year old. When he got old enough to start yanking my hair on the changing table, I went with a bob just below the chin.

    I will probably get sick of the bob and grow it out when he’s a bit older and less tempted to pull my hair out (I can do that all by myself, thankyouverymuch LOL!). I’m 43.

    I love long, well-kept hair on older women when it suits the face. It really becomes a crown of beauty – even (especially?) when it’s gray. That said, it’s the whole package that makes or breaks it. Long hair + scraggly looks is not flattering at all IMO.

  16. says

    There are too many considerations here, and I really don’t think age is one of them – haha! The woman’s face, hair, her and her family’s preferences, her personal style. I’m planning to have long hair MORE in my older years than I did when I as in my 30s. A short bob is chic. But long hair is a great convenience b/c you don’t have to get it cut nearly so often, and you can PUT IT UP, off the neck. My oldest friend is 100. She has long gray hair that she’s always worn in a lovely twisted bun on the back of her head. It’s a matter of preference, and what each woman finds to be convenient for her.

  17. Jenny says

    I cut my hair into a pixie cut 5 years ago and now its very long. I go back and forth all the time but looking at pictures longer hair suits my face. I think the hair depends on the woman just like makeup or clothes.

  18. says

    I might be a little “young” to be weighing in, but I thought I’d put in my 2 cents… It think it all depends on the woman. I’ve always had my hair short and always felt like it made me look older, more mature – and that’s fine and all when you’re 20 and trying to look more sophisticated and not like some teenager right out of high school. I recently started growing my hair out and to my surprise, it actually makes me look younger. Since I’ll be 29 this year (don’t judge me please) and it’ll be my last year that I can offically say I’m in my 20′s, looking young is a good thing, right? It all depends on the style and the woman’s facial structure.

  19. says

    I think it depends on the person and their features. I have seen some women that look absolutely fabulous with long hair even into their 50s even with it gray but in the same thought I think short can age some women as well. I had mine shoulder length & little longer for years about a year ago I went almost pixie short and everyone told me how I lost 10 years (I’m 45). Wasn’t sure whether to take that as a compliment or not…LOL.

  20. says

    I don’t feel there should be a certain age that requires a woman to cut her hair short. Who comes up with these rules anyway? I love to see women with long gray hair. My hair is probably the longest it has ever been (halfway down my back) and I love it like that. I can do so much more with it long than if I were to cut it short. I discovered a product called a Flexi Clip that helps me to do so many different styles. I fell in love with it so much that I became a consultant. So I guess long hair is a job requirement now! LOL!

  21. says

    So, I turned 47 this year and finally cut my hair off. The downside is that people no longer think I am younger than I really am, but the upside is that, as a professional business woman, I feel a lot more polished. Tough call!

  22. Julie says

    I’m so back and forth with my hair. My curls are ridiculously difficult at certain times of year… And at certain lengths. So I’ll cut, to below the chin, then grow out again. Right now, straight, I’m longer than I’ve been in years and I’ll admit I’m surprised I haven’t felt the urge to cut recently. but when I’m curly, it still curls to just below the shoulders. With so much thick hair, for me it’s about looking right on my body, more than find length. As long as I can keep a balance that looks healthy on me, I’m cpgood with it.

  23. mary b says

    I think it really depends on the person. Many people should not have long hair despite their age, it is a matter of what fits the person. I love watching shows like What Not To Wear when they transform a person with a simple haircut!
    I like to change my style around a lot and even into my late 40′s I let it grow longer a few times. Now I’m 50 and my hair is above the shoulder and I am likely to keep it this way for a while. The less weight makes it look so much fuller and lively! Although I tell DH that I am going to let it go grey and grow it long when we retire and are living on the beach in Mexico. ;)

  24. hilary thom says

    I know this comment is wayyy past date of post, however: Saw Palmetto & Iron supplements ! (to ingest, not rub on). Less hair falling out for sure.

  25. Janelle says

    I’ve seen women into their 60′s with long hair. I think if it suits your face, and your hair is healthy and beautiful, you could rock long hair and look fabulous any age. I love long hair but my hair is super thin due to losing it from Lyme disease, so I go as long as I’d like without it being so unflattering. Mine is still probably long to most people though. I find that the heavier I am, the better I look with long hair. When I was super thin, short hair looked better on me.

  26. Ron says

    I think that most of the women who cut off their long hair after 40 make a huge mistake. Except for a couple women I know who seem to be allergic to grooming tools, I think that really long hair looks great on you.

  27. Darla Ng says

    Why do women even care what other people think? These people have issues worse than long hair. After turning 60, I am pretty much free of what other dysfunctional people think. Thank God I’m free at last.

  28. says

    I think women thinking other women should cut their hair short need to mind their own beeswax. I see women who are older who dye their hair and spend a lot of time styling it, and then women who wear it long and braided, and do not dye it. Many older women wear their long hair beautifully braided, and do not want to do what is considered trendy and stylish. Personally, more power to the women who do their old thing and flout the rules of what is stylish. I am thinking as I age I will do what I want, and not what others consider to be better.

    • lynda says

      I totally agree nobody has a right to tell you what to do with your hair,i’m turning 60 soon my hair is long and I have no intention of getting it cut,in fact i’m growing it longer,my friends and relos suggest I try something new now im 60,well I am going to rebel and be myself and myself loves long hair.

  29. Lynda says

    Never too old
    To wear long hair or,whatever else life is short live it the way you want,cause there’s no second chances

  30. Rose says

    I consider myself fortunate to have maintained a full head of healthy hair with few grays well into my 40′s. As I approach 50, and the “change”, the frequent hot spells and general feeling of being 10 degrees warmer than I should be most of the time, I am fighting the urge to chop off my hair for this temporary passage of life. Could the heat of the moment be the reason why so many women past the age of 50 suddenly and permanently go with a much shorter style?
    I’ve decided to ride it out and pull my hair up on my hot days rather than chop it off because that’s what society expects! Another year or so and I’ll be cooled off and glad I kept my well earned long hair!

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