Every now and then a reader will call me out on one of my beauty suggestions. Sometimes I think they are dead wrong. Other times, their comments force me to rethink my beauty philosophy. The following email is one of those times that made me rethink my words.
I keep hearing you say that one of the worst things is to look young from behind and old from the front. I don't think this is a well thought out expression. Are you also against looking pretty from behind and "ugly" from the front? Do we really have to broadcast our age from the back? I have not heard you make fun of people who have had Botox shots or plastic surgery to look younger. Just what is wrong with having LONG luxurious hair and a lovely figure while aging? I don't think it is a good message and I felt compelled after hearing it a number of times to say something, in case you have not thought of it from this angle.
Long and Love It.
Dear Long and Love It,
I must agree with you that long hair can be beautiful. Hair that flows and swings can be pretty, sexy and romantic. It can be a viable look for some women post forty.
The prerequisite for the more mature woman to wear long hair is the quality of her hair and how it suits her face. Most mature women who can successfully wear their hair long are genetically gifted. In many cases, women past forty have to deal with a new set of problems that they are often not prepared for because they are never discussed. More mature hair is often a different texture than it is for a woman in her twenties. The hair can become fine but simultaneously course because of the greying process that usually occurs at this point in time. It becomes more and more difficult to keep hair looking healthy and vibrant without an incredible amount of constant maintenance.
Even if you are lucky enough to have a great mane of hair, there is another consideration that cannot be ignored and that is your face. What is the quality of your skin? Has gravity been kind to you? How different is your face shape today than it was in your twenties? These are all determining factors in deciding what is the best length for your hair.
If you find yourself wearing your hair back in a ponytail every day, your long hair is not working for you. This usually means that if it is worn loose, it drags your face down or it accentuates your wrinkles and sagging skin. It can also accent those few extra pounds that most women acquire over the years.
I know that this is not the news that you want to hear but from my years of experience behind the chair, I am convinced that I speak the truth. This does not mean that every woman of a certain age must wear a short hair style. There are many variations of long hair that can provide softness to most any face shape. This often requires the placement of a few layers to provide lift and to exaggerate your better features while disguising your beauty flaws. This will also provide fullness to your hair and avoid the possibility of an excessively harsh flat look.
Here are some guidelines to looking great while wearing hair long for women past forty.
1) Make sure your hair is age appropriate no matter what the length. This is achieved by having the correct hair shape for your face and body proportions. Your hairdresser will help you determine the best shape for you.
2) Your hair must look healthy. This means that frequent conditioning and trims are mandatory. Hair that is dull with split ends is never attractive.
3) Keep your color simple. This will give your hair the warmth it has lost over time and add shine and body. Avoid excessively dark or light hair. This will only make your hair look unnatural and dull.
I have changed my position on mature women wearing long hair. If you feel beautiful with long hair and are willing to keep up with the maintenance, you can and should wear your hair long. If you are not willing to keep your long hair looking great, I would suggest a shorter style. Always remember this old but always true beauty adage: "There is nothing worse than mutton trying to look like lamb."
All the best,