Hairstyles for Women Over 50: The Most Flattering Styles

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Short Hairstyles, Shoulder-Length Cuts and Long Hairstyles

Carla Zampatti. Lisa Maree Williams // Getty Images

Just because you are a Woman of a certain age does not mean you have to go out and get a short, spiky haircut or a perm once a week a la Steel Magnolias. It doesn't mean you have to dye your hair blonde or put your eyeglasses on a chain.

Quite the contrary. These days there are no rules for hairstyles for mature women. You can wear your hair long, straightened, curled or pulled back. As long as it is flattering on you, that is really all that matters.

This gallery features hairstyles on women over 50 that are absolutely gorgeous. Not all haircuts work with all hair textures or with all face shapes. But by the end, you'll have a better idea of which look works for you. 

This long bob on fashion designer Carla Zampatti defies age. Zampatti's hair is thick, has a beautiful sheen and color and is very flattering on her face shape.

Who can wear this: All face shapes.

Best hair texture: The long bob works with all hair textures. If you have curly hair, you'll have to straighten your hair to get this effect.

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Judi Dench Hairstyles

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Judi Dench lets her hair go platinum white. Karwai Tang for Getty Images

Not all super short hairstyles come off as chic as this one on Judi Dench (born Dec. 9, 1934). Judi Dench's pixie hairstyle is her signature cut and is very boyish, Mia Farrow-esque, and just perfect. 

Dench is wearing a mussy style that works on women of all ages from 20 on up. It's an easy cut to maintain -- it's literally wash, muss and go -- but there is maintenance to this cut. As with all short hairstyles, you do have to get your hair trimmed on a regular basis, especially if your hair grows fast.

Stylist Matthew Shields of Sally Hershberger salon suggests in Allure Magazine that to keep this particular cut modern and youthful, "leave the length slightly longer than a traditional pixie and 'add a little wax or pomade just to give it texture and separation.'"

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    Emma Thompson

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    Emma Thompson. Getty Images: left, Lester Cohen and right, Dimitrios Kambouris

    This is a classic short hairstyle on Emma Thompson (born April 15, 1959). Note the tons of layers and the super long, side-swept bangs. In some photos Thompson wears her bangs blown-dry back almost in a mohawk effect, and it looks great.

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    Hairstyles for Women Over Age 50: Helen Mirren

    Helen Mirren. Photo by Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

    This is a lovely cut on actress Helen Mirren (born July 26, 1945). Mirren reportedly cuts her own hair. She told Redbook Magazine, "I can’t handle going to the hairdresser every six weeks, so I only go about once a year. In between, I get out the scissors and do something, usually rather disastrously. Sometimes I’ll even chop my hair the morning of a big red carpet event."

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    A Shoulder-length Cut is Gorgeous on a Blonde Jessica Lange

    Jessica Lange
    Jessica Lange. Frederick M. Brown // Getty Images

    Shoulder-length hair is the most flattering hair length on everyone no matter their age. Find out why in "This Haircut Looks Great on Almost Every Face Shape."

    Jessica Lange (born April 20, 1949), who colors her graying hair a gorgeous blonde, wears shoulder-length hair in her signature cut. Note the volume and body in this particular cut, which is achieved through a few long layers and the right product. If you have fine hair, you can try volumizing mousse or spray to get this look. Blow dry hair with a diffuser or scrunch it dry to create body.

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    Jamie Lee Curtis's Pixie Haircut

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    Actress Jamie Lee Curtis in a pixie hairstyle. Paul Archuleta for Getty Images

    Jamie Lee Curtis (born Nov. 22, 1958) is a trendsetter when it comes to living one's authentic self. She famously posed for More Magazine years ago sans retouching. In the interview, she told the magazine she was working on being the type of woman able to tell magazine editors, "This is what I wear, this is how I wear my hair.’ . . . I’m going to look the way God intended me to look — with a little help from Manolo Blahnik."

    She has embraced her natural color since at least 2006. Dying her hair could potentially make her appear younger, but going all gray is a trend we're seeing more of, as women opt for less upkeep and gray hair has become more socially acceptable on older women.

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    Arianna Huffington

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    Arianna Huffington. Tommaso Boddi for Getty Images

    This is a very youthful, feminine hairstyle on journalist and Huffington Post founder, Arianna Huffington (born July 15, 1950). In her interview on the wonderful blog, Into the Gloss, Huffington shares her top beauty secrets:

    • There are a lot of things that I wish I had done differently earlier. I wish I had accepted my hair earlier—I have very, very, very frizzy, curly hair. It’s straight [now], but when it goes curly, I don’t think it looks horrible anymore.
    • I get my hair blow-dried. I have someone who comes here and will do it, so I can keep working; I find it saves time. I have a phenomenal hair colorist, Louis Licari. I like how it looks now with a lot of highlights; it’s a bit more honey-ish. And we changed the part—it was going from left to right, and now it’s going from right to left. It’s funny, the day after my hair stylist did it, I walked into the office and everyone thought I had done something dramatic, and all we’d done was change the part; it completely changes your look. But now this is it. I’ve reached the end of my hair reincarnations.

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    Long, Wavy Hair: Utterly Youthful

    Jaclyn Smith hairstyles
    Jaclyn Smith hairstyles. Jason Merritt for Getty Images

    Jaclyn Smith (born Oct. 26, 1945) has hair that's thick, wavy and as long as the average 25-year-old's. How does she look so awesome at her age?

    Hair is a big part of Smith's career. She hosted seasons 1 and 2 of Shear Genius, the reality TV show about aspiring hairstylists, and she was a hair model early in her career. She has thick curly hair that tends to be dry and not too oily (it would fall flat if it was), so a good cut is key to her look.

    Smith says so herself in Woman's Day, "You must understand the texture of your hair before you choose a style. Because if not, you're going to be a slave to it, and who has time? Me, for instance, I have curly hair. With bangs and straight, long hair, I'd be blowing it out all the time."

    For her show, Shear Genius, Smith sometimes wore her curly hair straight and with bangs, but she had a styling crew for that. Most days, she wears her hair more natural. If you aren't born with a naturally thick, wavy hair texture, you will spend a lot of time trying to mimic this fullness. You can do it with the help of volumizing spray or mousse, an ionic blow dryer and a curling iron.

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    Glenn Close Hairstyles

    Glenn Close. from left: Steven Lovekin and Jason Merritt for Getty

    Glenn Close (born March 19, 1947) has naturally frizzy, curly hair. She obviously has to tame it by straightening it via blow dryer or chemicals.

    With these two hairstyles, she shows that long, side-swept bangs are not just for the under-30 set.

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    A Great Look for Naturally Curly Hair

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    Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg. Gilbert Carrasquillo for Getty Images

    One of the greatest lessons in life that many women don't learn until they have a few years behind them, is that to be truly happy, you must accept yourself for who you are.

    Now this does not mean going completely gray like some of the women in this gallery. Go ahead, color your hair if it makes you feel better. Gray hair is not for everyone. But curly hair, wavy hair, straight hair, fine hair: every hair texture out there can look good with the right haircut. So maybe it's time to stop fighting your hair's texture and embrace it. Just get the right cut.

    If you have naturally curly hair like Diane von Furstenberg (born Dec. 31, 1946), chances are you know the challenges that come with styling and caring for curly hair. There's the frizz you have to deal with the moment humidity enters the air. You know how to properly wash, condition and dry your hair (oh, hair dryer, how we wish you didn't cause so much frizz!).

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    Finola Hughes Hairstyle

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    Finola Hughes shoulder-length hair. Jason Merritt for Getty

    Finola Hughes (born Oct. 29, 1959) has a haircut that's flattering on all face shapes and hair textures. It's shoulder-length, has a few layers and is blown dry and likely flat ironed straight.

    Her hair color is rich and brown. If you are a natural brunette, you might consider coloring your own hair. Many women -- and beauty editors -- do their own hair color at home. Even trendier these days are women who go to the salon a couple times a year and do their own touch-ups at home in between.

    There are times when you should get professional help: if you have complicated hair, if you want to go from gray to auburn or if you want highlights. If you are simply trying to cover up a few grays or you want to dye your hair a couple shades lighter or darker than it is now, you can do that via a good drugstore hair dye.

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    Ellen Barkin Hairstyles

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    Ellen Barkin with short, edgy hair. Mireya Acierto & Robin Marchant/Getty Images

    Sometimes all it takes for a woman to look chic is a great haircut like this one on Ellen Barkin. Here, Barkin (born April 16, 1954) wears a short, edgy cut paired with a fabulous pair of glasses.

    To get the right shade of blonde, try highlights. Why? If you look closely at a child's hair that's never been colored, you'll notice many different shades blended together. Colorists will tell you hair that's all one shade is boring, and they are kind of right. Hair with a bit of dimension to it is much more interesting. If you have a good blonde base, you might go lighter with foil highlights or with the balayage technique. Brunettes can also get copper highlights added via balayage.

    There's no need to go overboard with all-over highlighting. A few face-framing highlights can do wonders to your complexion and will make your eyes pop.

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    Linda Fargo's Classic Bob

    Linda Fargo bob hairstyle
    Linda Fargo bob hairstyle. Cindy Ord for Getty

    Whether you go for a long bob, a mussy bob, a graduated bob or a classic bob like this one on Linda Fargo (Time Magazine calls her Bergdorf Goodman's "gatekeeper of style"), you have chosen well. Bobs just work. And they work on all face shapes and with most hair textures.

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    Camilla Parker Bowles

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    Camilla Parker Bowles. WPA Pool

    Camilla Parker Bowles (born July 17, 1947) sports a Farrah Fawcett flip that's become popular these days. Her hairstylist, Jo Hansford, said Camilla is quite lovely to work with and very funny. Hansford, who has also worked with Gwyneth Paltrow, Nigella Lawson and Angelina Jolie, said this to the UK's Telegraph about working with celebrities, "The A-listers are fine and unpretentious; it's the D- and E-listers who are nightmares."

    Hilarious!

    A session with Camilla's colorist will set you back about £500, and if you sit in her seat and you have gray hair, you might very likely end up blonde as Hansford tells the Telegraph she's not a fan of gray hair. At all. "It's just so aging! You look at people who have it and you just think: 'Seriously? Why? We all have to grow old, but we don't have to be boring. We all have to be glamorous.'"

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    Randee Heller Embraces Her Gray

    Randee Heller. Frazer Harrison for Getty Images

    While Camilla Parker Bowles's hairstylist may hate gray hair, it's actually becoming popular for women to embrace their grays, as Randee Heller (born June 10, 1947) pictured here has.

    Here are some reasons for embracing your grays:

    1. You have gorgeous gray coloring.
    2. You don't want the hassle and expense of covering up gray.
    3. You want to embrace life as it develops, wrinkles, gray hair and all.

    If you are like most women after 50, and you have some gray hair and are considering going natural, I suggest you listen to your gut. If you want to grow it out, you can do so knowing you can always color it again if it bothers you.

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    Short Hairstyles Are Great, Just Get the Right One

    Annette Bening. Frederick M. Brown // Getty Images

    I love this blonde hair color on natural brunette Annette Bening (born May 29, 1958). She has gone the blonde route rather than the brunette route, which is easier to maintain once your hair turns gray.

    While you can do your own hair, I recommend getting your hair colored professionally. You don't want your blonde color to be too light. It's best to have some contrast between your skin and your hair, otherwise you can look washed out.

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    Catherine Keener Hairstyles

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    Catherine Keener. From left: Aaron Harris and Sonia Recchia for Getty

    Who says long hair is just for young girls? Catherine Keener is in her 50s and proves long hair can look great on women of all ages. The key is that you have the right hair texture and face shape for it. Long faces and fine hair don't work well in long hair, but a square or round face paired with thick hair can look fantastic.

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    Medium-Length Hair is Very Flattering

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    Mary Steenburgen shoulder-length hair. Jon Kopaloff for Getty Images

    There's no reason to cut your hair short after a big birthday (say 60 or even 70). There are plenty of women over age 60, like Mary Steenburgen (born Feb. 8, 1953) who look gorgeous with hair that's to their shoulders or longer.

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    Anna Wintour's Classic and Famous Bob

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    Anna Wintour: 2 shots of her famous bob. From left: Mark Robert Milan and David M. Benett for Getty

    Vogue editor Anna Wintour (born Nov. 3, 1949) has had some version of this classic bob for decades. While the bob is a classic, Wintour is stylish enough to change it up a bit over the years so she and her hair don't look dated.

    While Wintour has gotten away with having the same haircut forever, not all of us can keep the same hairstyle for 20 years. It's natural to want to, because once you find something that works, you kind of like to stick with it.

    Some styles are ageless and timeless -- a shoulder-length haircut with light layers for example, or a classic bob like this one -- but many women can get stuck in a style rut wearing a cut that was fine in 1990, but just doesn't work as well today.

    It may be time to get a hair makeover.

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    Jane Fonda's Hairstyles

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    Jane Fonda's hairstyles. Bertrand Rindoff for Getty Images

    Jane Fonda (born Dec. 21, 1937) has been wearing a version of the shag hairstyle pictured above since the 2000 Oscars, according to her hairstylist Matthew Shields in the Hollywood Reporter.

    "We’ve been playing around and tweaking the style for the past two years. This new version is straighter and smoother around her neck and chin. But it still has that messy bedroom, just been you-know-what look that she loves. I used a razor to create more texture in the hair so the style has some depth," says Shields.

    Shields tells AARP that unlike other women her age, Fonda is not afraid to embrace a youthful, sexier hairstyle, which means "looser" than the heavier, coiffed looks of her peers.

    As for color, Fonda's colorist, Negin Zand, says she lightened the tips of Fonda's hair to give it dimension and "pop." She suggests older women not be afraid to go lighter, which can make them appear more youthful.

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    A Great Cut for Fine Hair

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    Deidre Hall. Michael N. Todaro for Getty Images

    There are two main things to consider when choosing a new hairstyle: your face shape and your hair texture. There are some hairstyles that will better suit both your face and your hair texture, whether it's coarse, frizzy, wavy, straight or thin.

    Deidre Hall (born Oct. 31, 1947) has straight, fine hair and this haircut is super flattering for both her hair texture and her face shape.

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    Hairstyles for Women Over Age 50: Nancy Pelosi

    Nancy Pelosi. Alex Wong

    Minority Leader of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has good hair. No matter your politics, you have to agree with that. Although she's wearing a shorter hairstyle these days, in this photo she's sporting a classic bob (see more bob hairstyles for older women here).

    According to the New York Daily News, Pelosi (born March 26, 1940) is not so great styling her own hair.

    "Nancy said that in her next life, she would like to be able to style her own hair," said Pelosi's stylist Gary Croteau to the Daily News. 

    In fact, Pelosi is so bad at styling her own hair, she gets it blow-dried and styled every weekday at George, the salon at the Four Seasons in DC, reports Roll Call. Sometimes the services extend to color and a cut.

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    Andie MacDowell Hairstyles

    Andie MacDowell. Slaven Vlasic for Getty

    Andie MacDowell has naturally long, curly hair. To keep it in perfect shape, she reportedly uses L'Oreal's EverPure Sulfate Free Color Care Smooth Shampoo and Conditioner (buy from Amazon.com) and EverSleek Sulfate Free Humidity Defying Leave-In Crème (buy from Amazon.com). Like many women with curly hair, she wears her hair long to weigh down the curls.

    When asked if she feels pressure to hide her age, MacDowell (born in 1958) was honest to Allure Magazine, "Yes, but it's unrealistic. You can look great for your age, but you're still gonna age. In this business people don't talk about much else but aging." 

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    Florence Henderson's Cool Pixie

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    Florence Henderson. Getty: Steve Granitz (l) and Jon Kopaloff (r)

    The great news is almost everyone can get away with a short hairstyle, like this wonderful pixie on actress Florence Henderson (born Feb. 14, 1934). 

    Some styles work better with certain face shapes and hair textures. For example, your haircut should give you the illusion of having an oval face shape. So if you have a round face you'll want to elongate it, just as someone with a square face would want to soften their jawline and someone with a long face would want to make their face appear wider.

    This look on Florence Henderson isn't dowdy, flatters her face shape and brings attention to her beautiful eyes.

    In "How to Tell if You'd Look Good With Short Hair," review nine tips to find your best short hairstyles. 

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    Denise Welch's Platinum Pixie Paired With Red Lips

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    Karwai Tang (l) and Max Mumby/Indigo (r) for Getty Images

    Denise Welch (born May 22, 1958) shows off two lovely versions of short hairstyles here. The platinum color paired with red lips works well.

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    A Great Hairstyle for Michelle Pfeiffer

    Michelle Pfeiffer. Jesse Grant for Getty Images

    We love this hairstyle on Michelle Pfeiffer (born April 29, 1958). It's included in gallery, "The Best Medium Length Hairstyles for Women Over 50."

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    Kate Mulgrew's Hairstyle Flatters Her Round Face

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    Kate Mulgrew. Getty: Alberto E. Rodriguez (l) and Frazer Harrison (r)

    This hairstyle on actress Kate Mulgrew (born April 29, 1955) adds height to the top and sides of her head. Just lovely.

    Find out why this hairstyle works with her round face shape in gallery "The Best Short Hairstyles for Round Face Shapes."

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    Diane Keaton's Cool Glasses and Long Bob

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    Diane Keaton in two different shoulder length haircuts. Andreas Rentz for Getty

    This long bob works on Diane Keaton (born Jan. 5, 1946) because it doesn't compete with her funky wardrobe and her edgy glasses. It's simple, flattering and no-nonsense. An edgier cut would overwhelm her.

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    Why Shoulder-Length Hair Is Great for Older Women

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    LWA/Larry Williams

    Medium length is great for women over 50 because it's still stylish and sexy but not so long you'll look like you're trying to be 25 again. 

    In fact, it's a favorite length on women of all ages because you simply can't go wrong with a cut that falls somewhere between the chin and a few inches below the shoulders. 

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    Does Gray Hair Age You?

    Angela Rippon in gray hair and colored hair. Getty Images

    Check out this image of British actress Angela Rippon. In the left picture, her hair is gray. In the right, it's tinted a reddish blonde.

    In which picture does she appear younger?

    Although letting your gray hair grow out is becoming a trend, gray hair can be aging. The picture on the left makes Rippon appear older than in the picture on the right.

    The picture on the left was taken in 2012. The picture on the right? 2015.

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    The Gorgeous Red Hair on Frances Fisher

    Frances Fisher. Michael Bezjian for Getty

    Actress Frances Fisher (born May 11, 1952) is known for her gorgeous red hair. She's a natural strawberry blonde so this is not her real hair color. 

    Almost everyone can go red. What's most important is finding the right shade of red. If you are considering dyeing your hair red, get a professional consultation. 

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    Elizabeth McGovern

    Elizabeth McGovern. Getty Images

    Elizabeth McGovern (born July 18, 1961) is best known for her role on "Downton Abbey." Her hairstyles here are lovely. She works with her naturally wavy hair and isn't afraid to part her hair sometimes on the left, sometimes on the right.

    Her shade of brunette is gorgeous. 

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    Tippi Hedren

    Tippi Hedren. Photo by Lilly Lawrence/WireImage

    When it comes to hair, Tippi Hedren (born Jan. 19, 1930), is famous for her hairstyle in the Alfred Hitchcock film, "The Birds." Turns out, she still has a great head of hair.

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    Melita Toscan du Plantier

    Melita Toscan du Plantier. Venturelli for Getty

    Both the color and the cut on this pixie on Melita Toscan du Plantier are spectacular.

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    Eileen Fisher

    Eileen Fisher. Paul Zimmerman for Getty

    Eileen Fisher (born June 6, 1950) is a clothes designer and her hairstyle fits her relaxed, casual-but-chic aesthetic.

    This is a classic straight bob but note how there's subtle layering to give her hair body and movement. Also note how Fisher lets her natural gray hair grow without coloring it.

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    Sharon Osbourne

    Sharon Osbourne. Getty Images

    Sharon Osbourne (born October 1952) looks gorgeous here in her trademark red pixie.
     

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    Mary Berry

    Mary Berry. Getty Images

     Mary Berry (born March 24 1935) sports a classic bob.
     

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    Lin Shaye

    Actress Lin Shaye. Photo by Barry King/Getty Images

    Actress Lin Shaye (born October 12, 1943) has a gorgeous shag haircut and blonde hair color.