Which Haircuts Look Best on Older Women?

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I Pick the Best Short, Medium and Long Hairstyles for Women Over 50

Kate Capshaw. Getty: Gary Gershoff, Chance Yeh, Jim Spellman

In this gallery of haircuts that look best on older women, I share photos of gorgeous women over age 50 and tell you why their haircuts work on them. You'll see pixies, shags, bobs, shoulder-length hairstyles and even some long ones.

Here, Kate Capshaw, wife of Steven Spielberg, looks years younger than she is (she was born November 3, 1953, so you can do the math). Capshaw lives in California, summers in the Hamptons and is married to a movie mogul, so you can bet she gets some help because she looks 55 or so here, not 62. While you may not be able to afford her plastic surgery work -- remember: I'm only assuming, I have no proof -- or her dermatological visits, or even her own personal hair salon in her house (you can read about that here), you can take this photo into your hair salon and get a version of her super flattering hairstyle yourself.

Here's why this hairstyle works on Capshaw:

  1. This haircut works best on women with naturally straight, somewhat thick hair. If you have fine hair, it will look great, too, perhaps not quite as thick. And if your hair is too heavy, you can have your stylist lighten it up using a razor. But don't go too heavy on the layering, too many layers can make a hairstyle look dated.
  2. Capshaw actually has naturally curly hair. So her hair here has either been straightened chemically or via a flat iron. Whatever she did, it looks great.
  3. The length is perfect -- not too long and not too short. Find out why shoulder-length hair is the most flattering hair length on everyone in This Haircut Looks Great on Almost Every Face Shape.

I also love Capshaw's color. If you have light hair already and a good blonde base, you can get highlights around the face using the balayage technique.

More great stuff:

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Kate Capshaw With Short Hair

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Kate Capshaw. Getty Images

Here are a few other images of Kate Capshaw with shorter hair. This hairstyle is youthful, fresh and stylish.

While it's a beauty myth that women over 60 must wear their hair short, the real marker for whether you should be wearing your hair short is whether it would be flattering to your face shape and hair texture.

This look works best on women with naturally straight, somewhat thick hair. The bangs are really flattering as well, but do require upkeep. You'll need to get them trimmed every 4-6 weeks or learn to do them yourself.

Like Kate's look? Check out these articles...

  1. The Best Short Hairstyles for Older Women
  2. My Favorite Bob Hairstyles for Older Women
  3. 10 Things Every Woman Should Know About Hair Texture

Still want more? I have an entire section devoted to Beauty Tips for Women Over Age 50.

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Nancy Pelosi Hair

Nancy Pelosi hairstyles
Nancy Pelosi. Andrew H. Walker

I love this classic bob on Nancy Pelosi. The bob is so popular right now I made it the top hairstyle on my list of the Year's Trendiest Hairstyles.

So what's the best bob for you? Whether you go for a long bob, a mussy bob, a graduated bob or a classic bob like this one on Nancy Pelosi, you have chosen well. Bobs just work. And they work on all face shapes and with most hair textures.

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Jane Fonda's Short Hair

Jane Fonda's hairstyles
Jane Fonda. From left: Pascal Le Segretain and Jason Merritt for Getty Images

This cut on Jane Fonda is a classic Fonda hairstyle. It's full of layers and looks fantastic on her.

More on short hair:

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Catherine Deneuve Hairstyles

Actress Catherine Deneuve. Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Catherine Deneuve (born October 22, 1943) is another great example of a woman unafraid to grow her hair below her shoulders. She looks fantastic.

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

More on this look:

Deneuve is in her 70s. Get inspired by this gallery of Great Haircuts for Women in Their 70s & 80s.

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Diane Sawyer

Diane Sawyer has naturally brown hair, but colors her hair blonde
Diane Sawyer. Mike Coppola for Getty

Few women have naturally blonde hair like Diane Sawyer's here. Unless you are Swedish or Scandinavian, you will likely have to color your hair to get it perfectly buttery blonde. Sawyer (born December 22, 1945) actually has naturally brown hair and got her big break in television news when she colored her hair blonde many years ago.

Thinking of going blonde? Find out if you'd look good with blonde hair (chances are you would) in Blonde Hair Color Tips & Tricks.

Like this? You'll love these must-reads for older women:

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Wendy Davis Hair

State Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Ft. Worth) contemplates her 13-hour filibuster. Erich Schlegel for Getty Images News

She was a single mom at age 19 who later graduated from Harvard Law School with honors and then became a state senator in Texas, but what made Wendy Davis famous across America was her almost 13-hour filibuster in the Texas state house back in June 2013. She stood in pink tennis shoes (without a drink or a bathroom break!) to oppose a bill that would potentially shut down many, if not most, of the abortion clinics in Texas.

And what some of my Facebook friends wanted to know is: how can they get Wendy Davis's hair? Her blonde, shoulder-length hairstyle stayed in perfect place for the 12-plus hours she paced the floor, talking about abortion rights.

The key to Sen. Davis's hairstyle is in her hair texture and in the cut. She has super thick, naturally straight hair with a bit of wave in it. Fine hair cut into this style (long layers with long, side-swept bangs) would look good, but might fall flat. You'd need to add body in the form of mousses or sprays to get that body and you might consider cutting hair a bit shorter so it wouldn't fall flat. Hair with more wave or curl would have to be wrangled in (that's the Texas in me -- "wrangled") with a hair dryer and a round brush. If you have curly hair, forget about it. Unless you want to get your hair chemically straightened.

Don't miss:

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Olivia Newton John's Long Bob

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Paul Archuleta for Getty Images

This is the perfect haircut for Olivia Newton John's hair texture. She has fine, straight hair and a lot of it. The key to a long bob, which looks great on women of all ages, is to have the hair in the back an inch or more shorter than the front so it angles forward. Also, make sure your stylist doesn't cut in too many layers, which can ruin this look. Choppy is good, however.

More must-reads:

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Sharon Lawrence

Sharon Lawrence hairstyles
Sharon Lawrence hairstyles. Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Sharon Lawrence is a great example of a woman who looks much younger with longer hair. She's in her early 50s (she was born in 1961) yet she looked quite a bit older when she wore her hair above her chin. Now that she's grown her hair longer and lightened it up from the auburn it used to be, she looks more her age.

Note the layers cut into her hair and the lighter colors around the face. That's the secret to a youthful hair cut and color.

Like this? You'll love these must-reads for older women:

  1. Best haircuts for women in their 50s
  2. The Best Medium Length Hairstyles for Women Over 50
  3. 25 makeup tips for older women
  4. Is your hairstyle aging you?
  5. Most flattering haircuts by face shape

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A Great Short Hairstyle if Your Hair is Thick and Wavy

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Getty Images

Who says you can't wear your hair short if it's curly and thick? This photo shows you can have a gorgeous cut.

I share a ton of curly hair tips and photos in this slideshow: The Best Curly Hairstyles for Women Over 50. If you have curly hair, it's a don't miss.

More on this look:

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It Takes Guts to Pull of an Edgy Short Cut

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Liam Norris for Getty Images

I love this haircut on this woman because she looks classy, edgy, cool and sophisticated all because of how she pulls off her haircut. I also love her outfit and the large, over-sized sunglasses.

Not all super short hairstyles come off as chic as this pixie hairstyle, which is very boyish, Mia Farrow-esque, and just perfect. I especially love how her hair is platinum white.

This mussy style 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.'"

More on this look:

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Ellen Burstyn

Ellen Burstyn. Alberto E. Rodriguez // Getty Images

Like this? You'll love this must-read for older women:

10 Hairstyles That Make You Look 10 Years Younger

Still want more? I have an entire section devoted to Beauty Tips for Women Over Age 50.

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Lauren Hutton

Lauren Hutton. Antonio de Moraes Barros for Getty

Like this? You'll love these must-reads for older women:

Still want more? I have an entire section devoted to Beauty Tips for Women Over Age 50.

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Susan Lucci

Susan Lucci. Robin Marchant for Getty Images

Loved this? Don't miss my other beauty tips for older women including:

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Helen Mirren

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Long bangs on a short haircut. Jim Spellman for Getty Images

Helen Mirren (born July 26, 1945) never goes out without a great haircut. I know this because I've looked through years of photos of her for these photo galleries. Her cuts are so flattering, I've included several of them in my photo galleries. She even wore her hair pink once. Yes, pink. Check it out here.

You may not believe this (I'm not sure I do) but Mirren claims she 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."

I have a feeling this cut on Mirren is a professional one. I love this cut in particular because it's super flattering. Mirren has an oval face shape, that's could also be considered long, so she looks best in hairstyles that aren't too long and that add a bit of width to the sides of her face, as this one does. Not everyone needs to worry about face shape (see Does Your Face Shape Really Matter?) but it can be helpful to know yours.

Back to this great haircut. Note the long, side-swept bangs which fall to Mirren's cheeks. When getting a haircut with layers, such as this one, make sure the layers are long. Short layers can make your hairstyle look dated.

More on this look:

Mirren is in her 60s. Get inspired by this gallery of Great Haircuts for Women in Their 60s.

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Diane Sawyer Hairstyles

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Diane Sawyer. Desiree Navarro for Getty Images

Sometimes all it takes for a woman to look chic is a great haircut like this Diane Sawyer hairstyle. Here, Diane Sawyer (December 22, 1945) shows off a crisp white shirt and maybe a great accessory like fabulous glasses. Diane Sawyer is an ageless classic. I love her hair here.

Sawyer actually has naturally dark, graying hair, but she colors it blonde. I've seen many variations of blonde on Sawyer, but this is one of her most recent pictures.

To get the right shade of blonde, I recommend 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, which is what I've used for years on my own hair (read about it here). 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.

More on this look:

Sawyer is in her 60s. Get inspired by this gallery of Great Haircuts for Women in Their 60s.

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Carmen Lomana

Carmen Lomana. Photo by Pablo Cuadra/Getty Images

Loved this? Don't miss my other beauty tips for older women including:

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Gloria Steinem

Gloria Steinem. Frederick M. Brown

Loved this? Don't miss my other beauty tips for older women including:

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Lisa Lampanelli

Lisa Lampanelli. Getty Images

I absolutely LOVE these hairstyles on comedian Lisa Lampanelli.

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Paulina Porizkova

Paulina Porizkova. Paulina Porizkova attends the 2015 DreamBall at Cipriani 42nd Street on September 24, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Pont/WireImage)

Paulina Porizkova (born April 9, 1965) looks incredible in this shoulder-length hairstyle. Loved this? Don't miss my other beauty tips for older women including:

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Cecille Richards

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Cecile Richards. Desiree Navarro, Paul Morigi for Getty

Loved this? Don't miss my other beauty tips for older women including:

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Helen Mirren

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Helen Mirren. Photos: Getty Images, 2nd one by Frazer Harrison

Helen Mirren tells the Daily Mail in the UK that she counts on good sleep and exercise to keep her looking young.

Her thoughts on exercise: "I do do it, but honestly, it's not particularly a beauty thing, it's just that as one gets older, one has to keep up one's energy levels, and if you want to do that, you can't stop exercising. But you know, we can't actually stay young, and it's ridiculous to pretend we can.

The reality is that life goes on - tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock! I call it growing up and, to me, it doesn't make much difference whether I'm 63 and three quarters, or 64 and a half. You know? You just carry on, and hopefully you get more sensible as you get older, which is all that really interests me."

Read the full interview.

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Emma Thompson

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Emma Thompson. Karwai Tang and Tristan Fewings for Getty

Loved this? Don't miss my other beauty tips for older women including:

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Linda Rodin

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Linda Rodin. Mireya Acierto for Getty Images

Loved this? Don't miss my other beauty tips for older women including:

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Donna Mills; Hoda Kotb

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Astrid Stawiarz for Getty. Donna Mills; Hoda Kotb

Donna Mills (1940) and Hoda Kotb (1964) both have stunning hairstyles in this photo. Can you believe Mills is in her mid-70s?

Like this? You'll love these must-reads for older women:

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Donna Mills

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Donna Mills. Alberto E. Rodriguez for Getty

Like this? You'll love these must-reads for older women:

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Rita Wilson

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Rita Wilson. Paul Morigi for Getty

Just because you're a certain age, you don't have to wear your hair short. It's a myth that the moment you turn 50 (or whatever you've heard) you must chop your hair short. There are plenty of women over age 50, like Rita Wilson (born October 26, 1956) who look gorgeous with hair that's to their shoulders or longer.

No matter your age, your hairstyle should flatter your face and your figure. If you have a round or square face, you may look better with hair that's longer (see The Most Flattering Styles By Face Shape for more on this). Women with long face generally look better with shorter hairstyles, but shorter can mean hair that's to the shoulders, a gorgeous long bob like these.

You also have to consider your hair texture. It's true that many women with fine, thin hair look better with hair that's above their shoulders with a few layers cut in. But women with thick, curly hair may actually look better with longer hair, because longer hair will weigh down the curl.

Like this? You'll love these must-reads for older women:

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Angela Bassett

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Angela Bassett. Rich Polk, Jesse Grant // Getty

Like this? You'll love these must-reads for older women:

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Joanna Coles; Mika Brzezinski

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Joanna Coles; Mika Brzezinski. Larry Busacca for Getty

Many older women with graying hair opt to go blonde instead of dark. Blonde hair tends to blend in better with the grays as they grow in. Dark hair can emphasize the lines on your face, according to stylist Brad Johns in Charla Krupp's book, "How Not to Look Old." If you have gone all gray, consider becoming a blonde rather than a brunette as Joanna Coles and Mike Brzezinski do here.

More on this look:

These women are in their 50s. Get inspired by this gallery of Haircuts for Women in Their 50s.

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Catherine Keener

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Catherine Keener. Cindy Ord for Getty

As long as your hair is healthy, like Catherine Keener's (born March 23, 1959) pictured here, you can grow your hair long and look fantastic.

You may decide to experiment with color. A lighter color such as light brown or blonde can take years off your face. Keener usually wears her hair dark chestnut brown, pictured to the right, but for a few rare weeks in winter 2012 she went blondish (pictured left). I like them both, but I do think the dark color makes her stand out more. It's richer, sexier somehow. If you do want to keep your hair dark, you can add a few lighter highlights around the face. Hair that's multi-dimensional -- meaning has more than one color -- looks much more natural.

More on this cut:

Keener is in her 50s. Get inspired by this gallery of Haircuts for Women in Their 50s.

Like this? You'll love these must-reads for older women:

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Julia Louis-Dreyfus

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Jeff Kravitz for Getty

I love this hairstyle on Julia Louis-Dreyfus (born January 13, 1961). The center part is youthful and perfect for a square or round face (stay away from a center part if your face is long, center parts lengthen a face. You're better off with a side part).

Don't miss Curly Hair: 10 Secrets to Styling Natural Curls.


 

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Lisa Vanderpump

Lisa Vanderpump. D Dipasupil for Getty Images

Love her or hate her and the Real Housewives Bravo TV franchise, but Lisa Vanderpump (she of the Beverly Hill Real Housewives) has great hair. Sometimes she even dyes a few strands her favorite color pink.

Vanderpump was born September 15, 1960.

Like this? You'll love these must-reads for older women:

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Juliette Binoche

Juliette Binoche. Getty Images

Frenchwoman Juliette Binoche (born March 9, 1964) looks fantastic in long hair, short hair and pulled back here. Pictured here are her latest hairstyles. She hasn't worn long hair in years.

Don't miss of my gallery 3 Hair Lengths, One Woman: Which Suits Her Best?
 

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Leeza Gibbons

Leeza Gibbons. Steve Granitz for Getty

Leeza Gibbons (born March 26, 1957) has a classic shaggy hairstyle with side-swept bangs and long layers cut in. Note that her hair falls just at the shoulders.

Don't miss: The Best Medium Length Hairstyles for Women Over 50
 

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Megan Mullally

Megan Mullally. Getty Images

What an adorable hairstyle on actress Megan Mullally (born November 12, 1958). She wears her natural brunette hair dyed red.

Don't miss:

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Suzanne Krajewski

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Suzanne Krajewski.

Suzanne Krajewski is the wife of "Weird Al" Yankovic. I love how she wears her hair naturally gray.

Don't miss Gray Hair: 19 Photos to Inspire You Not to Color Yours.

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Love this? There's More!

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Taxi for Getty

As the beauty guru for older women, Charla Krupp, said in her book, "How Not to Look Old," an easy way to take 20 years off your look is to invest in trendy, modern frames for your glasses. (See my slideshow highlighting the Best Glasses for Older Women).

More on this look:

Don't miss my other beauty tips for older women including: