A Primer on Medium-Length Hair
Medium-length hair is the perfect length for anyone who's over 50. No matter your face shape, you can't really go wrong with a cut that falls somewhere between the chin and a few inches below the shoulders. It's super popular, and it never goes out of style. What's more is that it's still long enough to be considered sexy, but not so long that you'll look like you're trying to be 25 again.
Finding the perfect shoulder-length cut for you depends on your hair texture, your face shape, and your lifestyle—but when all three are taken into account you can come out with a wonderful hairstyle that will make you feel like yourself. The most flattering medium styles include long bobs, shaggy styles, wavy hair, and pin straight cuts. Bangs can take years off a face, and layers can both lighten thick hair and add loads of body to fine hair. There are plenty of ways to go with a medium-length haircut.
The Classic Lob
This haircut works on Diane Keaton because it doesn't compete with her funky wardrobe. It's simple, flattering and no-nonsense. An edgier cut would overwhelm her. It's a perfect example of the haircut fitting a woman's personality.
Keep in mind that Keaton always sports some pretty amazing glasses. If you wear glasses, you can use them to play up your style. It's a fashion accessory that not everyone has, so make the most of it and explore your options to find a fit that matches your personal style.
The Wavy Layered Bob
As people age, their hair naturally loses some of its body, which can leave it looking a little...lifeless. To get some volume back in fine, thinning hair, you'll want to have layers cut in, then use a volumizing mousse or spray to style it. Be sure to add product to the roots and at the crown, but never on top of your hair, because that'll only weigh it down. Blow dry it with a diffuser, or even just scrunch it dry to create body.
Raquel Welch may have been in her 70s when this photo was taken, but her lustrous, voluminous hair works for any age. Plus, the bright highlights give her a youthful glow she might not have had otherwise.
The Lightly Layered Cut
The key to a great medium-length cut lies in the layering. One-length hair is great for hair that's not too coarse and not too thin, but it won't work for everyone. Long layers add body to flat hair, texture to thick hair, and control to curly hair. Be careful not to layer too much in the back. Too many layers, and you could just end up with a mullet you're not going for. Layers should be cut in the front in order to frame the face. But if you have short hair, don't let your stylist cut layers above the eye. If you have long hair, don't allow layers above your earlobe, or you risk a semi-dated look.
The Wavy Bob
Getting your hair colored adds tons of body. It's not just a result of aesthetics—hair color actually swells up the hair's cuticles. Jessica Lange typically colors her graying hair a gorgeous blonde, which is a great choice for anyone over 50. The grays that grow in blend into the lighter color.
The Wavy Short Bob
Aging isn't something to be ashamed of, and more people than ever are embracing their naturally gray or silver hair. Dame Helen Mirren is legendary for it. Natural gray is a gorgeous hue that even younger people are trying to emulate through bleaching and dyes.
If you're thinking about going gray, there are some things to consider. First off, not all gray hair is necessarily flattering to everyone, so you may want to adjust your shade of grey (and makeup) accordingly. However, if you don't want the hassle and expense, just letting it go could be a perfect option. For people who want to embrace life as it develops, wrinkles, gray hair, and all, going natural can be fulfilling and affirming. So if you have some gray hair and you're considering going natural, listen to your gut. If you want to grow it out, you can do so knowing that you can always color it whenever you like.
The Layered Shoulder-Length Cut
Don't feel obligated, though, to embrace your natural hair color. Many older people with graying hair opt to go blonde, instead of dark. Dark hair can emphasize the lines on your face, and some people don't want that. If you have gone all gray, consider becoming a blonde rather than a brunette, as actress Deidre Hall does here. You'll have to update your roots less often.
While you can do your own hair, it may be best to get your hair colored professionally. You don't want your color to be too light. It's best to have some contrast between your skin and your hair. Otherwise, you could look washed out.
The Side-Parted Lob
Blonde hair, to be fair, doesn't complement all skin tones, and you shouldn't feel forced into it. A better bet for naturally dark-haired women like Finola Hughes is to color your hair a dark base and get lighter highlights. 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're only 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 with a good drugstore hair dye. Another great resource is Madison Reed's line of products. Be sure to choose a permanent dye because it works better on grays than the semi-permanent options.
The Natural Bob
Oprah has worn many styles over the years, but lately, she's been wearing it natural. For years, many women fought their natural hair texture—instead opting to straighten their curls—but it's become more accepted to embrace your natural hair texture.
It's also much easier on your hair. Once you ditch the chemicals and excessive heat, you'll find that your hair is much healthier. The trick is learning how to work with the texture you were born with. If you have naturally curly hair, chances are you know the challenges that come with styling and caring for it. Learning how to tame frizz on humid days along with proper shampooing and conditioner can really make a difference.
The Single-Length Side Part
If you have straight hair that requires very little upkeep, and you're low-maintenance, then a single-length side part is a great classic hairstyle. Pictured here on the radiant Meryl Streep, the side part adds volume to thinner hair, and it can be styled with a center part for face-framing elegance.
The Wavy Lob With Bangs
If you don't have bangs, consider getting them. Long, thick bangs swept to the side can visually take years off your look. They bring attention to your eyes and keep attention off your neckline, which can get saggy even on people with the best plastic surgery. Bangs can be high-maintenance, though. You have to get them cut every few weeks, or at least learn how to trim them at home.
The Flip With Side-Swept Bangs
Glenn Close has beautiful eyes, which are highlighted by her long, side-sweeping bangs. The angle draws attention to her eyes, and they work with both wavy and curlier hair at this length. Bangs can also camouflage some of your less than flattering features, like a high forehead or a few wrinkles. You have plenty of choices when it comes to bangs, too. If the side-sweep isn't right for you, consider fringe bangs, or have your stylist cut layers that start at the eye.
The Textured Lob
Blythe Danner has thick, wavy hair. The kind that can get frizzy. Sure, you can fight it as much as you want, but you can also just go with it. This hairstyle is gorgeous on her because it shows off the amount of hair she has, which is a lot. If you have thick hair, show it off! Grow it out and fluff it up.
The Blunt Lob (Long Bob)
Kelly Lynch offers an example of hair that looks much better shorter than it did long. While it's a myth that you can't wear long hair after a certain age, cutting off a few inches can make a big difference.
Bob hairstyles are a chic choice for older women because they tend to look good on all face shapes. Anyone with a nice jawline and neck will look good in a bob. If you are classic and clean, consider yourself to be sophisticated, a bob may be great for you. Bobs usually require a blow dryer and sometimes a flat iron to achieve the sleek look, though. If you don't pay much attention to your hair, consider if you'll be able to maintain your bob—including the trims you'll need every six weeks or so.
The Wavy Long Bob
The shoulder-length wavy bob is popular among women half Ellen Barkin's age, and it looks great on her, too. Her bright blonde color contrasts her darker features. The waves have that sexy beach look that will always be popular. It all comes together perfectly, because it's modern and sophisticated at the same time.
The True Shag
A hairstyle must fit your personality type. For example, if you are laid-back and sporty, you might consider a haircut that won't take a lot of time to perfect. Or better yet, opt for a style that's wash and go. If you're classic and sophisticated, consider a long bob that's blown out to perfection.
Carine Roitfeld shows off an edgy shag that matches her status: trendy, edgy, and cool. As the former editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, Roitfeld manages to wear a cut that epitomizes the trends she worked with.
This long bob on fashion designer Carla Zampatti is a favorite because it defies age. Zampatti's hair is thick, has a beautiful sheen and color and is very flattering on her face shape. The long bob works with all face shapes, but if you have curly hair, you'll have to straighten it to get this particular effect.
The Wavy Cut With Sideswept Bangs
Jaclyn Smith looks so young here it's hard to believe she's almost in her 70s. Her hair is as thick and wavy and as long as the average 25-year-old's. It's largely because hair is a big part of Smith's career. She hosted the first two seasons 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 the key to her look.
The Voluminous Shoulder-Length Cut
Volume in hair is key. Flat, lifeless hair is something you might battle as you age. The secret to voluminous hair lies in a good cut and great styling (styling sprays, curling irons, etc). Here, Michelle Pfeiffer shows off gorgeous hair that's a bit longer and full of volume. Keep in mind it's harder to keep volume in long hair. The shorter you go, the better your hair will be at holding its shape.
The Classic Flip
Camilla Parker Bowles sports a Farrah Fawcett flip that admittedly won't work for everyone, but looks beautiful on her. What works for you, may not on someone else, and vice versa. You have to find your best cut. You can do that with the help of a knowledgeable stylist, a dear friend, or just by trusting your gut and opting for a hairstyle that you love, no matter what the naysayers may say.
The Standard Bob
Lorraine Toussaint shows off a slightly-longer bob. Taking the classic bob down an inch or two can, elongate your face and that inner curl at the bottom draws the eye right back to her face. Getting your hair this straight and smooth will require some help from a flat iron or even a relaxer, but if you want to have it, it's possible.