Gorgeous Shoulder-Length Haircuts for Women Over 50

Updated 03/21/19
01 of 25

Shoulder-Length Works for Everyone

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

Medium-length hair is the perfect length. It's a graceful look, including for anyone who's over 50. You can't really go wrong with a cut that falls somewhere between the chin and a few inches below the shoulders. The length works for anyone, no matter their age, hair texture, or face shape. What's more, it's a super popular length and never goes out of style. It's still long enough to be considered stylish and 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 three things:

  1. Your hair texture. Whether you have curly, fine, coarse, frizzy, straight, or just plain finicky hair, there will be a medium cut that works for you.
  2. Your face shape. The same goes for face shape. Some cuts flatter some face shapes better than others.
  3. Your personality/lifestyle. Whether you consider yourself edgy, laid-back, hip, sophisticated, classic, or trendy, there will be a shoulder-length cut for you and your type of life.

The most flattering hairstyles include long bobs, shaggy styles, wavy hair, and pin straight cuts. We'll also show you how bangs can take years off a face and why layers can both lighten thick hair and add loads of body to fine hair.

Diane Keaton's Style

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.

02 of 25

Add Body to Thinning Hair

Raquel Welch and her lustrous hair
Jason LaVeris / Getty Images

As we age, our hair loses some of its body. 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. Blow dry with a diffuser, or scrunch it dry to create body.

Raquel Welch may have been in her 70s when these photos were taken, but her lustrous, voluminous hair defies age. The bright highlights certainly don't detract from her youthful looks either.

03 of 25

Proper Layering is Key

shoulder-length-hair.jpg
Image Source for Getty

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 may end up with a mullet—a heavy top and straggly, anemic ends. Layers should be cut in the front, to frame the face. 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 dated look.

04 of 25

Color Gives Hair Body

Jessica Lange
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / Contributor

Getting your hair colored adds tons of body. It's not just a result of aesthetics—hair color actually plumps up the hair's cuticles, plumping them up. Jessica Lange colors her graying hair a gorgeous blonde, which is a great choice because any grays that grow in blend into the lighter color.

05 of 25

Embrace the Grays

Dame Helen Mirren wearing a choker looking like the goddess we all know she is
Jim Spellman / Getty Images

As aging is normal, people should embrace their naturally gray or silver hair. Dame Helen Mirren is legendary for it. It's a gorgeous color and natural gray is a hue that many younger people are trying to emulate through bleaching and dyes.

If you're thinking about going gray, here are some things to consider:

  1. If you think your natural gray or silver hair is gorgeous, then go for it. Not all gray hair is necessarily flattering to all skin tones, and you may want to adjust your makeup accordingly.
  2. If you don't want the hassle and expense of covering up gray, letting it go could be a perfect option.
  3. For people who want to embrace life as it develops, wrinkles, gray hair, and all, going natural is, well, just natural.

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.

06 of 25

Covering Up Grays

Deirdre Hall
Matt Winkelmeyer / Staff

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, according to stylist Brad Johns in Krupp's book. 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.

07 of 25

Stay Dark

Finola Hughes with dark brown hair
Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

Blonde hair, however, 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 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 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.

08 of 25

Embrace Your Natural Hair Texture

Oprah Winfrey speaking at a conference with natural hair
J. Countess/Getty Images

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—straightening curls and curling straight hair—but it's become trendy to embrace your natural hair texture.

It's 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 as well as proper shampooing and conditioner can really make a difference.

09 of 25

Embracing Your Waves

Drew Barrymore arriving at Beautycon
Steve Granitz/Getty Images

Many women have a wavy hair texture. If yours is also naturally thick, down to your shoulder is a spectacular length. Any shorter and it would pouf out. Any longer, and it can draw down a rounder face, potentially making someone look older than they are.

10 of 25

Straight Hair Can be a Challenge

Meryl Streep in a gorgeous blue dress
Raymond Hall/Getty Images

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.

11 of 25

Bangs as Anti-Aging

Mary Steenburgen
Amanda Edwards / Contributor

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 gets 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 to keep up the look.

12 of 25

Show off Your Eyes With Bangs

Glenn Close
Frazer Harrison / Staff / Getty Images

Glen Close has beautiful eyes, and her long, side-sweeping bangs highlight them perfectly. 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, such as a high forehead or a few wrinkles. You have a choice when it comes to bangs. If the side-sweep isn't right for you, consider fringe bangs, or have your stylist cut layers that start at the eye.

13 of 25

Handling Frizzy Hair

Blythe Danner
Rich Polk / Stringer/Getty Images

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.

14 of 25

The Short and Long of It

Kelly Lynch
From left: Frederick M. Brown and Joe Scarnici for Getty

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.

15 of 25

Bring Out the Curling Iron

Eliana Miglio
Vittorio Zunino Celotto / Staff/Getty Images

To add some sexiness and dress up straight hair, bring out your curling iron. Curl hair away from your face by winding it around the barrel of the curling iron. Leave the ends out for a more modern, fresh look.

16 of 25

The Mussy Shag

Kate Capshaw
Toby Canhan / Stringer/Getty Images

The shaggy look of this haircut on Kate Capshaw makes her look much younger than she is. It's due, in part, to the rather youthful cut. The shag is achieved through proper layering. Make sure your stylist keeps the ends textured and chunky.

17 of 25

The Wavy Long Bob

Ellen Barkin
Donna Ward for Getty

The shoulder-length wavy bob is very trendy 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.

18 of 25

Go Edgy (If You're Edgy)

Carine Roitfeld
Jim Spellman / Contributor

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.

19 of 25

The Long Bob Rules

Carla Zampatti
Caroline McCredie / Stringer /Getty Images

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.

20 of 25

A Gorgeous Wavy Cut

Jaclyn Smith
Paul Archuleta / Contributor

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.

21 of 25

A Youthful Cut

Michelle Pfeiffer
Dominique Charriau / Contributor

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.

22 of 25

The Classic Flip

Camillia Duchess of Cornwall
Leon Neal / Staff

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.

23 of 25

Long Natural Curls

Julia Louis Dreyfus
Michael Tran / Contributor/Getty Images

This is a great way to show off natural curls without them looking frizzy and unkempt. Julia Louis-Dreyfus has kept her hair long over the years, and though she has gone straight, she often goes with her natural curls. 

24 of 25

The Wavy Lob

Angela Bassett
Tibrina Hobson / Contributor

Angela Basset has a very fun wavy lob (long bob) that is a great length for women with hair types other than 1A. It has a beautiful texture and the layers give it a wilder look that's just a little easier to keep up with.

25 of 25

The Standard Bob, But Shoulder-Length

Lorraine Toussaint
Stefanie Keenan / Contributor /Getty Images

Lorraine Toussaint shows off a much sleeker version of the shoulder-length 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 things like flat irons and relaxers, but if you want to have it, it's possible.

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