There's no age limit on a haircut. Anyone, of any age, can and should wear their hair however they please. With that being said, it's common for women over 40 to commit to a shorter haircut. Why is that? Hair is personal and unique, so it's probably different for everybody. However, we have a few theories.
Our first theory is that short hair often translates to less time spent shampooing, conditioning, drying, and styling. It means less weight, less static, and less flyaways—and often less product. It might even mean less damage. Aside from the time and effort factor, there's just something emotionally freeing about chopping off your hair. For many women, this means rebelling against a false perception that long hair is somehow more feminine or more youthful. In fact, just to prove how beautiful short hair can be, we consulted Adir Abergel, hairstylist to the stars, to round up the best celeb-inspired short haircuts replete with expert-approved styling tips.
From Victoria Beckham to Jada Pinkett Smith, keep scrolling to see our 25 favorite short haircuts for women over 40.
Meet the Expert
Adir Abergel is a celebrity stylist and creative director at Virtue®. His A-list clients include Charlize Theron, Rooney Mara, and Kristen Stewart, among others.
Salma Hayek transformed her look when she traded in her signature dark tresses for this long, blonde bob. The lighter color works to brighten her complexion and adds an air of youthfulness while the collar-bone grazing length is super flattering. If you're considering going lighter, we've gathered our favorite blonde-haired looks for inspiration.
"This cut is classic yet modern and one of the lowest maintenance cuts to style daily," says Abergel. He adds, "To maintain the shape of this haircut, you should get a haircut as often as every four weeks. To style daily, if you have naturally straight hair, it’s as simple as applying a bit of product throughout that will create a smooth, tucked away finish. For hair with texture, it may require a bit of heat styling but should take no more than five to 10 minutes. I recommend running a bit of Virtue Labs Un-Frizz Cream ($20) in before you blow-dry for a smooth, polished end result."
Curly Bob With Bangs
Tia Mowry showed off her gorgeous natural hair in a selfie she posted to Instagram. In the caption, she explains that it's the first time she's wearing her natural hair on TV since the days of Sister Sister. We love her shiny, springy curls, and the way they surround her face and complement her bone structure.
Tia's twin sister, Tamera, is also on the short hair bandwagon. The actress and talk show host showed off her razor-cut bob on Instagram a few weeks ago. It's so sleek and shiny that it's making us reach for our favorite Sachajuan Shine Serum ($33).
“French Girl” Textured Lob
Marion Cotillard is the quintessential French-girl, hence, her hairstyles reflect the values of being low-maintenance, yet chic. Abergel says, "For naturally wavy hair, [Marion Cotillard's air-dried lob] is the most effortless way to wear your hair." To get the look, he instructs, "Ask your stylist to cut your hair above the shoulders with long layers and lots of texturizing on the ends. Virtue Labs Moisture-Defining Whip ($36) is a texture enhancing, hydrating mousse that leaves hair incredibly soft. It smoothes brings out all the gorgeous natural texture in your hair."
Collarbone Length With No Layers
Modeled on Niecy Nash, "This look is timeless and even without layers, because of the length, it’s actually quite versatile," notes Abergel. "This cut sits just below the shoulders and has absolutely no layers. Create movement and texture by spraying a bit of Virtue Labs Texture Spray ($18) or wear it sleek by applying 6-In-1 Styler ($18) prior to blowdrying."
If your hair is fine, leave ends blunt, but if you have medium to thick hair, ask your stylist to soften and texturize the ends.
Timeless One Length Bob
According to Abergel, "You can never go wrong with a chic, classic one length bob that is easy to maintain. Consult with your stylist to see what length would look best on your face shape. Ask for a blunt, one-length bob with no layers. Apply a bit of Virtue Labs Healing Oil ($42) from the mid to ends of your hair for a beautiful high shine finish." Here, Naomi Watts gives the illusion of an asymmetrical cut by simply parting her hair to the side.
Halle Berry is the queen of the edgy, textured cut. Though she likes to switch it up from time to time, this will always be the haircut we think of when we hear her name. To recreate her piecey separation, use a texture or salt spray like Ouai Dry Texture Foam ($28) on your hair.
Ginnifer Goodwin's keeps her hair shortest at the front (look closely and you'll see bobby pins securing it down across her forehead), which makes for a cool retro look. These so-called "baby bangs" have been in the spotlight ever since Bella Hadid wore them a couple of years ago.
Shoulder-Length With Long Layers
It goes without saying that shoulder-length cuts are universally flattering. Here, Padma Lakshmi adds movement and body to her mid-length cut with a slight wave throughout. Ends are slightly flared out for a fun and flirty vibe. For added gloss, finish styling with a shine serum.
Wispy, Soft Bangs
According to Abergel, "Bangs are definitely on trend for 2020 and they’re also a great way to hide any undesirable forehead wrinkles. Ask your stylist to cut bangs that hit below the eyebrow going from shorter in the center and slightly longer towards the cheekbones."
Bangs can get oily throughout the day from sitting right on the skin, so carry a travel-sized dry shampoo in your purse to refresh as necessary.
Cameron Diaz wears her California blonde hair in a short cut, and we're fans of the way she styles it. To us, it seems like she works with her hair's natural bend and wave to achieve and beachy and lived-in look. It's the epitome of an "I woke up like this" hairstyle and even those with the most stubborn straight strands can achieve it.
Bob With Feathered Ends
Viola Davis's shiny bob is the stuff of short hair dreams. While we love a sleek, razor-cut bob, it's kind of refreshing to see something softer and less severe—in this case, we're referring to her feathered ends, which give off a subtle '70s vibe.
Sleek, Swooped Bob
Charlize Theron's sleek bob is made all the better by parting her hair far off to one side, so it swoops over her face in a modern and editorial manner. Pair this cut with coppery eyeshadow and a matching lip, and you'll be red carpet-ready too.
Jada Pinkett Smith is another celebrity who is known for sporting short and chic hair. Here, her bob is slicked back into a red carpet style, but it's the perfect photo to show how adding volume to the roots is an effective way to elevate (pun intended) a short hairstyle. It's elegant and modern. Abergel recommends building volume with a product like Virtue Volumizing Primer ($36)
Short, Textured Bob
While we know that Natalie Portman isn't over 40...yet, Abergel highlights, "This is probably the trendiest of trendy haircuts if you want to be hip and current!" He advises, "Consult with your stylist and pick a length that suits your face shape. Ask your stylist to keep the layers long but remove weight by creating lots of texture throughout. Virtue Labs Texture Spray ($18) is extremely lightweight and will enhance and create so much movement and body for this cut."
Curly, Volumized Pixie
The beautiful Naomi Campbell flaunts her natural texture in this short, curly 'do. We love how her highlights emphasize texture and brighten. Keep natural hair moisturized by working in some oil like Ouai Hair Oil ($28). For a natural alternative, shea butter will also keep strands hydrated and healthy.
Pixie With Longer Bangs
Look no further than Tilda Swinton for pointers on how to rock short hair. Abergel comments, "This cut is short but when pieces are left longer around the face, it creates a softer feminine touch. Ask your stylist to create contrast between underneath your hair (sides and back) and the top by leaving the top section and bangs around your face much longer. I recommend using a bit of Virtue Labs 6-In-1 Styler ($18) to create texture and shine. It’s also a wonderful product for air-drying."
Short and Choppy
As seen here on Nia Long, "Choppy texture always creates definition and movement, especially on short or dark hair. It can also give you height if your face shape needs elongation," says Abergel. He instructs, "Ask your stylist to leave the sides and back soft around the hairline and around the ears. The top should be slightly lighter and very texturized by cutting with scissors." To enhance the choppiness of this cut, he recommends using a lightweight texturizing spray.
Jennifer Lopez shows off her diamond-shaped bone structure with this flattering lob. Rather than opt for a blunt cut, she opts for long layers, which lend texture to strands so that they retain a somewhat unfinished look. Pair with a polished middle part and you've got the perfect combination of cool meets chic.
Natural, Curly Coils
The lovely Viola Davis works with her hair's natural texture with this curly, layered bob. Abergel notes that this look is "best for achieving tons of volume and also ideal for maintaining the health of your hair. Get your hair healthy and strong by keeping heat off of it and turning to protective styles such as twists and braids. Curly hair tends to naturally be on the dryer side. Hydrate and nourish your curls with Virtue Labs Smooth Shampoo ($15) and Conditioner ($16)."
Curly Shag With Fringe
Red-headed beauty Christina Hendricks looks like she stepped right out of a 70s disco—and we mean that in the best way possible—with her curly shag. She embraces her natural curls and adds volume and movement to hair while doing so.
Natural Coils With Shaved, Short Sides
Taraji P. Henson plays with texture and length here. "Having the contrast between the short shaved sides and a longer top creates a cool, edgy vibe that still remains sophisticated," comments Abergel. "Ask your stylist to cut the sides and back down to a short length that is still soft around the hairline and ears. Apply a combination of Virtue Labs Moisture Defining Whip ($18) to enhance curl and Un-Frizz Cream ($20) to smooth strands."
Textured Bob With Face-Framing Layers
Is there anyone who personifies the word chic better or more often than Victoria Beckham? Here, she's pictured with a short, textured bob, complete with short face-framing pieces in front. It looks full of movement and body without looking overly "done."
Actress and model Nicole Ari Parker's bob hits right at the chin, framing her face beautifully. Soft curls lend body and movement to her look while highlights brighten, adding depth and dimension. Her sparse bangs are subtle and prove that less is more.