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 fewer 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. "Life over 40 brings lots of incredible gifts and opportunities to express your womanhood. Let your short style give room for variety and be a natural extension of who you are on the inside," preaches stylist Melanie Bolton.
In fact, just to prove how beautiful short hair can be, we consulted Bolton and stylist to the stars Adir Abergel 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.
- Melanie Bolton is a hairstylist and director of education at Flow.
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. "[It's] a great example of how natural curls can frame the face to highlight the eyes and give length to the neck, fulfilling two of the most popular hair goals for women over 40," comments Bolton.
"This look requires a foundation of hydration to keep frizz at bay. This means using rich, moisturizing care products and treatments on a regular basis (e.g. Flow 30 Second Treatment, $25)," adds Bolton. "To style and add curl control, apply a cream-based texture cream, such as Flow Design Cream ($22) onto damp curls and air or diffuser drying. To finish, apply a shine serum like Flow H5 Concentrate ($24) or oil on dry curls."
If you are highly considering this cut, Bolton recommends visiting a curl specialist to ensure your fringe is carefully crafted. She warns that the wrong length for a curly fringe can take a while to recover from.
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. It's so sleek and shiny that it's making us reach for our favorite Sachajuan Shine Serum ($35).
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.
Rose McGowan's chic minimalist 'do has got it all. "This cut is classic yet modern and one of the lowest maintenance cuts to style daily," says Abergel.
"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.," he says. "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."
French-Girl Textured Lob
Marion Cotillard is the quintessential French girl, hence, her hairstyles reflect the values of being low-maintenance yet chic. "For naturally wavy hair, [Marion Cotillard's air-dried lob] is the most effortless way to wear your hair.," says Abergel.
To get this French-girl 'do, 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 and brings out all the gorgeous natural texture in your hair," says Abergel.
Natural Coils With Shaved, Short Sides
Taraji P. Henson plays with texture and length short, natural 'do. "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."
Collarbone Length With No Layers
Niecy Nash's sleek style sans layers is proof that blunt cuts are not going anywhere. Abergel points out its versatility thanks to its just-below-the-shoulders length. He advises, "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 blow-drying." Bolton adds, "Choosing a cut that offers multiple ways to style your hair will also allow you to change-up your vibe depending on how you feel."
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 'do with a slight wave throughout. Ends are slightly flared out for a fun and flirty vibe while "perfectly placed long layers and purposeful texture softly highlight the shape of the face," notes Bolton. For added gloss, finish styling with a shine serum.
To achieve this sultry style, Bolton emphasizes, "You want to texturize your blowout." To do so, "First, blow-dry hair smooth by using a large round or paddle brush, drying by section. Next, add a medium-hold dry texture spray, like Flow Root Reboot Texture & Root Refresher ($22), at the root, and tousle the hair with fingers to create piece-y definition. Finally, finish the hair with a medium-hold hairspray, such as Flow Impeccablefinish™ FlexWorking Hairspray ($22) all over, to ensure long-lasting wear," she instructs.
Timeless One-Length Bob
Here, Naomi Watts gives the illusion of an asymmetrical cut by simply parting her hair to the side. "You can never go wrong with a chic, classic one-length bob that is easy to maintain," says Abergel. "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."
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.
Wispy, Soft Bangs
Long, wispy bangs can work to soften a pixie cut, as seen here on Kerry Washington look amazingly chic. "Bangs are definitely on trend, and they’re also a great way to hide any undesirable forehead wrinkles," says Abergel. 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 a beachy, 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. Bolton agrees: "A beachy bob cut is absolutely ageless and offers the freedom of texture on your terms while providing the ultimate nod to fashion."
"Start with a volumizing product to add lift at the root and a medium-hold texture cream through the lengths to add definition. Next, blow-dry the hair using fingers to tousle and texturize—if your hair has natural texture, work with it not against it. Finally, use a flat iron to twist out any sections where you would like a little more wave, and tousle," says Bolton. Her must-have products include Flow Boundless Body Plumping Lotion ($22), Flow Touchable Texture Design Cream ($22)—in case you were wondering.
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. Just keep in mind: 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.
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. "If you have dark hair and are going for highlights, be sure to lighten gently and slowly to avoid compromising or damaging your curl pattern," says Bolton. "This look is a great example that shows you don’t have to choose a bleached-blonde contrast to achieve dramatic results." Not to mention, it's also a great option if you're growing out your curly hair from a shorter style.
"Start your style in the shower by ensuring your hair is deeply moisturized. Next, add a cream-based texture product like Flow Touchable Texture Design Cream ($22) throughout the lengths to control texture and frizz. Dry curls slowly with a diffuser, using fingers to create volume at the root and allow curls to cool completely. Finally, use fingers to separate and define texture," instructs Bolton.
Short, Textured Bob
While we know that Natalie Portman isn't over 40, but her cut is probably the trendiest of trendy haircuts, according to Abergel.
"Consult with your stylist and pick a length that suits your face shape," he says. Ask 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."
Pixie With Longer Bangs
Look no further than Tilda Swinton for pointers on how to rock short hair. "This cut is short, but when pieces are left longer around the face, it creates a softer feminine touch," says Abergel. "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."
Jennifer Lopez shows off her diamond-shaped bone structure with this flattering lob. Rather than opt for a blunt cut, she chooses long layers that 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.
Although she likes to switch it up from time to time, this textured pixie will always be the haircut we think of when we hear the name "Halle Berry." It's also an expert-approved style for women of 40. Bolton says, "There is no doubt that a fabulous short haircut at any age can frame the face beautifully and enhance all the right features."
"However, there are some tricks to the trade that can be incorporated into the shape of a short cut to help women over 40 look even more radiant. For example, ensuring your short cut has lots of layers and texture will soften the look and help to bring focus to your eyes or favorite facial feature." To recreate Berry's edgy, piece-y separation, use a texture or salt spray like Ouai Dry Texture Foam ($28).
Curly Shag With Bangs
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 complete with bangs. This style is great for curly-haired girls since it will allow you to embrace your hair's natural texture. Apply Garnier Fructis Style Pure Clean Detangler with Aloe Extract ($5) to strands when air-drying to keep frizz at bay and to style au natural.
Jada Pinkett Smith is another celebrity who is known for sporting short and chic hair. Here, her pixie 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)
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 face-framing layers that capture movement and body without looking overly "done." Bolton also highlights this cut's versatility. Worn smooth, it gives off a more dressed up vibe, perfect for a special occasion.
To recreate this posh (wink, wink) style, apply a volumizing product, such as Flow Boundless Body Plumping Lotion ($22) at your roots, then work a texture cream like Flow Touchable Texture Design Cream ($22), from hair mids to ends before blow-drying. Finish with Flow Impeccable Finish Flex Hairspray ($22) to set and hold.
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 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)." We also recommend working in some oil like Ouai Hair Oil ($28). For a natural alternative, shea butter will also keep strands hydrated and healthy.
Short and Choppy
Nia Long went full-on chop and turned up the texture with this simple, yet powerful pixie. "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. "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.