Sandra Bullock, Halle Berry, Jennifer Aniston—this isn't a star-studded cast of a blockbuster movie we'd all love to see (though please, can we make it happen?). These leading ladies are all living proof that women over 50 can rock a wide range of chic hairstyles. Still, there's something so liberating about chopping it all off, and your 50s is as good a time as any to try out a new cropped 'do that's both modern and sophisticated.
Whether you've got wavy, coarse, curly, fine, or straight hair, there's definitely a cut out there for you. We spoke with Sanda Petrut, professional hairstylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago and Savannah St. Jean, owner of Savannah Rae Beauty, to find out the best short haircuts and styles for women over 50.
Meet the Expert
• Sanda Petrut is a professional hairstylist based at Chicago's Maxine Salon.
• Savannah St. Jean is a beauty expert and the owner of Savannah Rae Beauty in Miramar Beach, Florida.
"Short haircuts are low-maintenance and can be designed for any woman, regardless of her lifestyle, face shape, or hair texture and density," says Petrut. "Chopping your hair can be liberating, and the right cut can complement the features you want to accentuate."
Read on for more A-list short hair inspiration.
One of the most classic short hairstyle options for women over 50, the pixie cut frames the face and can highlight your best features, as evidenced here on Mad Men actress Randee Heller. Except for the occasional trim, they're relatively low-maintenance—you can wash and go, or quickly style it with a pomade.
A spiked hairstyle like Angela Bassett's is a fun way to change up your look. Soften it up by skipping the spikes and letting it fall naturally, or turn up the volume with a teasing brush and some styling gel. With this cut, there's enough length to change your style day to day.
To style the look, St. Jean recommends a heavy, wax-based spray such as Kevin Murphy Touchable Spray Wax ($30) "This acts as a styling paste would, except it’s in a spray form, so its easier to control how much product you use," she says. "Simply spray it in and spike your hair with your fingers."
A textured pixie is an effortless style that's super hip. The look seen here on Halle Berry is achievable with a shorter or longer cut—just use a little pomade to separate pieces of hair and add texture.
Short, Subtle Layered Cut
Subtle layers add dimension to this go-to short haircut for older women, as seen on actress Emma Thompson. "Easy to style, the layers add lots of velvety texture while the bangs frame the eyes and accentuate cheekbones," notes Petrut. St. Jean adds that a light, wax-based texturizing spray "will leave you with movement but will give the piecey look you are trying to achieve." Try Kristin Ess Dry Finish Working Texture Spray ($14).
To use a texturizing spray, simply spray and tousle with your fingers to give your hair the definition you want.
Keeping the layers longer can add volume to a pixie, which is ideal if you have thin hair that tends to fall flat, like actress Nia Long. Similarly, adding highlights not only creates the illusion of more body, but the color itself will work to plump up your hair.
To create an old Hollywood look, add a wave (using a curling iron) to a pixie.
Janet Jackson's short pompadour might look complicated, but it couldn't be easier to pull off. "This cut has versatility and is low maintenance," says Petrut. "It’s ideal for straight hair and it can be styled slicked back or blow-dried forward with a low part and sweeping bangs."
Tilda Swinton's undercut-pompadour combo ups the ante and gives the classic style a modern twist. Relatively low-maintenance and easy to style, this look gives off "I woke up like this" vibes. A root powder such as Kevin Murphy Powder Puff Volumizing Powder ($28) can work wonders on a look like this, according to St. Jean. "Simply tap the powder into your roots and tousle your hair to add texture and volume where you need it."
Lisa Rinna's shag is perfect for thick hair that has some natural wave. If highlights are your thing, they'll definitely add extra dimension with this style. Or, instead of traditional highlights, opt for balayage.
For straight, fine hair, the short bob seen on actress Cicely Tyson is a fabulous choice at any age. It's a length that naturally adds volume to straight hair. And, it can be switched up on the daily: A middle part keeps it sleek while a side part adds volume and takes the style from day to night.
Bob With Side-Swept Bangs
"This is a great haircut for women with different textures (straight, wavy, or curly), and different densities (ranging from fine to thick hair)," explains Petrut. "It offers lots of versatility—from conservative to messy—and it can also be flat ironed to accentuate the piecy-ness and texture at the ends."
A straight bob is chic and timeless. Just ask Julianne Moore, who's rocked the look on numerous occasions. Start with a volumizing mousse on damp hair then blow-dry straight with a round brush for both volume and straightness. "The trick with this style is to maintain the sleek, straight look," notes St. Jean. "To do this, you need a product to keep the humidity and frizz at bay." She recommends an anti-humidity spray such as Oribe Imperméable ($23). "Simply style and set the finished look with this spray."
Volumized Shoulder-Length Cut
A shoulder-length cut can be made to look oh-so-voluminous with a simple at-home blowout. The best part about the cut seen here on Diane Lane is that you can change up the part for endless looks—a middle part gives the look of symmetry while a side part will accentuate a square-shaped face.
Curly, Shoulder-Length Cut
Shonda Rhime's shoulder-length curly hairstyle is flattering on all face shapes. To achieve, layer your styling products on wet curls and diffuse. Once your hair is dry, lift your curls from the root with a pick to add volume without the frizz.
Soft, Wavy Shoulder-Length Cut
Soft waves on shoulder-length hair are timeless. If you don't have natural waves like Salma Hayek, set your hair with big rollers to create this look.
Middle-Parted, Shoulder-Length Cut
Waves (seen here on Mariska Hargitay) offer a dimensional effect to this soft, shoulder-length cut, and a middle part helps highlight the face. Use a medium-size curling iron to create subtle waves from the ears dow. For added interest, try lowlights, as seen here on Hargitay.
Mid-Length Springy Curl
Jane Fonda's springy curls give this mid-length cut a youthful vibe. A quick spritz of shine spray will enhance the curls and add definition.
Sassy, Shaggy Bob
Heather Locklear's low-maintenance look is equal parts messy and chic. "Shaggy haircuts can be achieved on straight, wavy, or curly hair, and also on various lengths from short to medium," says Petrut. "If hair is straight, roughly blow-dry the hair and then use a curling iron to create shaggy curls."
Shoulder-Length High-Volume Waves
We dig the glamorous look big curls give, seen here on Cheryl Ladd. The trick here is to use a powder-based texturizing spray, such as Kevin.Murphy Doo.Over Hairspray ($32). "This product will help set the curls you make using a large barrel curling iron, but also add volume to give you the fluffy, high-volume look you are trying to achieve," says St. Jean.
Create volume at the ends by blow-drying with a round brush and going over with a large barrel curling iron.