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Blowouts Are So 2016

Hold the hairspray — imperfection is the new glam

Susan Sarandon with wavy hair

Susan Sarandon at the Standard Grill in New York — Jake Chessum/The New York Times/Redux

En español | Did she or didn’t she? That’s what I can’t help thinking whenever I see a 50+ woman rocking sleek, perfectly straight, blown-out hair.

I’m referring, of course, to whether or not she got that look from a salon pro or did it herself. And what a sea change that confusion represents: For decades, we strove only to duplicate what our hairdresser did.

But hold the hairspray — there’s a new glam in town: No more hours of arm-tiring, hair-wrecking flat-ironing…no more worries about frizz. If you want your locks to look healthy, hot and hip, the new hair to have for 2017 — at any length — is imperfect: curly, wavy, textured, choppy, uneven or free-form tousled. Think Annette Bening, Bebe Neuwirth, Susan Sarandon or Kyra Sedgwick. So here are four ways to achieve imperfection:

1) If you have textured, frizz-prone or curly hair: Let it go! Rather than fight that extra oomph, use it to your advantage: Shampoo, condition and dry au naturel, then apply heat-protector spray as a primer. This is not the same thing as a styling product; it’s a high-tech barrier between your curling iron and your hair, and designed to be spritzed on damp hair after conditioner or detangler but before body-enhancing mousses or serums. (Look for a heat-protector spray that contains a hydrating oil such as jojoba or sunflower extract — you’ll like the silky finish.) Using a curling iron — the bigger the barrel, the better — create random twirls in your hair. Work quickly, taking care not to overheat, and resisting your temptation create even ringlets. Finally, flip your hair over and run your fingers through it to separate. Done!

2) Medium to long natural, textured hair: A cloud of soft or coarse textured hair is super-cool on mature women, especially if it tends to go ’fro. Air-dry or rough-dry it briefly — two minutes, max — by bending at the waist and blow-drying from the underside with a diffuser, using your fingers as a rake. This kicks up the volume and creates an airy, all-over heat flow to speed things up. Flip back and continue to air-dry.

3) Ponytail-length straight to wavy hair: If you’re at home, put damp hair up in a scrunchie or a super-soft elastic on top or your head. If you’re out and about or at work all day, tie it back at the nape of your neck. Then twist the tail into a rope; coil and tuck in the ends. Once your hair dries, let it down and part it on the side for modern, movie-star waves.

4) Fine, short, fragile or damaged hair: Air-dry your hair about 60 percent, then set it on soft pillow rollers with hidden internal wires for shaping. (These are the new alternative to ancient rag rollers or those pink foam rollers your mother was partial to.) Section your hair, roll each strand in a “pillow” and tie to secure. The pillows should look higgledy-piggledy; you want them at irregular angles, not in perfect rows. Unroll when dry, and finger-tousle for a contemporary look. No heat required!

For more beauty and style tips for women age 50+, check out The Woman's Wakeup: How to Shake Up Your Looks, Life, and Love after 50, as well as AARP's new Beauty & Style special edition for tablets.

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