En español | Long hair can rock at any age. If you do it right, the extra length adds a bit of attitude and makes you feel sexy, whether it barely grazes shoulders or flows to mid-back and beyond. Celebrities know that discreet snips, TLC and frequent updates are what it takes to make longer hair a mane event at 50. So don't sell yourself short: What qualifies now as “long” has a big range — enough to find a look that fits every style and taste.
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PHOTO BY: Getty Images; JB Lacroix/WireImage; Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
1. A “lob” — long bob — is the shortest version of long. It skims your shoulders or just dusts your collarbones as you move or turn your head. For some, a lob is the gateway style to longer hair or a comfy exit from it. For others, it's just a personal preference. It can be the right update for women who have had long hair, want a major change but feel naked with a shorter neck-revealing bob or crop. Go classic with a side part and sleek blowout like Lisa Kudrow, edgy with a center part and layered ends like Catherine Keener or big with a curly textured lob like Lorraine Toussaint.
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2. A wavy lob amps up the glam. This look is great for mature hair that has some natural wave or is sturdy enough to withstand a curling iron. The ripples or flipped-out ends make a longish lob the newest alternative to really long movie-star hair. Julia Roberts got the chop, and so did Patricia Clarkson — but it's the piece-y layered ends that make this cut new. Julia lets her texture go beachy, while Clarkson blow-dries and flicks out her layered ends. Since waves and curls eat up length, be sure your stylist allows for “shrinkage” when dry.
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PHOTO BY: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images; Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images
3. A smooth below-the-shoulders length is polished and classy. This length looks groomed and cared for when blown sleek, whether it's a one-length blunt cut or slightly piece-y at the ends. It's a minimalistic look that relies on simplicity and line, and requires little effort to style or maintain. Meryl Streep wears her hair off her face with volume at the hairline, and Lucy Liu sculpts definition with a side part. If you want something easy, this is it.
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4. Shaggy layers and full, feathery bangs are grownup sexy. The long fringe and tousled style suggest tons of hair but doesn't actually require major length or fullness. The wide bangs and bouncy ends add width and volume. Goldie Hawn is this long style's biggest fan and likes her bangs extra-long with an outward flip, while Emmylou Harris and Rosanna Arquette do brow skimmers. Ten minutes in a Velcro-roller dry set or a quick spin of the curling iron enhances body and movement for a laid-back look that's staying put. It's the “jeans” of hair.
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PHOTO BY: Getty Images (4): Gabe Ginsberg; Bennett Raglin; Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage
5. Blunt bangs update truly long hair fast. Bangs and color elevate long hair from collegiate to chic. The highlights (stunning or subtle) can be a real looks changer. Jane Seymour cut her bangs and a few inches off the bottom and swapped her usual brown for golden-red highlights in 2013. Paula Abdul, Carol Alt and Kelly Lynch make bangs part of their personal style, too. A full fringe can make long hair that's fine appear thicker without taking too much hair away from the sides. Sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners and a weekly deep-conditioning mask keep hair soft and hydrated. You can't let the upkeep go — so if you are low maintenance, this style is not for you.
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PHOTO BY: Presley Ann/Getty Images; Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images for Hamptons Magazine; Dominik Bindl/Getty Images; Getty Images
6. Curls and waves turn longer hair into statement hair. Whether you do an all-over mass of glossy spirals like Debra Messing or Bernadette Peters, soft romantic curls like Niecy Nash or a cloud of soft textured hair like Angela Bassett, you're guaranteed to stand out in the crowd. Texture is the new “straight” for long hair, as women get more comfortable breaking away from the stick-straight look. Try a volumizing mist or dry shampoo for extra oomph when hair air-dries or for a second-day revival.
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PHOTO BY: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic; Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images
7. A ponytail is forever. A high ponytail works like a mini face- or eye lift and gently pulls upper facial skin smooth and sharpens your profile. But keep it gentle — not super-tight or too high — and use a soft, plush elastic or updated scrunchie for hold. Most ponytails look flattering just below the crown like Oprah Winfrey or just above the nape like Nicole Kidman. Too high and you look like a cheerleader. Too low and you flatten the back of your head. Keep the tail as lush and full as possible with a thickening spray. One cautionary note: Do not make a pony a daily ‘do — this is plan B for an occasional change. Mature hair can't handle the stress at the hairline and point of cinching.
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PHOTO BY: Getty Images (2): Frazer Harrison (r)
8. Updos depend on long hair and have lost their uptight look. It's not “granny” hair anymore, whether you do a loose knot like Courteney Cox or a big bun of knots, dreadlocks and braids like Lisa Bonet. To keep the look modern, have a few pieces falling out of your updo or ponytail around the face. Go for soft, undone and uncoiffed.
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PHOTO BY: Getty Images (2); James Warren/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images; Karwai Tang/Getty Images
9. Mermaid hair is extreme fantasy hair come to life. If you can get away with hair that flows past your bosom or waist, thanks to amazing genes or some faux-hair help — why not? Some women like Demi Moore, Beverly Johnson and Elle Macpherson maintain their fairy-tale hair's health and quality. They keep it glowing and growing — with a strict regimen of moisturizing shampoos and conditioners, careful use of color for root touch-ups or highlights, and mini trims. A detangling leave-in conditioner after shampooing could be your new BFF. Extensions? Of course, some do add them but who cares — it's over the top but amazing.
For more beauty and style tips for women age 50-plus, check out The Makeup Wakeup: Revitalizing Your look at Any Age by Lois Joy Johnson and Sandy Linter
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