Gray hair can actually work to your advantage.
So, you’ve invested in every anti-aging skincare product on the market but still think you look older than you should. What gives? Real talk: Your hair might need an update. While there’s nothing — we repeat, nothing — wrong with aging, the professional hair stylists ahead can help you use your hairstyle to your advantage.
1 Your cut is too short.
“If hair is healthy and plentiful, there’s no reason to chop it into a conservative crop just to make it more age-appropriate,” says Thom Priano, co-founder of R+Co. But if you do go short, keep it slightly shaggy. You’ll look more modern, and the maintenance will be easier without blunt lines.
2 Your tresses are too long.
Excessive length can drag hair down, pulling your features along with it — the anti-face-lift. The worst offender: long, parted-down-the-middle, shapeless locks. To keep some length, consider a choppy bob that sits just below the collarbone, suggests Paul Labrecque of the eponymous New York City salons. “Asymmetrical or less-than-perfect shapes deflect attention away from wrinkles,” he adds.
3 You’re afraid to lighten up.
Holding on to that jet-black shade could be aging you. Extremely dark hair against a light scalp makes thinning more visible. It also casts shadows on your skin so wrinkles look more pronounced, says Gary Howse, creative director of the Gary Manuel salons in Seattle. Instead, go two or three shades lighter with either permanent color or highlights around your face, says colorist Sharon Dorram of Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger in New York City.
4 You won’t go darker.
“Hair the same tone as your complexion washes you out,” says Louis Licari, a celebrity colorist with salons in New York City and Beverly Hills. A bit of contrast can give your skin a healthier glow. “If you’re too light, add in some deeper, caramel lowlights,” suggests Priano.
5 You don’t know how to work with gray hair.
Gray hair doesn’t have to add 10 years — as long as you keep the color vibrant. “Yellowing gray hair is as bad as yellowing teeth,” says Howse. Prevent silver strands from dulling your features with products that contain shine enhancers and UV filters. On hair that’s more than 50% gray, use a shampoo with blue or violet undertones to neutralize yellow. If yellow tones cling tenaciously, as they tend to on 100% white hair, Howse recommends coloring hair a light shade of blond to take the aging effect away.
6 You opted for an extreme cut.
Hairstylists equate a bold cut or color to wearing too-trendy clothes or overdoing your makeup. “Look for photos of celebrities your age with great hair like Halle Berry or Susan Sarandon,” says Howse. “Then show your favorites to your stylist.”
Bangs are another way to bust out of a hair rut: “They usually make people look younger,” says Howse. He suggests road testing them first: Put your hand over your forehead when you look in the mirror, then take your hand away — which look do you prefer? Ask for bangs that are full, not wispy, and that reach the center of your brows. Or opt for a longer, side-swept fringe.
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