While you may have once enjoyed a never-ending streak of good hair days, for many people, turning 40 signals the end of lustrous locks and the beginning of suddenly limp, lifeless hair that refuses to behave. Whether it’s the sudden onset of grays or a change in texture, the days when you could simply wash and go are a thing of the past.
“For certain people, their hair will dry out and get lifeless as they get older,” says Marc Zelno, a stylist at Delilah Salon in Brooklyn. “You lose elasticity in your hair just like you lose elasticity in the skin. It also tends to get a bit ashier and it doesn’t have the body it did in your 20s.”
But there’s no need to panic yet. Just because your hair has changed doesn’t mean you’re doomed to an endless procession of bad hair days. By following these simple tips for getting your best hair no matter your age—whether you’re 40, 50, or even 60—you’ll look like you just stepped out of the salon, seven days a week.
1Stop with the daily wash.
woman shampooing hair in shower
While you may have been able to get away with washing your hair on a daily basis when you were younger, as you age, your scalp and hair tend to get drier, meaning daily shampooing can make your mane look dull and lifeless. “The most a person should shampoo their hair is twice a week,” says Zelno. “Something that’s sulfate-free would be a good choice versus something that’s harsher.”
2Keep your hair well-moisturized.
woman conditioning hair
Think skipping the conditioner will keep your hair from looking oily? Think again. In fact, as hair ages—especially if you’re dealing with grays—it tends to get coarser and needs a little more TLC in the shower. “Older people should condition their hair every time they shampoo it,” says Zelno.
3Don’t assume you have to go short.
While many people assume that they have virtually no choice but to cut their hair short when they hit 40, Zelno says that that advice is woefully outdated. “It works for some people, but every ‘rule’ is not for everyone,” says Zelno. A lot of women go by that rule—cut your hair short because you’re older—but it’s very foolish. It’s just not true. In fact, there are some older women who look much better with long hair than they do with short hair—as long as it’s treated well. It all depends on the thickness, the curl, and the color. There are no set rules in hair anymore.”
4Embrace your natural texture.
Instead of trying to get your hair to become something it’s not, when you’re over 40, there’s no better time to start embracing your natural texture. As your hair becomes drier, it also becomes more prone to breakage, meaning the less time you spend trying to straighten waves or set your hair in rollers, the healthier it will be in the long run.
If you’re noticing some unwanted lines and wrinkles as you age, the answer isn’t Botox: it’s bangs. Bangs can not only disguise some of your forehead wrinkles, the right bangs can also flatter your face and highlight your bone structure.
6Embrace your grays.
Who says that grays are something to be ashamed of? Gray is one of the hottest colors in the hair industry right now, so if you happen to be lucky enough to come by yours naturally, embrace it—there are plenty of people willing to pay hundreds or thousands to get the same look.
7Keep your flat-ironing impulses to a minimum.
While you may love the look of sleek, flat-ironed hair, try ignoring the voice that tells you to straighten your hair on a daily basis whenever possible. As your hair ages, it may be drier or more prone to breakage than when you were younger, and flat-ironing it will only exacerbate those issues.
8Don’t be afraid of hair oils.
woman using hair oil
Though it might seem like hair oils would make your hair oily, they’re generally a great tool for anyone who wants to smooth age-related frizz without making their hair limp and lifeless. Zelno recommends oil-based products for aging hair as a means of keeping it soft, shiny, and manageable.
9Add some face-flattering layers.
layered hair cut on red hair
While the shape of your face may look different at 40, 50, or 60 than it did at 20, there are plenty of ways to flatter your face, no matter what shape you’re working with. One of the easiest: Adding some face-framing layers that hit at your cheekbone and jaw to highlight your bone structure.
10Attend to that flaky scalp.
dry scalp dandruff hair
For many people, aging means dealing with an unexpected—and unwanted—hair issue: dandruff. And for many people, the dandruff shampoos that fixed the problem when they were younger barely touch it as they get older. If your shoulders look like you’ve been standing outside in a snowstorm after you brush, it’s time to head to the dermatologist to get a prescription-strength product that will put an end to those flakes for good