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Beauty

These 6 ‘Magic Hairstyles’ Create Optical Illusions That Lift and Plump Facial Features

'Dos to keep you looking youthful.

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If you’re like us, you’ve been styling, cutting, and coloring your hair the same way for decades— if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? But as we age, the flattering hairstyles of our younger years may no longer have the vibrancy they once did, due to changes in the texture, luminosity, and thickness of our hair and skin over the years. In fact, the cuts and colors we previously loved may now add years to our appearance.

The good news? As these over-50 A-listers prove, a quick snip, a color swap, or a simple style change can create a more youthful appearance. Read on to discover six easy tweaks that will transform your look.

1. Forehead furrows? Try curtain bangs.

Model Christie Brinkley before and after change in hairstyle
Christie BrinkleyMedia Punch/INSTARimages.com: J Lingo/Shutterstock

A fringeless cut opens up the face to showcase beautiful features. The downside? A bare forehead can put a spotlight on deep-set forehead furrows and thinning along the hairline.

The Easy Tweak: Snip in curtain bangs, says hairstylist Stephen Knoll, who’s worked with Cindy Crawford and Kathy Ireland. “By subtly swooping across the forehead, the feathery fringe hides wrinkles and conceals thinning.” Bonus? The face-framing style helps cheeks look plumper. Simply ask your stylist for full, brow-skimming curtain bangs that blend in at the sides. Or try a pair of clip-ins (we like Hairdo Clip In Bangs, Buy from Wigs.com, $30.99 to $31.99) to see if the style is right for you.

2. Discolored skin? Try babylights.

Actress Susan Lucci before and after changing hairstyle
Susan LucciSlaven Vlasic/Getty Images: Image Press Agency/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

We tend to turn to same-colored dyes in order to cover grays. But a one-dimensional hair hue can wash out the complexion, emphasizing dark shadows and age spots, says colorist Rick Wellman, who’s worked with Tina Fey and Brooke Shields.

The Easy Tweak: Add in a few superfine highlights. The brighter strands reflect light onto the face, optically blurring skin flaws. To do: Paint the bleach from a highlighting kit (we like Revlon Color Effects Frost and Glow Highlights in Blonde, Buy from Amazon, $6.98) onto various ¼-inch sections of hair around the face using a clean spoolie brush (it helps make the thinner streaks easy to apply). Rinse after 30 minutes.

3. Full face? Try a fringed shag.

Musician Shania Twain before and after changing hairstyle
Shania TwainS Meddle/ITV/Shutterstock: Nicky J Sims/Getty Images for Bauer Media

The weight of long tresses with heavy layers that fan out between the cheeks and the jawline (where the face is widest) draws attention outward, adding optical pounds to the face.

The Easy Tweak: Try trimming hair so it rests along the shoulders and snipping in wispy fringe, says Wendy Gutkin, a hairstylist with göt2b haircare. The combination of shorter strands and piecey bangs helps balance the face while directing the eye away from fuller cheeks so the face appears much leaner. Just ask your stylist for a shoulder-length shag with blended layers throughout and full, wispy fringe.

4. Droopy Jaw? Try a cheeky crop.

Actress Holland Taylor before and after changing hairstyle
Holland TaylorJason Merritt/Radarpics/Shutterstock: Evans Vestal Ward/NBC via Getty Images

A bob that skims the jawline helps frame beautiful facial features. But when the classic cut has minimal layers, it draws focus down, pulling cheeks and the jaw with it, so you’re left looking more saggy.

The Easy Tweak: Try a layered, banged crop that lays softly near the ears, says Gutkin. “The texture from layers gives the shorter style a modern, youthful edge, while bangs work like Botox to camouflage aging blahs and optically lift features.” Just ask your stylist for an ear-length crop with stacked, graduating layers throughout and soft, side-swept bangs. And to style with sass, work a dollop of a volumizing mousse (we like Nexxus Mousse + Volumizing Foam, Buy from Target, $20.49) into damp hair. Next, blow-dry hair using a small round brush, pulling hair up and out at the roots. Once dry, tousle with fingers and set with hair spray.

5. Sharp features? Try bouncy curls.

Actress Angela Bassett before and after changing hairstyle
Angela BassettTodd Williamson/January Images/Shutterstock: MediaPunch/Shutterstock

Once we hit our 50s, we’ve lost the collagen that made skin look plumper and the padding that made features look softer. And stick-straight–styled hair gives those aging features prominence.

The Easy Tweak: Try infusing hair with bouncy coils, says celebrity hairstylist Stephen Knoll. This gives hair face-softening depth and dimension so aging features like a pointy chin or thin lips are less prominent. To do: For naturally curly hair, apply a dollop of a curl cream (we like Function of Beauty Super Shape Curl Hair Cream, Buy from Target, $12.99) through damp hair and scrunch in 2-inch sections while blowdrying with a diffuser attachment. Have straight or wavy hair? Wrap 1-inch sections of hair around a ½-inch curling iron. Once hair is all curled, gently tousle with fingers.

6. Dull complexion? Try balayage.

Actress Regina Hall before and after changing hairstyle
Regina HallKristina Bumphrey/Shutterstock: Matt Baron/BEI/Shutterstock

“Tonal highlights can help create the illusion of a fuller head of hair,” says colorist Mike Petrizzi, who’s worked with Joan Jett and Mandy Moore. But the subtle color lacks contrast that can leave the complexion appearing drab and lackluster.

The Easy Tweak: Add brightness with balayage, says Petrizzi. “This hair painting technique adds subtle light around the face, giving the complexion a shinier, lit-from-within glow.” To do: Grab a hair-painting kit (we like L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference Balayage At-Home Highlighting Kit in Light Brown to Brown, Buy from Amazon, $13.97) and use the included applicator to paint bleach onto various 1-inch sections of hair around the face, starting 2 inches away from roots (this will prevent the need for constant touch-ups). Let process 45 minutes, then rinse.

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A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First for Women.

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