Move over blunt cuts with harsh lines — it’s time to make way for soft, face-framing layered hair, which is especially flattering for women over 50. As opposed to a straight, one-dimensional cut that can reveal signs of thinning, leave hair looking limp and cause the face to look droopy, “layers add volume to thinning hair, slim the face and bring a look of youthfulness to one’s appearance thanks to their bounce,” explains celebrity stylist Cody Renegar, who works with Marie Osmond and Gwyneth Paltrow.
What is layered hair?
A layered cut — which entails a stylist chopping various sections at different lengths to add depth and dimension and falls anywhere between the chin and a few inches below the shoulders — works for any hair type. For thick hair, it will help reduce weight and add movement. If you have very fine hair, it will help it look more thicker by adding movement.
“Layers counteract the thinning or flattening of the hair that occurs naturally with age,” explains celebrity stylist Jason Tavares. “Layering also provides versatility in styling options, allowing women to achieve different looks and adapt to changing hair textures as they age.”
What to ask your stylist for
Most hairstylists understand the assignment when a client asks for layers or will even suggest the style to you. They can provide recommendations based on your hair type, face shape and desired outcome.
- If your face is square: Ask for layers that range from short to medium can help soften hard angles and diminish the boxiness of this face shape.
- If your face is round: Ask for longer layers can help create the illusion of length in the face, which will elongate rounder cheeks and jawlines so the face looks slimmer.
- If your face is heart: Ask for longer layers with wispy bangs will help to de-emphasize a prominent forehead and balance a smaller or pointier chin.
- If your face is long: Ask for shaggy layers that hit shoulder length, this will pull the eye up to “shorten” the face.
Stylist tip: It’s always a good idea to bring photos for your stylist (or screenshot them on your smartphone) so they can envision exactly what you’re looking for. Scroll through to find the shot you’d like to show to your stylist.
Celebrity inspiration for layered hair
As always, celebrity photos can provide plenty of inspiration for layered hair over 50. They have access to the best stylists in the world and often have the most iconic styles.
If your face is heart-shaped: Try Jennifer Aniston’s long layered hair
The Friends actress was smart enough not to stray from the style she made famous. She’s still rocking some variation of the “Rachel” of the 90s, except with longer layers. “Her classic face-framing layers help to soften her defined jawline,” explains Renegar.
If your face is long: Try Gayle King’s fringed layered bob
The CBS This Morning co-host keeps herself looking much younger than her years with her shaggy, layered hair — a style that softens her face and pulls the eye up to her cheeks as not to drag her face down.
If your face is square : Try Jennifer Garner’s shoulder length layered bob
The stunning 13 Going on 30 actress’s medium-length blended layers on a shoulder-length cut, creates bounce that helps soften her more square jaw.
If your face is round: Try Annie Potts’ upswept layered pixie
The ‘bixie,’ or bob pixie, is perfect for those with rounder faces like Annie’s. The crop’s swoop of long layers at the top pulls the eye up giving the Designing Women star an instant slimming- and face-lifting effect.
Want to give yourself layered hair at home?
Pro-stylist Brad Mondo offers this tutorial:
How to maintain your layered hair
For most people, this is a pretty low-maintenance cut that you can just dry and go.
“For curly layered styles, you’ll want to use a diffuser on low heat until it’s almost dry, then let it finish air drying to retain moisture in the hair,” advises Renegar.
For straight hair, “do a blowout using a hair dryer with a round brush to give the layers body and bounce,” he explains.
“Using styling tools like curling irons, flat irons or volumizing products like Big Sexy Hair Volumizing Gel (Buy from Ulta, $19.95) can help to achieve specific styles and enhance the layered look,” adds Tavares.
Jené Luciani Sena is a veteran journalist and internationally-renowned bestselling author of The Bra Book: An Intimate Guide to Finding the Right Bra, Shapewear, Swimsuit, and More! and Get It!: A Beauty, Style, and Wellness Guide to Getting Your #It# Together. She’s also a style, bra and beauty expert regularly seen on shows like Access Hollywood and NBC’s Today.