Monday, May 23, 2011

Long Hair Over 40: Get Out Of Their Hair

By Joseph V. Amodio
Special to Newsday
(Reprinted with permission)


Whoever said it was improper for women past age 40 to wear long hair clearly never met Goldie. Or Demi. Or Kirstie.

Actresses such as Hawn, Moore and Alley, along with notables from other walks of life – Maria Shriver, Gloria Steinem, Vera Wang, Bonnie Raitt – have proved such rules obsolete. Baby boomers have noticed and are letting their hair grow.

“Long hair is just part of who I am,” says Amy A. Breyer, a native of Hauppauge, N.Y., now an animal rights attorney in Chicago, who recently turned 40 – and has no intention of cutting her hair.

 Longer hair can make women “feel softer, more feminine,” says celebrity stylist Jim Crawford of the Contact Agency in Manhattan, in opposition to the traditional view that it looks lank and heavy, accentuating sags and droops brought on by gravity.

A flowing mane can look “classy, dignified – regal, even,” notes Jennifer Bahney, founder of Longhairlovers.com. “I’m sure there are many women out there who have been talked into short, trendy cuts because a stylist has told them to look their age,” writes Bahney on her Web log.

“Fifty years ago, a 50- or 60-year-old looked much older than she does now,” says Rodolfo Valentin, owner of salons on Long Island and in Manhattan. Thanks to an increased awareness of fitness and advances in cosmetics, plastic surgery and Botox, “women today can carry off long hair,” he says.
Styling with “tons of texture and lightweight layering” also helps, Crawford says.

Take Steinem. Her 1970s look – so straight and slick it was almost harsh – is a far cry from her current, ethereal style, captured by Brooklyn photographer Joyce Tenneson in her book “Wise Women.” The volume is filled with portraits of known and unknown women ages 65 and up. But it’s Steinem and others who let their hair down who grab your attention.

“As baby boomers age, there’s going to be a lot more of that individualistic spirit, not conforming to the little old lady with the permanent and short hair,” Tenneson says.

But that’s always been the boomers’ modus operandi – break the rules at any age.

“It’s a safe way to push the envelope, to indicate you’re a sexual being even as you get older,” says Valerie Monroe, beauty director at O, the Oprah Magazine.

Keeping hair young

As women age and estrogen levels decline, hair dries out, making it “harder for them to have long hair that looks good,” says stylist Jim Crawford. Below, some tips to keep hair as young as you feel:

Use gentle shampoos with humectants (to retain moisture) and silicone (for sheen), Crawford says. (His picks: Neutrogena’s Triple Moisture or ThermaSilk Moisture Infusing shampoo.)

Skip the all-out dye job; opt for highlights and lowlights for dimension, softness and minimal drying damage.

Have your stylist add layers to your hair according to the shape of your face (shorter layers framing the face soften a severe jaw or forehead; layers on top can elongate a round face).