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12 Hairstyle Mistakes That Age Your Face

Aging can be a beautiful fact of life—but there's no need to rush it. Slow things down by choosing the right hairstyle for you.

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Essential reading before your next salon visit

Women are constantly bombarded with tips on how to look half their age, but what if you just want to look amazing for your age (thank you very much)? One of the simplest ways to do that is to pay more attention to your hair. Think of your haircut, hair color, and hairstyle a bit like you would makeup or that seriously sexy blouse that always makes you feel like a million bucks—only in the case of hair, it’s game on every single day. The right hair for your face and lifestyle can make sure you look like your absolute best, most refreshed, and most ready-to-take-on-the-universe version of yourself. And then there are these 12 common hairstyle mistakes that will age your face. Here’s how to avoid them.

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Falling for flat hair

A center part can be super chic, there’s no doubt about it. But as we age, our hair thins. Even those of us with medium to thick hair will experience thinning, according to celebrity hairstylist Nunzio Saviano at Nunzio Saviano Salon in New York City. “If you’re in your 50s wearing your hair parted in the middle, it isn’t flattering,” Saviano says. Instead, you need to increase your hair’s volume so you don’t bring attention to this age-related problem. Saviano suggests either a different (usually shorter) haircut, a change in the way you part your hair, or a product like Kenra Platinum Dry Texture Spray #6 to increase hair density. Here are some more tips on how to care for and style thin hair.

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Infrequent trims

Another aging mistake that goes hand in hand with flat hair is keeping your hair way too long for your face shape and never trimming it. The fact that we associate longer hair with youth has a lot to do with the images we constantly see in films and on television (from Disney princesses to soap opera actresses to major celebs). But Saviano says the opposite effect takes hold as we age: Longer hair looks thinner, and thinner hair is aging. His preferred look? “The Lob. Collarbone-length hair or a bob looks chic,” he says. “If you have a long face, a bob can shorten it, and if you can have a round face, it can lengthen it. As you get older, it works on everyone.” For more inspiration, check out these 40 best hairstyles for women over 40.

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Not framing your face

Even if you want to keep your hair all one length, you should add a few subtle, face-framing layers to draw attention to your most flattering facial features and lift your face for a more refreshed appearance. Some women aren’t sure where their first face-framing layer should begin, and Saviano says there’s one solution that works for everyone: “The perfect place for layers to start is the cheekbone—that brings out the cheekbone, which is an instant face-lift. Face framing creates body around the face, and with these shorter pieces, you can flick the bangs to the side or even do curtain bangs.” These are the common hair myths we still believe that are ruining our hair.

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Getting the wrong bangs

Bangs aren’t the singular entity we sometimes think they are. There are a number of different bangs styles, like blunt bangs, baby bangs, curtain bangs, side-swept bangs…and the list goes on. If you’re tempted to cut bangs, Saviano is your biggest supporter, but he cautions that it’s important to keep three factors in mind. “You have to get bangs that suit your lifestyle—some require trims every two to three weeks,” he explains. “They also have to be suitable for your hair texture and for your face shape. If one of those three things is off, you aren’t going to enjoy your bangs.” If your hair is very thin and you’re worried that bangs will take away from your overall look, Saviano recommends sticking with cheekbone-framing fringe.

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Going too dark

Raven hair looks beautiful, but after a certain age, hair that is too dark and all one shade looks flat. A single process that’s super dark lacks highlights and lowlights, which means all of the attention will be on your skin. If you would rather not have a spotlight thrown on fine lines and wrinkles, it’s best to incorporate a mix of shades to achieve a more sun-kissed look. “Going too dark with a single process can look too harsh and severe,” says Felicia Dosso, a colorist at Nunzio Saviano Salon. “Softer, more natural tones are more youthful.” Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to bleach your hair blond, but shades of caramel, chestnut, and light coffee can create a beautiful balance in dark hair. Brush up on these haircut style terms before your next salon visit.

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Cutting layers that are too short

Cutting layers in your hair is a little bit like enjoying cotton candy or a Pavlova. A few bites (or layers) can be breathtaking, but overdoing it can lead to a wicked stomachache (or in your hair’s case, very thin ends). “A lot of women cut layers that are too short to make it look like there’s more body in their hair,” Saviano says. “But you’re making the hair look thinner when it is over-layered. That hair has to come from someplace, and it’s always cut from the bottom, so it makes the bottom look thin.” Bring in plenty of photos when you visit your salon for a cut, but be sure your desires work with your hair type—and not some random model’s hair—especially when it comes to layering. I’m not coloring my own hair during quarantine—here’s why.

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Overdoing it with conditioners

There’s a fine line between keeping your hair conditioned so that it stays soft and shiny and attacking it with heavy-duty conditioning treatments that only end up weighing your hair down and making strands look greasy and limp. If you have thick, curly, and coarse hair, a deep conditioner like DevaCurl One Condition Original can tame frizz and make locks gorgeously glossy. But it’s important to read labels and choose a formula that’s right for your hair type. Saviano says he generally recommends lightweight conditioners that are rinsed out. One to try: Pureology Hydrate Sheer Conditioner. Plus, find out if your shampoo and conditioner have to match.

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Asking for ashy tones

A quality colorist isn’t there to just mix up whatever colors you throw at the wall and apply them to your hair. These hair-care professionals aren’t only knowledgeable about shades—they also know which hues suit your skin tone and eye color and make you look even more stunning, as well as which will leave your skin looking dull. On some women, ash-brown, beige, or vanilla highlights can look gorgeous, but if your goal is to look more youthful, they aren’t always the best choice. “Ashy-toned highlights can make hair look dull and give off a grayish cast,” Dosso says. “Light reflects better off of more neutral, warmer tones, which ultimately creates shine.”

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Neglecting your scalp

The anti-aging industry is a multibillion-dollar business, and many women spend a ton of money on skin care products and treatments like Botox and fillers. The biggest hair mistake that Saviano says he sees women making as they age is spending money on everything else and neglecting their scalps. “The scalp has to be taken care of just as much as the face,” Saviano explains. “A lot of times, women and men are uneducated about the scalp. You can keep the follicles strong with diet, and getting scalp treatments when you get a haircut really makes a difference.” If you’re concerned about thinning and shedding hair, a drug-free supplement like Nutrafol, which contains stress-busting, hair-strengthening ingredients including ashwagandha, saw palmetto, and biotin, can help. Here are 7 sneaky reasons your hair is falling out.

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Using cheap shampoo

You don’t have to go into debt creating a hair care regimen that keeps your hair and scalp healthy, but you should probably quit your $3 drugstore shampoo and conditioner habit. That tip goes triple if the products you use contain sulfates, which strip color fast and are extremely drying. Upgrade your hair care stash so that you’re always using color-safe products that contain nourishing ingredients. And don’t forget to add a clarifying shampoo like Joico K-PAK Color Therapy Shampoo to your routine at least once a week. “A good clarifying shampoo removes buildup like dry shampoo,” Saviano says. “You can’t walk around with dry shampoo for a week—your scalp has to breathe and be clean.” Don’t miss these other everyday mistakes that are aging your hair.

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Placing highlighting foils in the wrong place

Highlighting your hair is an art form—not exactly one you want to leave up to untrained hands, a box of drugstore dye, and spotty bathroom lighting. Just as the color of your highlights can age you or make you look more youthful and refreshed, so can the placement of those highlights. Even if you aren’t asking your stylist for ’90s zebra stripes (good riddance), there are ways to place foils that work in your favor—and ways that work against you.

“Non-dimensional highlights, or too heavy of a highlighting pattern, will create too solid of an overall color,” Dosso says. “By leaving enough space between each foil instead of doing them back to back, you allow for there to be depth within the hair, which is more youthful and natural-looking.” If you’re done with dye, check out these colorist-approved tricks for going gray gracefully.

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Wearing “girly” accessories

We’re all for everyone wearing whatever makes them feel good inside—and if that means bows, glittery barrettes, and oversize florals on headbands, so be it. But if your goal is to find hairstyles that aren’t going to age you, some of the girlier accessories out there aren’t your best choices. You can still rock a headband or put your hair up into a ponytail or bun, of course, but you should probably forgo colorful scrunchies and clips. Instead, it’s more flattering to opt for simple, elegant, chic accessories like this satin headscarf, simple pearl barrettes, and elastic bands. Here are another 15 style mistakes that make you look older.