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Over 40 Hair: Oh, the Conundrums!

I have hair issues, people. I think this is because I was spoiled by good, thick hair when I was younger — hair that I could do anything with — but now it will not cooperate with me at all. (Oh, woe is me, right? Trust me, I’m fully aware that this is a petty problem, but let’s continue anyhow, shall we …)

So, for a long time, wearing a short pixie cut worked for me. It was super quick, but it still looked like I had a “style.” Here is a picture circa 2009, when my nephew Benjamin was born. Okay, so this isn’t the best photo of this haircut since it doesn’t look like I had bothered to to even shower that day! But you can see that it’s very short — especially the front, around the forehead.

benjamin

It is that shortness in the front that made growing it out very slow (read “painful.”) It’s been years now and that front part has still not yet hit my chin in length. Here is a “grow out” stage photograph with my hair in a bazillion different lengths, circa 2010. (Also, because I considered my hair a lost cause at this point, I didn’t bother to get it coloured or highlighted so it’s a bazillion different colours too!)

However, despite the annoyance of looking at my hair everyday, I still kept growing it out because I somehow imagined it would make me look younger to have long hair. Like Jennifer Aniston. You know, because she and I have just soooo much in common. Holy delusional.

jennifer aniston hairstyles

Note her gorgeous chiseled facial features. Me, not so much. I have a very round face. Even when I was much thinner, I had chubby cheeks!

Here is what I looked like when the lengths started to get even, circa 2011. (My hair is not this straight, the hair dresser styled it for me and of course, I was never able to replicate it. Don’t you hate that?)

I didn’t mind it this length, actually. But I still persisted. The thought of a ponytail was so enticing … I just could not get past that ponytail dream! Even if I could not have Jennifer’s look, perhaps, thought my-still-delusional-self, I could do more of a long, wavy Debra Messing look? Here is what I look like with Debra’s hair planted on top of my head:

Thinking that I could get my hair this long, this thick, and this wavy took the delusional cake. My over-40 hair is sooo thin and wispy (as you can see in the “before” image or in this post) and I am starting to give up hope that it is even capable of growing past my shoulders.

So here are my hair conundrums for your commentary:

  • Do you think certain hairstyles are a no-no after a certain age? (Besides celebs, of course. They are exempt from everything. Including pregnancy stretch marks it would seem.)
  • If I give up my quest for long hair, how much will I regret the versatility and sheer practicality of getting that elusive ponytail?
  • Has your hair changed as you’ve gotten older? And if yes, did you change your style to accommodate it?
  • How frequently do you go to a hair salon? (I am not good with upkeep commitments, I’m afraid. But hair can really make a difference in how I feel so I’m thinking I need to put more effort in on this front.)
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Comments

  1. We all have our frustrations with hair and usually want a type of hair we don’t have. I have super thick wavy hair and at  almost 38 it’s still thick. My hair grows like weeds and I now have it down to my shoulders (the bob pic on my blog is a bit more than a year old and styled). My hair is so thick that the hairdresser cuts out thickness like a mad women every time because I get the dreaded tent or lamp shade look…ugggh. I try to go to the hair dresser every 8 weeks. I don’t highlight my hair anymore since having kids –  too time consuming and too expensive. I am also super lazy and just wash and go – with some effort, styling products and a hairdryer I could have a nice do, but I don’t do that… My hair has changed because I’m getting more and more gray hairs…
    I know some that have used extensions to get the long hair and to see if  they even like the ponytail look. I love your hair curly short or in that bob.

  2. denielsen says:

    I’ve been thinking about this a bit recently because my hair – which has always been thick and straight and long except for a brief period where I had it cut into a short bob (which I also liked) – is now feeling frizzy and dry (to me) and am now starting to wonder if I shouldn’t give up and get it cut.
     
    I don’t ever dry or style it – so any cut that needs work in the morning makes me afraid. I love being able to ponytail it too. I visit the hairdresser about, oh, annually.  But I’m not sure I can get away much longer with the carefree “whatever” look that has worked for me for the past 40 years…sigh…

    • coffeewithjulie says:

       @denielsen The thing with a cut,e short hair cut is that you MUST be religious about getting it trimmed! There is a fine line between a pixie cut and a frumpy middle-aged woman cut. Also, since you’ve never had short hair, I need to tell you that you get bed head every single day and must shower it out, unlike longer hair. So if you do go shorter (mine is so dry too and I never even use a blow dryer on it!), I’d recommend a bob because it is still maintenance free like long hair. Stella’s new inverted bob looks fabulous even first thing in the morning and she just lets it dry natural after a shower without even brushing it.

      • denielsen says:

         @coffeewithjulie Yeah…that’s what worries me. The maintenance:) Don’t think I’m ready to go really short, but might consider a shoulder-length cut and style. Lets me keep the ponytail that way! 

  3. Oh, I could talk hair all day. I fought with mine for 25 years because I could never figure out how to style my natural frizz. I used to spend a stupid amount of time with the blow dryer and never be able to get it to look nice.
    Now at 40, I like my hair for the first time in my life. Training my hair not to need to be washed every day, learning to let it dry curly, but most of all, the invention of the flat iron have made me enjoy having hair longer than it has been since I was 10. I hardly spend any time on it any more, because even when I do straighten it, it lasts 4-5 days with just a touch up in the morning. The only real problem I have is the wretched grey, and I feel like I’m on the hamster wheel of trying to keep up with my roots all the time. Still, my hair dresser kindly sells me the good colour, so I just go to him every three months or so for a good trim and for him to even out the colour where I miss.
     
    For me, women look younger with some length in their hair – not crazy long or anything. And I must say the last time I saw you Julie, I thought you were rocking your longer hair. Truly, gorgeous.
     
     
     

    • coffeewithjulie says:

      You have amazing hair! In fact, I have a photo of us from BOLO as my desktop screen image right now! So long and shiny and gorgeous — enjoy it! :)

  4. I was just thinking about this very thing last week. My kids were taking daily swim lessons and next to them in the pool was a senior’s swim aerobics class. About 30 women showed up each day for the class, all at least 60, all with the exact same haircut – very short grey hair clipped all over. I also took a seniors’ tap class this year, and with my shoulder-length hair, I had by far the longest hair – everyone else had super short hair.
     
    It’s made me wonder when the point comes where the seniors’ haircut kicks in. I don’t feel quite ready for it yet, but it’s creeping up on me. Already I’m getting tired of bothering to cover the grey, and if I’m going to let the grey kick in, maybe going super short is one way to just get it over with. Plus my grey hair keeps getting curlier and curlier, which is hard to control, and it’s all just such a bother.
     
    I do like a ponytail, though. So I’m keeping the length for now – check back with me in six months :).

    • coffeewithjulie says:

      See … THIS is the exact reason why I was growing my hair in the first place! I know eventually I’ll have short, silver hair so I figured I might as well as do longer hair now. I’d keep your ponytail too! 

  5. DaniGirl says:

    Hahaha, that Debra Messing hair on you is fabulous!  This is so timely, as I just made an appt to have my mane tamed. I am so vain about my hair and get it cut every six weeks or so. It used to be mostly straight with waves when it got humid, but I’ve noticed in the last year or so that it’s WAY curlier than it used to be, even on dry days.  I’ve always wanted curlier hair and of course now that I have it I miss the straight look. Ugh.  My biggest debate is over covering the grey — I’ve never coloured my hair and I’m waffling over whether to start.  I could talk hair all day too!  Was yours like Stella’s when you were young? I want her hair!

    • coffeewithjulie says:

       @DaniGirl Stella has amazing hair! Mine was very similar, but not as thick. My hair has actually always been fine, but I had lots of it. I think it’s the gray that really throws so many of us off (I don’t deal with it right now) but it’s a ton of upkeep to colour it and the texture is a lot more coarse. I can’t believe you’ve never coloured your hair before! I’ve had every colour under the sun since I was old enough to get my hands on a box or pay for it myself!  

  6. Stephanie says:

    I would love to have had my moms hair… thick, pin straight, and no greys until her late 40s. I got my dad’s hair instead: fine, curly, and found my first grey at 16. UGH! So I go every 6 weeks so can get my roots done. At 39 I’m totally salt and pepper under here. No thanks. I can’t let my hair get too long, it takes the bounce out of my curls with the weight and makes it much more obvious how fine my hair is, so chin length it is. Anything shorter and I find it accentuates that I gained weight (lol).
     
    For the record, I really like the length you have now. The curls are super cute on you (and make you look younger than when your hairstylist straightened it, so yay!)

    • coffeewithjulie says:

      Hmm … if curls make me look younger then I better keep it curly!! :) My whole family seemed to get full heads of thick hair. I think I got my grandmother’s hair. Hers is soft and thin and she has never dyed it and at age 87 still has no grey hair! 

  7. Stefteach says:

    I have always had long, thick, curly hair. I dreamed of Crystal Gayle hair as a youngster, except mine was so curly. I have given in to the curls,keep it about shoulder length and MINIMAL maintenance. If I go twice a year to the hairdressers, that’s me. I colour it myself. Just for fun. Started going gray in university. My rule of thumb is, no one likes their own hair. So I live with it. But I wanna go to that website and put Crystal Gayle hair on me…

    • coffeewithjulie says:

       @Stefteach I don’t even know who Crystal Gale is! But I do know how bad I wanted flipped, feathered hair like Heather Locklear when I was a teenager! I could never pull it off because I always had one-length hair with no layers for dance classes (bun head!). On that website, I put Katy Perry purple hair on too! :)

  8. Stefteach says:

    I’m not that much older than you… Maybe cause my dad like country. Check her out…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_Gayle

    • coffeewithjulie says:

       @Stefteach LOL! I know we are close in age! The name just means nothing to me. We never listened to country music, so I guess that’s why :)

  9. I’ve learnt to accept my simple, straight, chin-length bob as I’ve matured (see, it’s not an age thing, it’s maturity!), but I miss my ponytail immensely. Remembering the easy mornings and post-gym ponytail routine, I say don’t give up!
     
    Besides, I love your waves and you’ve passed the worst in-between stage, so now a ponytail isn’t far off! It’s much easier at this point to let it grow out and then decide to cut it if a ponytail isn’t worth it.
     
    For me, hair maintenance is like clockwork…every 6 weeks to maintain the boring bob and colour.

    • coffeewithjulie says:

      Oh, I don’t think bobs are boring! They are so chic, so Anna Wintour! (Thank you for the encouragement on the ponytail front.)

  10. SaraMPhoto says:

    I’ve had the same haircut for 10+ years: longish bob with bangs and no colour or highlights. My MIL, who’s a stylist, cuts it every 4-6 weeks in our backyard or bathroom. I’m all about low maintenance :) I think style should be less dependent on age and taken into consideration with lifestyle, face, and personality.

    • coffeewithjulie says:

       @SaraMPhoto I think you’ve got a point about lifestyle, face, and personality — as well as the kind of hair you have too. You sure have a great thing going with your MIL! 

  11. I’m in my (ahem) forties now and I’m keeping my hair below my shoulders.  I do notice it’s not as thick as it once was, and also that if I go just *this* much past a certain length it starts looking like hell.  But I will always believe that longer hair is easier to maintain than shorter.
     
    1.  I have a wicked cowlick up-front and no chin.  Thus, no pixie cuts for me.
    2.  I get my hair cut MAYBE once every 2-3 months (see above re: looking like hell)
    3.  Said haircut occurs for 20 bucks at Supercuts (because really, how can they screw up “long layers”?)
    4.  I don’t have to shower/wet my hair every day.  I could never get away with that with shorter hair.  Right now, I can fluff yesterday’s ‘do with the blow dryer, add a few turns of my curling iron et voila, I look, er, mediocre.
    5.  If all else fails, ponytail.

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