Long hairstyles will never go out of style, so forget that hackneyed rule that says you have to chop it all off when you hit 40. With the right cut and care, either looks fabulous at every age.
The trick is getting the right style for long hair and making sure your hair is in great condition. Blow drying with the best hair dryer is crucial, as is using heat protection for hair, the best shampoo and conditioner, and visiting your the salon for regular trims.
Getting rid of the notion that short haircuts over 40 are mandatory, more women than ever women are embracing length with back-grazing styles like the butterfly haircut, explains Jonathan Andrew, Fudge Professional Global Brand Ambassador. "Long hair is definitely a trend at the moment. I think the past few years have given people a lot more time to think about their look and where they want to take it. For people considering growing out haircuts or pushing to get the longer hair they have always wanted, this has been the year to do it." So if you were wondering should women over 40 cut their hair simply because of age, that would be a no.
Sound familiar? If you're embracing longer hair then you also want to ensure that your cut suits your face shape and hair texture. From blunt bangs to update your look and flattering face-framing layers, we've curated our pick of the most flattering long hairstyles and all the advice you need to make them work.
What about long hairstyles for older women? Can I keep my long hair past 40?
"I think the stigma that the older you get the shorter your hair should be isn’t as relevant as it once was," says Jonathan. "People are far more creative and open minded when it comes to hair these days and there are so many options available."
"For me, when your hair gets longer as you get older, its condition becomes more important. Long hair can suit everyone, but as you move past 40 you need to maintain optimum condition." Masks and treatments can help with this, as can supplements such as biotin for hair. "This brings in so many opportunities to show it off with a beautiful, simple blow-dry; adding in some movement keeps it feeling and looking fresh, but adds a chic finish to it. You just have to look at J-Lo to see how impactful longer hair can be."
Which face shapes suit long hairstyles?
The good news is just about anyone can find long hairstyles to suit their face shape and hair type. It's all in the shaping and style—a good hairdresser will be able to tailor your hairstyle of choice to your face shape.
"For me, long hair is the great equalizer for different face shapes and suitability as you can keep it long but adjust to suit. For instance, bangs can change the look," Jonathan confirms. He details what kind of fringe suits each face shape best:
- Round: "Rounder faces can try shifting your parting and going for something more swept; this can be a fringe or a longer shaped finish," Jonathan says.
- Heart-shaped: He says that heart-shaped faces can go for a choppy, wispy fringe.
- Long: A longer face can go for a more solid, heavy version of a fringe.
- Oval: Good news if you have an oval face shape, as it's the most versatile and suits pretty much any style. "The ball is in your court and most things will work. You can see here that the length can stay long but tailored to your face shape," Jonathan explains. "I always try to encourage some long soft invisible layers to add shape and movement unless we are going for a structured one-length finish."
How to keep long hairstyles in good condition
Naturally the key to maintaining healthy long hair is keeping it in as good condition as possible. This means regular trims, of course, and reducing the amount of heat you use on your hair—try to air dry hair at least once a week. After that, it all comes down to daily maintenance.
"It’s all in the routine," Jonathan stresses. "When talking to my clients I try to bring in similarities from other skill sets, like skincare. Most women are familiar with a cleanser and moisturizer, but usually there are day creams and night creams, eye serums, oils, the list can go on. The same principle comes in with haircare.
"A great shampoo and conditioner is the key, try Fudge Professional Damage Rewind ($14.75/£13, Beauty Bay (opens in new tab)). This repairs your hair and makes it 90% stronger in one use. Using this will be a huge boost but I always say once a week treat yourself. Leave the conditioner on longer and wrap your hair in a warm towel to create a more luxurious experience and boost the results."
"To keep on theme, try some Blow Dry Aqua Primer ($17.50/£15.50, Beauty Bay (opens in new tab)). This contains hyaluronic acid which repairs your hair inside and out whilst boosting hold, shine and heat protection to keeps the condition working towards the same goal."
The best long hairstyles for women(opens in new tab)
Oh to have the shiny locks of Amal Clooney! This gorgeous vintage inspired style is curled to perfection. Be sure to use regular hair masks and a shine spray if you want to recreate this look.(opens in new tab)
Andie MacDowell(opens in new tab)
Speaking of undone color, actress and red carpet stunner Margot Robbie makes a pretty good case for showing off some roots. She pairs her smudgy root area with a stunning blonde, which is then styled in sleek S-shaped waves. If you have a curling iron on hand, this is one of the best times to break it out.(opens in new tab)
Perfectly oval face shapes like Sandra Oh can get away with most looks, but a tightly curled, side-parted long hairstyle softens up her features even more and provides a bit of a youthful punch. Strategic auburn lowlights break up her dark color and give her ringlets some dimension.(opens in new tab)
Actor Naomie Harris' hairstyle is almost all one length, which works perfectly with those beautiful natural curls. That length creates weight that 'pulls' the hair so the curls sit nicely at the top and are allowed to be bouncy and beautiful at the ends. Subtle highlights accentuate the ends, giving them extra definition.(opens in new tab)
Lucy Liu shows how to make long hair look ultra special without having to spend hours piling it up on top of your head. With a heavy side part that oozes glamour, and a very subtle wave swept to the side, she accentuates her face shape while showing off those flowing locks. Shine is crucial here, so try misting a gloss spray on a brush and running it down your hair to finish the style.(opens in new tab)
Tennis great Serena Williams showcases long, natural curls that have lots of definition and lightweight movement towards the end. Those with natural curls can emulate the look by doing a wash-and-go style (we have a curly girl method for guidance) and do best to ask your stylist for a cut with some layering at the ends to break up any heaviness. A high-contrast color like this showstopping honey-copper is also wildly flattering on deeper skintones.(opens in new tab)
There's something about Aussie actress Isla Fisher's shiny copper locks that always take center stage. Typically styled in a classic, middle-parted wave, we surmise it's the expertly applied highlights and lowlights that give her signature color a lot of sexy dimension. Subtle ear-length layers also give the look a bit more swing and movement.(opens in new tab)
Supermodel Naomi Campbell pulls off waist-length hair like nobody else. Here they are curled around a large barrel tong, from the cheekbone down for beautiful, modern glamour. If you are considering an ultra long hairstyle (extensions or otherwise) bear in mind this is a high maintenance look, so regular trims, moisturizing masks and good blow dry tips are all your friends.(opens in new tab)
We've all probably tried to copy Jen's hair at some point, haven't we? The reason her 'do always looks good is because she knows what suits her, from that expensive-looking "bronde" shade, to this sleek cut with face-framing layers that hit right around her jaw for a flattering shape.(opens in new tab)
A blonde is anything but basic on model-turned-beauty entrepreneur Rosie Huntington-Whitely, who opts for trendy "money piece" highlights on either side of her face to open up her features. Emulate this red carpet-worthy look with loose waves and lots of shine serum.(opens in new tab)
Catherine always brings the glamour, and this side-swept style is pure Hollywood. Her ultra-long dark hair is puled back from her face perfectly displaying her facial features, then swept to the side and cascaded down one shoulder. This style is a modern and unique take on the usual updo or ponytail, and although it might require some skill to master at home would be a fabulous choice for a party.
Fan of a straight-haired look but want to oomph it up? Take a page out of Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon's book and ask for micro-thin highlights the next time you're in the salon: They look amazingly natural against blown-out locks and instantly elevate even the most casual of hairstyles.(opens in new tab)
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge
Kate Middleton's signature blowdry has long been our hair inspiration, but her look recently has been all about incorporating huge, glamorous curls into her long hair. You can bet we'll be trying this out for ourselves at home using hot rollers and plenty of hairspray.(opens in new tab)
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex
We love how often Meghan Markle changes her style and we particularly adore these super-long glamorous waves. The centre-parting looks very modern and allows her long locks and shaggy fringe to fall down and flatter her face, then loose curls finish off the look beautifully.(opens in new tab)
Not satisfied with having the most glorious hair color in the industry, Julianne Moore is also giving us hair envy with this style. The modern middle parting and cool slightly angular waves look fresh and youthful. To copy the look, read our guide on how to curl hair with straighteners next.(opens in new tab)
Nicole Kidman is no stranger to red carpet glam, and this Old Hollywood style is right up there in terms of classic staples. She breaks up the usual middle-part take by doing a side-swept version of big-barreled curls, which can be achieved with a 1.5" curling iron.
New to the world of curling tools? Our roundup of the best curling irons should help get you started.(opens in new tab)
Sarah Jessica Parker
SJP is another celeb who has stuck with her signature long hairstyle for decades, and it's working as well now as ever. Preferring a center part, Sarah tends to keep her lengths sleek but relaxed. Instead of ironing the life out of your hair, consider one of the best hair straightener brushes instead.(opens in new tab)
Demi is known for her amazing long, shiny hair, and tends to keep it pretty understated on the styling front. If you find you prefer your long hair to one side and poker straight, like Demi, keep it that way. Or, if you prefer having it up, make that your signature style. It's certainly worked for Demi all these years!(opens in new tab)
Penélope Cruz is another star who has had her signature long hairstyle for years, and looks incredible however she wears her hair. Here it's kept poker straight and ultra shiny—don't forget your heat protectant if you're recreating this look!(opens in new tab)
Okay, so we may not all be supermodels, but we can all take inspiration from from Heidi's relaxed long hair cut. These shaggy bangs look brilliant and modern and are surprisingly low maintenance compared with heavier options.(opens in new tab)
The reason Sophia's signature hair looks so good is because it looks so healthy. Those ends speak of regular trims and that shine can only be achieved with plenty of TLC. Don't get tempted to skip cuts and blast your hair on the highest heat just because you're growing it—pin this picture on your mirror and think care, care, care.
Consider your crash course in the best long hairstyles for women complete!
woman&home thanks Jonathan Andrew (opens in new tab) of Fudge Professional for his time and expertise.