By Fiona McKim
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, they look both 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, explains Jonathan Andrew, Fudge Professional Global Brand Ambassador. "Long hair is definitely a trend at the moment. I think 2020 has 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."
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 Andrew. "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 the condition becomes more important. Long hair can suit everyone but as you move past 40 you need to maintain optimum condition. 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 equaliser for different face shapes and suitability as you can keep it long but adjust to suit," Jonathan confirms. "For instance, bangs can change the look. Heart shaped faces can go for a choppy, wispy fringe and a longer face can go for a more solid, heavy version. For rounder faces, try shifting your parting and going for something more swept, this can be a fringe or a longer shaped finish."
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 moisturiser, 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). 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). 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 – a celebrity guide
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.
Actor Andie MacDowell, who recently revealed she's embracing her gray hair, always has fantastic hair whether she wears it in a bouncy blow dry or her natural curls.
Actor Naomie's 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.
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 dressing brush and running it down your hair to finish the style.
Naomi 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, moisturising masks and good blow dry tips are all your friends.
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 not-quite-blonde not-quite-brown shade, to this sleek cut with face framing layers that hit right around her jaw for flattering shape.
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 up-do or ponytail, and although it might require some skill to master at home would be a fabulous choice for a party.
Duchess of Cambridge
Catherine's signature blow-dry 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.
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.
Not satisfied with having the most glorious hair colour 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.
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 centre 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.
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!
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!
OK, 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.
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!
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