Long hairstyles for women over 50: fresh style ideas for every hair type

Get inspired by our edit of long hairstyles for women over 50— plus pro tips to keep lengths looking great

Brooke shields pictured with one of the best long hairstyles for women over 50, a long bouncy layered cut
(Image credit: Future/Getty images)

Long hairstyles for women over 50 are not the 'no-no' they were once—very wrongly—considered to be. Pick a flattering style and keep your hair in great condition and you can enjoy the glamorous look, styling versatility, and endless updo options offered by long hair at any age you please. 

It’s a common misconception that once you reach a certain age you've passed the window of opportunity to wear long hairstyles, and should stick to short hairstyles forever more. Hair experts agree that the best hairstyle over the age of 50 is the one that makes you feel your most fabulous self. "There was a time when there were far too many rules regarding the way older women should look, and many would declare that they were too old for long hair", says Nick Willis, Senior Master Stylist at Charles Worthington. "My only rule is that there are no rules! But there are tips that can improve the way you wear your hair and look your best."

Still not convinced? Just look at some of Hollywood's most fabulous women over 50: Jennifer Aniston, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek... the list goes on. All of these grown-up, accomplished stars wear longer styles that look sophisticated and drop-dead-gorgeous. Here's how you can too.

How to pick flattering long hairstyles for women over 50

Long hair, including long hairstyles for women over 50, has never been cooler. But there are some pointers for nailing a fashionable look in 2022. 

  • Embrace grays: "The biggest hair trends for this year are longer, natural styles," confirms Willis. "Celebrities like Michelle Visage and Sarah Jessica Parker are perfect examples of longer hair that is on-trend and that looks sophisticated. They are both using their natural gray hair color to enhance their looks; Visage makes a dramatic statement with her silver streak, while SJP has a softer scattering of highlights in hair that's woven through with gray tones." 

Sarah Jessica Parker with long highlighted hair in a blue suit

Sarah Jessica Parker

(Image credit: Getty images)
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  • Work in layers: In terms of the haircut itself, work with what you've got. Very layered cuts work well with the natural movement of medium to thick hair with beach hair waves or natural hairstyles. Celebrity stylist Laura Polko predicts long-layered shaggy cuts will be very popular this year, saying, "the best part about having this cut is the effortlessness of styling. Scrunch with a serum and you are ready to go." 
  • Think healthy and glossy: If you have naturally fine and straight hair, blunt ends will help a longer style to look thick and healthy, as will opting for bangs hairstyles. Helping this hair type to look great within long hairstyles for women over 50 is all about the condition. "A big trend for me has to be the uber chic and long straight sleek, shiny hair," explains BaByliss ambassador and celebrity session stylist, Syd Hayes. "It’s all about length but also healthy-looking, glossy hair, there is a feeling of power and sophistication that comes with it."
  • Consider length: If you struggle with wispy ends, hair thinning, or simply can't seem to grow your hair as long as you'd like, you may even want to consider subtle extensions. Research which extensions are best for your lifestyle if so, as they can vary hugely in longevity and maintenance.

1. The long loose waves with side bangs

Meg Ryan

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: all | Hair type: fine to thick

Beach waves look great on everyone and add youthful energy to your look. Styling it with side bangs adds an extra dimension and can create the appearance of volume. Achieve beachy texture by plaiting wet hair until dry or by using a mermaid waver wand. 


2. The long and layered natural style

Tyra Banks

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: all | Hair type: thick, curly/natural

Show off your natural hair by wearing it long and adding face-framing layers through the front. These expensive-looking defined curls can be achieved using the best diffuser for curly hair, and the flattering finished look is great for all face shapes.

3. The natural curls

Bernadette Peters

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: all | Hair type: thick, curly

Wear your curly hair with confidence. Curls and coils have never been more on-trend. Using treatments to help reduce frizz and the best shampoo and conditioner to add shine are a great way to reduce maintenance time in the morning.


4. The rounded layers

Lisa Kudrow

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: all except heart | Hair type: fine to thick

Achieve the ultimate voluminous look by adding lots of rounded layers to your mane. This looks especially great with a slight side part. Take a flat iron and straighten your hair with an arched motion through the ends, so the layers will sit nicely together.


5. The long loose curls

Sarah Jessica Parker

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: all | Hair type: fine to thick, curly

Long loose curls will have you looking like you've just stepped off the beach. This style looks great on all face shapes and hair types. If you have a naturally curly hairstyle, make it glossy by adding shine serum after styling. Remember to use heat protectant if you're creating the waves using a flat or curling iron.


6. The long shag haircut

Michelle Pfeiffer

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: all except round | Hair type: fine to medium

Layers, layers, and more layers are how you achieve the ultimate long, shaggy hair look. Ask for curtain bangs or detached bangs at the salon. By drying using a hot brush like the Revlon Hair Dryer Brush you can achieve this beautiful volume and shape.


7. 'The Rachel' 2.0 haircut

Jennifer Anniston

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: oval, heart | Hair type: fine to medium

We all know about the famous Rachel haircut, but let's get acquainted with the Rachel 2.0. Rounded straight hair with thin, long subtle curtain bangs is the way to achieve this look.


8. The youthful tousled waves

Julia Roberts

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: all | Hair type: fine to thick

Get a youthful look by going for some tousled waves. To achieve this look, use one of the best curling irons, but only leave heat on your hair briefly so the waves are looser, then comb through with a paddle brush.


9. The long curtain bangs

Christie Brinkley

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: all except square | Hair type: fine to thick

Curtain bangs are extremely fashionable right now, but you don't have to go for a super short, 1970s look. Longer curtain bangs will seamlessly blend into layers around the front of your hair, so are a bit lower maintenance. 


10. The long crochet braids

Karen Pittman

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: all | Hair type: natural

Crochet locs are a fantastic way to protect your hair whilst looking super stylish. If you have the skills, seek out crochet locs kits to do it yourself at home or head to a hair salon. Crochet locs can last without any maintenance for between four to six weeks.


11. The sweeping side parted style

Marcia Cross

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: all except round | Hair type: fine to medium

Use mousse and a round brush to create a bouncy blow dry, then throw your hair over to one side to create a deep side part and look instantly glam. This will look great on those with fine to medium hair. 


12. The longer locs

Whoopi Goldberg

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: long, oval | Hair type: fine to thick

These locs hit just below shoulder level, making them a perfect length to put up and wear down, without feeling too heavy or cumbersome. Keep locs well-moisturized with deep conditioning treatments and a light misting of hair oil day to day. 


13. The long style with feathered bangs

Sandra Bullock

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: all | Hair type: medium to thick

Spice up a simple, sleek look by adding long layers into your hair with some stunning feathered bangs. The great thing with feathered bangs is they are light and easy to style compared with a full fringe. As they begin to grow out you can sweep them into curtain bangs too.


14. The layered straight style with side bangs

Kate Capshaw

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: heart, oval | Hair type: medium to thick

For a smart and sophisticated look keep your hair straight and add some long layers for shape. Use a round brush or dry with a styler such as the Dyson Airwrap to curve the ends and give the appearance of extra volume. Style with side bangs to make the look stand out more.


15. The long wavy hairstyle

Brooke Shields

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: oval, heart, square | Hair type: medium to thick

You'll have heads turning in this stunning hairstyle. Super long and wavy hair gives an effortless, glam, and youthful look. Regular trims will keep a long style like this in great condition, then simply style with a middle part.


16. The long box braids

Naomi Harris

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: oval, heart | Hair type: braided, natural

Another way to protect your hair is to opt for some gorgeous box braids. There are hundreds of tutorials online for how to achieve this look from home or if you aren't confident, head to a professional hairstylist. 


17. The volumized coily style

Angela Bassett

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: any | Hair type: curly, coily, natural

Rock your coily hair by making it as voluminous as possible. Following the curly girl method will help keep coils in beautiful condition, plus having some layers cut in will really show off your hair's natural body.


18. The long layered hairstyle with bangs

Julianne Moore

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: oval, heart | Hair type: fine to medium 

Adding bangs to long hairstyles is a great way to add interest and shape without losing length. These can be any type of bangs; curtain, feathered or full, your hairstylist can advise what might suit you best.


19. The ultra-long sleek style

Vanessa Williams

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: oval, heart | Hair type: medium to thick

Going simple and straight can have you looking super chic and glamorous on the daily without much maintenance. This modern style with minimal layering looks best with a sharp middle part. 


20. The defined glossy curls

Alex Kingston

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: square, long, heart | Hair type: curly, coily

These bouncy and defined curls look beautiful at just-hitting-the-shoulder length. Add a gentle hair gel or shine serum to your curly locks to make them look super glossy and defined. 


21. The layered curly hairstyle

Andie MacDowell

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Face shape: oval, heart, square | Hair type: medium to thick, curly

Andie MacDowell is always a hair inspiration. If you were blessed with naturally curly hair, wearing it long allows the curls to be pulled down slightly by their own weight, creating a lovely relaxed curl pattern. 


How to maintain long hairstyles for women over 50

So you've chosen which long hairstyles for women over 50 might suit you and had your hair cut—now you need to ensure you keep it looking fresh and healthy. “At the moment I love to recommend Pureology Strength Cure Blonde Shampoo and Conditioner because they will make your grays shine more brightly," says Willis. "The blue color in this product knocks out brassy or yellow tones that you may naturally have in your hair."

“If you choose to color your hair, I recommend color contouring highlighting techniques, where natural-looking colors called 'babylights' are woven in around your face, framing it with bespoke tones to compliment your skin," he continues. "You could also have lowlights woven in between your natural hair to give you a soft radiance with less obvious regrowth." See our guide to the biggest hair color trends for more inspiration. 

Our expert stylist's last must-have is to always use heat protection for hair in your routine. "I recommend Kérastase Resistance Ciment Thermique which will protect your hair from UV and heat, keeping it strengthened from any day-to-day damage."

Pureology Strength Cure Blonde Shampoo and Conditioner | RRP: $26/£19

This vegan, violet-toning winner keeps brassiness at bay, ensuring your blonde or highlights stay as buttery bright as ever with the toning power of purple orchid. It lathers satisfyingly too, despite being sulfate-free, and also strengthens and repairs stressed and damaged strands.


Kerastase Resistance Ciment Thermique | RRP: $38/£24

This industry-favorite blow-dry primer makes such a difference during the pre-style process: Not only does it help detangle, but it softens and imparts shine and smoothness too, reducing breakage on damaged hair.


woman&home thanks Nick Willis of Charles Worthington (opens in new tab) and US Celebrity Stylist Laura Polko (opens in new tab) for their time and expertise.

Lucy is a UK-based beauty journalist who has written for the likes of Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, OK!, Women's Health and more, as well as contributing to woman&home. Her work covers everything from expert skin and haircare tips to the latest product launches and the show-stopping beauty looks spotted backstage at London Fashion Week. During her career she's interviewed some seriously famous faces, from Little Mix to Drag Race royalty The Vivienne, as well as chatting to the industry's leading hairdressers, dermatologists and make-up artists.

With contributions from