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Finally, there is a new science, along with new hairstyles, to give your looks a magical lift.
Lose some length • Uber-long hair is a tough look for over-40 women. "I call it the '1661' a woman's long hair makes her look 16 from the back, but from the front you see she actually is nearing retirement age," said Pantene celebrity hair stylist Danilo. A universally flattering length is to the collarbone. "A cut that grazes the collar and has face-framing layers also draws attention away from an aging neck," said Jet Rhys, a San Diego hair stylist.
But don't overdo it • How short is too short? There's no rule, but keep in mind that the end point of your cut emphasizes the facial feature next to it, notes Rhys. So if you're concerned about a sagging jawline, don't ask for a chin-length bob. And remember that a short 'do isn't an excuse to hang up your blowdryer. "Too many women think a short cut is a free pass to forgo styling, but when hair has no polish, it can look matronly," Rhys said. Cropped styles are modern and youthful when they're smooth and sleek; if those qualities don't come naturally to your hair, use a frizz-fighting product before styling.
Embrace change • "If you have the same 'do you had 10 years ago, it's time for a new look," said Nick Arrojo, owner of Arrojo Studio in New York City. "You're not wearing the same clothes why have the same hair?" If you're leery of drastic change, take baby steps. "Something as simple as moving your part can update your look," said Rhys.
Try new ingredients • High-tech ones aren't limited to face lotions. A slew of anti-agers, such as niacidamide and caffeine, are debuting in hair products. They offer cosmetic benefits, such as smoothness, shine and a generally more youthful appearance, said Jeni Thomas, of Proctor & Gamble Research and Development. "The hair cuticle is similar to the top layer of skin."
Redo your hue • Whether you hit the salon or take the DIY route, subtle tweaks to your color can make a huge difference. "A woman's complexion lightens and becomes more translucent as she ages, so what looked great when she was 25 may not look so good when she's 50," explained Arrojo.
"Think about the hair you had as a child," suggested Brad Johns, color director at the Salon & Spa at Saks Fifth Avenue, New York. "Go back to that color family, whether it was blond, brunette or red. Anything monotone looks severe and aging, so add highlights and multiple tones throughout." When in doubt, err on the lighter side dark hues create too harsh a contrast with paling skin.
Getting fringe benefits • Bangs can camouflage forehead lines the "Bangtox" effect but not all do it equally well. "A blunt bang that hangs straight across the forehead isn't for everyone. It can emphasize aging features and more mature skin," said Sarah Potempa, stylist for Aussie Haircare.
New hair products to try • Say good-bye to frizz. ColorProof HeatProof Anti-Frizz Blow Dry Creme ($28, salons) fights frizz if you use the product before styling your hair. And for a high-tech ingredient that moisturizes, try L'Oreal Paris Advanced Haircare Power Moisture Shampoo ($5, drugstores), with sodium hyaluronate, a common moisture-attracting skin-care ingredient.