“By now, the changes in hair, skin and body are more overt,” says Cunnane-Phillips. “At some point, you’re going to be in peri- or actual menopause, and the hormonal changes reallykick in. Your hair follicles are shrinking, and the change hasbecome noticeable. You may also see short, fine hairs near the temples and hairline.” What does this mean for your cut? “You need to be gentlerwith your styling,” says -Cunnane-Phillips. “Cut back on heat tools and use lower temperature settings. Do all you can to preserve your hair’s integrity and health.”
The hormonal shifts of menopause may also affect “the curl of the hair, the follicles’ strength and the growth rate. Androgen-dependent alopecia [doctor-speak for genetic hair thinning] may be triggered by menopause. In that case, minoxidil [commercial name: Rogaine] has been shown to be very effective,” says Mirmirani.
Women of this age must alsodeal with more visible signs of aging. Skin is more lax. Finelines remain, even when you’re not smiling or frowning. You may have some drooping along the jaw. Overall muscle tone may begin to decrease, adding some bulk to your frame. And as the fat layer in the dermis begins to thin, some women appear more angularand their features stronger—a change that can add character to your face but also make it a little more masculine. A good response to all of the above: strategic layering. “Look at Madonna and Michelle Pfeifer,” says Tricomi. They have sexy, layered, slightly angled cuts that soften their faces. And they get the length right: Their hair is long enough to narrow their silhouette, without looking like the high-maintenance style of a twenty-something.
“This is actually a great time for a shoulder-length style,” says Hershberger. “If your hair is getting finer or thinner, going longer than that can look stringy—while going too short can make hair look sparse.” Midlength cuts with movement, like a longer, layered bob, will soften your features and make hair look healthy and youthful. “Go for a shape that’s a little rounder, not quite as blunt,” says Hunt.
The consensus of our experts: This is not a decade for going to extremes of long or short. Nor is it a time for just giving up. “You see people turn 50 and cut their hair really short,” says Tricomi. “If you’re going short because you have the petite figure for it, great, but don’t do it just because you think your look doesn’t matter anymore.” You should also avoid the opposite extreme: long hair that falls toward your butt. “For one thing, it adds bulk to your body. For another, the cut has to work from the front and the back,” says Blandi. “What’s unsettling is when you see a woman from behind and think she’s a teenager; then she turns around and she’s 55. I think it’s more powerful to look like a stunning, confident woman in her fifties—from every angle.”
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