These are good hair years for most women, says Valerie Callender, MD, an associate professor of dermatology at Howard University. “Follicle diameter continues to increase until you hit your 40th birthday,” explains Paradi Mirmirani, MD,a Vallejo, California, dermatologist and faculty member of the American Academy of Dermatology. “So your hair may actually feel thicker and healthiernow than it did in your twenties.” Even some early graying can work to your benefit. “Many women go through a gorgeous pregray stage where some pieces are coming in a little bit coarser and wavier,” says stylist Sally Hershberger, whose clients include Uma Thurman. “It’s easy to style and has a little extra volume.” Another plus: The aging process doesn’t really begin playing out on your face until your late thirties.
For those reasons—and also because the thirties is a time when many women come into their own, personally and professionally—“this is the age of the power cut,” says Tricomi. “This is when you have the confidence and the looks to make big changes. You can go short; you may go bold with color. You can be experimental.” With few wrinkles or complexion woes to deal with, you may also be able to carry off a strong blunt or geometric cut, says stylist Oscar Blandi, who coifs Naomi Watts.
With your lifestyle and physiology working in your favor, now is also the time to give up bad hair-care habits from your twenties. “Healthwise, you’re likely at the top of your game,” says Tricomi. “You’ve moved out of the partying ways of your twenties and are taking better care of your body. So start working on good habits, like weekly conditioning treatments. And get a cut that complements your body type and your features instead of the style your friend has.” If you’re petite, think about a sleeker look that won’t overwhelm yourfigure; if you have a wider frame,create balance with layers and volume. And pay attention to any texture shifts that may develop during the pregraying stage. Because hair becomes wirier as it grays, if you’ve always had fine strands, you may be able to switch to lighter styling products and lower heat settings on tools as your hair gains body and fullness. But if your mane was coarse to start with,you may need more emollient stylers.
Your biggest physiological challenge may come with pregnancy. “Your hair will become thick and lustrous while you’re pregnant and start temporarily shedding three months after birth or breast feeding,” says Callender. You may want to takeadvantage of your fuller hair with longer, layered cuts that balance out the body’s swell. “But don’t make the mistake ofchopping it all off after the baby comes,” says Tricomi. Experts say that makes thinning look worse. Instead, to camouflage the shedding, add layers and bring up the length a little. That will also distract from any sleep-deprivation-related puffiness in your face.