This post began with a simple question posed to a group of hairstylists here in the Bay Area. It unexpectedly ended in a story about how we perceive our over 50 selves and the truths we believe as we age.
I’ve always been intrigued by the relationship between hairdressers and their clients. I can’t articulate the reasons why, but I believe for many of us the relationship is akin to the connection between therapist and patient.
I had many questions. What is it that clients are sharing day in and day out with their stylists? What are hairstylists experiencing? More specifically to this post, what are the top 5 “requests” hairstylists receive consistently and specifically from their over 50 clientele? And, what do hairdressers think about those requests?
Hairstylists who did not even know one another responded in most part with the same 5 answers.
The hairstylists I spoke to also nearly unanimously told me that we over 50ers were mainly an easy and great demographic and customer. We know and are clear on what we want.
With that said, I was initially surprised at a couple of the answers. However, it all made sense upon further thought. Our hair cuts deep into our beauty psyche.
Beyond understanding what hairdressers would like to tell us but don’t, my hope is that their answers may be good food for thought and even perhaps an impetus to examine some of our underlying notions surrounding our own beauty and aging.
What Hairdressers Want You To Know
#1 Trimming Hair
It is evident to many hairstylists that many more than a few of us would like the long hair we had during our younger years. The whole thick shiny hair package.
As one hair stylist shared with me, “some women believe that maintaining length will make them look more youthful. They insist on letting their hair grow for many years without a trim.”
Some of these hair ends are left untouched up to 15 years or even more.
While our mind’s eye may see and think shiny, healthy hair, the opposite is true.
Without regular trimming, split ends unravel each hair strand all the way up through the hair shaft. While the length may remain, the hair size shrinks, and the bottom several inches of hair naturally thins and becomes wispy. The entire head of hair takes on an unhealthy appearance.
The advice you never hear? get a trim!
Benefits of Trimming Hair
Trimming will aid in making hair appear healthier and thicker. It will also prevent split ends from traveling up the hair shaft.
While there is nothing that replaces a trim, consider using a hair product that targets damaged hair and specifically split ends. Here are a few that I recommend.
Pureology strength cure line
kerastase nutritive hydrating split ends serum
kerastase resistance therapiste hair mask
#2 Hair Volume
My post on how to stop thinning hair has gone viral multiple times over the past 18 months. Its immense popularity is a clear indicator of how important and top of mind hair and combatting thin hair is for many of us-including me.
As one hair stylist shared with me, in a desire to counteract the appearance of thinning hair, “many clients insist on teasing their hair (i.e. back combing). They believe it creates a more voluminous sumptuous look”. Clients may think:
However, excessive teasing causes irreparable damage to the hair. The hair’s outer protective layer, the cuticle, lifts. Repeated teasing can weaken the hair shaft making it more prone to breakage particularly for aging hair that is already fragile.
The real result is an outdated 1980s look with unhealthy hair. While I love Cyndi Lauper, teased hair runs the risk of looking like this:
the advice you never hear? please don’t tease your hair. it’s not flattering.
Leaving the hair natural with a good cut can do wonders. Another option is to consider a good volumizing shampoo and/or alternative styling options. Here are a few suggestions.
oribe dry texturizing spray
An incredible product that adds hold and texture to the hair. Not too stiff or drying. Available in travel or full size.
bumble and bumble thickening shampoo
There are certainly many good thickening shampoos out on the market. While they leave the hair a bit heavier, they really do work. This is a one good one that is also kind to colored hair.
not your mother’s beach babe texturizing sea salt spray
Sea salt spray is a great way to “fake” thick hair. Many brands offer it. I like many of the Not Your Mother’s products. They are affordable and they work.
#3 Hair Protection
I can’t speak for other parts of the country, but here in the Bay Area, many hair services can run upwards of $400 or more (i.e. think time-intensive treatments such as balayage, highlights, extensions).
Several hair stylists have shared that it is baffling when clients outlay that much money and then shirk at paying an additional $40+ for a higher quality shampoo and conditioner. Not doing so results in color that doesn’t last, and hair that isn’t as healthy.
“It doesn’t matter to me whether she buys the product from me just that she gets something better than Costco brand”.
the advice you never hear? please protect your hair with good hair products!
There are multiple options out there. Here are a few.
Gentle color safe shampoo
Drunk elephant cocomino glossing shampoo and conditioner
These Cocomino shampoo and conditioner hair products from Drunk Elephant are underrated. Sulfate and silicone free with a mild almond scent, moderately priced for more a higher end brand, they are a worthwhile try to protect your locks.
kerastase bain chroma absolu respect shampoo
This is a solid line from Kerastase that treats colored hair gently and effectively.
moroccanoil color care shampoo
A new find and I’m impressed by the gentle results. Definitely worth a try if you are looking for something new and effective.
#4 Hairstyle Change
Several hairstylists shared that there is a subset of over 50 women who just have never changed and never wanted to change their hairstyle since their younger years.
We may feel much younger than our chronological age, and in our mind’s eye perceive ourselves as relatively unchanged. However, the face alters over time. In many instances, the hairstyle that worked many years ago, doesn’t work as well in current times.
the advice you never hear? Your hairstyle doesn’t suit your face any longer. update it.
If you want to see how you would look in different hairstyles without the risk of commitment, consider downloading a selfie editing app that allows you to change hairstyles on the fly. A highly rated one is YouCam Makeup available on iphone and Android.
#5 The Old Photo
We all have that “photo” from a point in time when we looked fabulous. For me, it’s circa 1993 pre children. My face is vibrant and my hairstyle, a Vidal Sassoon bob, is one of my favorites. 30 years later, if I am honest, my hair no longer has the same texture, thickness, or color. And, while I look somewhat representative to the days of yore, the fact is that my face also has changed.
Multiple hairdressers shared with me that many clients bring in an old photo from years prior requesting the same past life cut. The client’s underlying belief is that the old hairstyle will bring about a Benjamin Button type of experience and will shave years off of their look. Alas, it does not.
The advice you never hear? The years cannot be rewound. embrace a more fabulous you and choose a hairstyle that suits you today.
And then see #4 above.
Final Few Words
If we are honest, beauty at any age is as much or more about an attitude and perspective on the world than it is physical.
My blog was built on the core belief that any one of us, at any age can achieve better beauty. “Beauty does not end after an arbitrary birthday. The beauty goal is not to regret what we no longer have but rather to look forward to being our best and most confident self”.
Let’s get rid of the old photos and the beauty goals that no longer fit. And maybe with a little help from our hairstylists, we can forge and embrace a newer more improved over 50 fabulousness.
Thank you for reading!