Why can’t anyone give me a decent hairstyle now I’m over 50
23:23 GMT, 15 August 2012
For almost a decade, I have been hitting my less-than-perfectly coiffed head against a brick wall in search of a good haircut to suit my age. But now, having reached the big 5-0, I am almost ready to throw in the towel.
I do not believe I am fussy or awkward; I do not think I have impossible hair, nor that I want something unachievable.
I simply sit between the Jessie J and the blue-rinse generations and cannot find the right haircut, let alone the right hairdresser to deliver it.
Hair-raising: Kay Page says she finds it impossible to get a good haircut now she's on her 50's
Talking to friends who have hit their 50s, it would seem I am not alone in my failure to find a stylist who can deliver a look that is contemporary but not too modern, and who understands that the older woman’s hair is very different in volume and texture than that of our younger counterparts.
As trichologist Philip Kingsley explains, a woman’s hair does change dramatically as she approaches her 50s.
‘It is an unfortunate fact that as we get older, everything about the body ages: skin, eyes, joints and, of course, hair. It is a combination of hormonal change, nutritional changes and the need for extra supplements,’ he says.
‘As we age, hair becomes a little finer and weaker, which leads to a flatness, loss of body and a greater tendency to split ends, causing a degree of frizziness.’
It all sounds very familiar — for example, my hair used to be straight and glossy, but it is now coarser and drier than it was a decade ago.
Over the past ten years, I have tried at least 20 different salons around where I live in Warwickshire — and after every visit I have left feeling disappointed.
One of the most obvious problems is that today’s salons seem to be the exclusive domain of the under-25s, staffed by ludicrously young stylists who seem to think anyone older than 25 is over the hill.
They don’t listen when I try to explain what I want from my hair. Whereas ten or 15 years ago I was experimental with my locks, now that is not the case.
As I’ve grown older, my clothes have got smarter and I want a haircut that is groomed and elegant to match. So why, oh why, can no one listen to what I’m saying and deliver exactly that
Recently, a young stylist told me my thick hair should either be one length or short. How infuriating! When I have it one length, I end up looking like Crystal Tipps — and if I opt for short, at nearly 6ft tall and pear-shaped, I will have the profile of a Christmas tree! How can these so-called experts not see this
No, I want layers. I have watched enough Gok Wan and 10 Years Younger to know they should suit my face, age and body; yet no hairdresser seems to be able to deliver a cut to make them work in my hair.
Instead, the stylists only seem to be able to use layering techniques that produce unsightly steps in the way my hair lies.
These oddities can only be disguised by curling it. Instead of following the fashion, I did once suggest it should be cut at a steeper angle so my hair would lie more evenly. The very idea almost sent the young hairdresser into cardiac arrest.
So on that occasion, like many before, I ended up settling for what passed for her best rather than what I actually wanted. What would I know after all I have only had my hair for 50 years.
So, I tootled home and resigned myself to once more relying on years of experience and an arsenal of appliances, not to mention a mountain of hair products to make the best of a bad job.
Hairdressers tell me they are required to achieve an NVQ Level 2 to cut.
However, does this give them enough experience to be let loose on the ageing public, tailoring cuts to different hair textures, thicknesses and distribution of hair growth
'As I’ve grown older, my clothes have got
smarter and I want a haircut that is groomed and elegant to match. So
why, oh why, can no one listen to what I’m saying and deliver exactly
I would argue not. Surely, the hairdressing community should wake up and tailor itself more to us 50-somethings (our generation is the one with the most disposable income, after all).
It is not acceptable to simply copy styles taken from a hair magazine full of 18-year-olds.
And it’s not just finding a good haircut that’s the problem. Finding a good colour is nigh on impossible, too.
Recently, I decided to get my hair highlighted. Expecting the old ‘stab them in the head and pull the hair through a cap’ method, I was surprised to get foils, which did not get to the root of the problem. Once dried, my roots were still darker than the rest of my hair.
Unable to face another hairdressing nightmare, I popped to Boots, bought myself a home colour kit and touched up the roots myself.
Despite all this, in typically British polite fashion, I always tip my stylists. But, no more! I think the time has come to introduce online hairdresser reviews — like TripAdvisor.
Meanwhile, I wish I could afford whoever has helped the likes of Carol Vorderman and Ruth Langsford to realise their post-50 potential — but suspect I shall be stuck for ever with hair that neither suits my age or personality.
How Nigella, 52, does it (and you can too)
Jo Hansford, whose 50-plus clients include Nigella Lawson, 52, and the Duchess of Cornwall, 65, says there’s no reason over-50s hair cannot look gorgeous. Here, she explains how she helps her clients look younger.
Fabulous over fifty: Nigella Lawson's hair always looks great
Hormonal changes in our 50s mean hair naturally thins, but the right haircut can restore body in an instant. Most women will suit a blunt, one-length bob, as this is the best for a low-maintenance, wash-and-go look.
If your hair is wavy, ask your hairdresser to graduate it. That means cutting in layers from the bottom, which lets the waves bounce up.
A short pixie crop works well on older women blessed with an egg-shaped head and a heart-shaped face. Long hair can look sexy on the older woman as long as it’s in good condition.
If your hair is thinning, you should always go for a solid colour to make it look thicker — highlights can make it look like strands of spaghetti.
After your 50th birthday, hair, like skin, can become dehydrated. As a result, the texture can look dull and wiry. Condition is key for young-looking hair so use a conditioning mask once a week. Alternatively, comb a light moisturising oil through damp hair then leave it to dry and the oil will smooth your hair and hold it in place.
Skin often loses its glow with age, but a good hair dye can restore vitality to a tired face. Opt for a shade two or three shades lighter than your natural colour. Never go darker. Lowlights are the best technique for hiding grey hairs, as the tortoiseshell-effect makes regrowth far less noticeable. A vegetable-based colour which gradually washes out is more gentle than an abrasive chemical dye.
Above all, your hair should frame your face and lift it up as your muscles drop. Instead of going into the salon bare-faced, wear your best everyday make-up so that your hairdresser can make the most of your features.