Cutting edge: The 'lob' hairstyle can make you look younger and chicer
What do gorgeous celebs Jennifer Aniston (50), Elle Macpherson (55), Julianne Moore (58), Sandra Bullock (54), Susan Sarandon (72) and Michelle Pfeiffer (61) all have in common? They are all women over the age of 45 who are debunking the beauty myth that we can't sport longer hair as we mature.
My personal take when it comes to beauty "rules" is this: do what makes you feel good but don't ever be afraid to experiment with your style. As a model I changed up my look countless times - from fringes to bobs, from black to blonde hair - so trust me when I say I've had some serious hair disasters over the years! But the magic in changing our hair is that if it's a disaster, we just grow it out or dye it over, but if it's a good hair change-up, it can totally transform us - and knock years off our faces in the process.
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If you need proof, just take a look at how stunning Julia Roberts is after chopping inches off her usually long style and adding warmer, graduated layers and warmer highlights. The 51-year-old looks a decade younger than her years, with nary an injectable in sight! Her shoulder-length 'Alob' (asymmetrical 'lob' - longer at the front, slightly shorter at the back), softened with her signature waves, is unbelievably flattering and a great look for anyone with thinning hair looking to increase volume but keep the appearance of length.
I can personally vouch for the lob (longer bob), after taking the plunge recently. I found myself in a bit of a beauty rut - sporting the same long, straight, dark hairstyle - and longing for a refresh and a more modern, manageable style. So slowly but surely over the last few months my brilliant hairdresser Dean Monks (thehivesalon.ie) has chopped five inches off my length and gradually added in lighter, warmer balayage colour. I feel fresher, lighter and absolutely love it.
So what is it about the lob that's so appealing, especially to those of us over 40? Stylist at No.5 Natural Organic Hair, Liz Howard says the lob's versatility "lends itself to both square and long face shapes". For long faces, she recommends some layers "to soften the overall appearance".
The allure of the lob is that it can be styled differently from day to day depending on your mood and style, while also keeping the illusion of length without any of the face drag that can happen with super-long hair.
I still feel I have length in my hair but, actually, my features aren't being dragged down, and the layers give much more fullness and bounce and are much softer-looking around my face. And after 40, I'll take any tricks I can find to knock a few years off the ol' visage!
If you want to keep your hair long, super short, pink, grey, purple - whatever you like - as long as you love it and feel great in it, I say go for it because at the end of the day, "confidence is the best hairstyle". However, if you're looking for a hair refresh and want to change things up a bit beauty wise, why not give it a bash? Don't keep the same hairstyle out of fear of change. Be brave, do lots of research and trust your hairdresser.
For Julia Roberts' boho waves, the trick is to use a texturising spray first. Liz Howard recommends Kemon Salty Mist Spray (€14, from salons nationwide). Only curl the mid-lengths, not the ends of the hair, she adds, and use your fingers to loosen it up.
3 of the best products for lobs and bobs
This styling spray is a volume factory. It's so brilliant that Jennifer Aniston (the woman with surely the most famous 'do in the world) bought shares in the company! If your hair is flat and lifeless and you want youthful, full hair, this weightless spray gives all the body and bounce you need - minus that yucky "crunchy" feeling. Living Proof Full Dry Volume Blast, €23, from Marks & Spencer, Space NK and The Loop.
Hair colour alters as we age - and so does texture.
I think that's why so many women opt for chopping their locks off completely. Our hair becomes drier, coarser and more unruly - particularly if you have grey. A deep nourishing mask or leave-in conditioner will hydrate and keep frizz at bay. This intensive treatment masque with shea butter, argan oil and sea kelp injects serious hydration into tired, parched hair. I pop it on for 20 minutes once a week. Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter Deep Treatment Mask, €17.95, from pharmacies nationwide.
If you're not a dab hand at the ol' hairstyling, this little gadget is a hair lifesaver - and a major timesaver too. It curls, straightens and waves your hair but the rotating barrel and inbuilt brush do all the hard work, so you don't have to know how to do all those fancy pro hair techniques. I love this gadget! Instyler Max, €99, from Boots, Argos, electrical stores and instyler.ie