What is it about the top of a woman’s head that can send her into a tailspin?
Almost every woman I know feels bad about her locks: They’re too frizzy or too straight — according to her, that is — too thin or too untamed. It’s a fact of female life that a bad hair day can tempt us to cancel appointments or torment us to the point where we’re snapping at our house pets.
And I needn’t look far to find a prime example.
Up until a few years ago, I often fantasized about “going all Charlize Theron” on my scalp — that is, shaving it down to stubble and starting over. (At right is Theron’s streamlined look in the new Mad Maxmovie; see what I’m sayin’?!) But then one morning I did the unthinkable: I threw out my blow dryer — a weapon of mass distraction if ever there was one — and learned to embrace my hair for what it is: unruly, unpredictable, but undoubtedly all mine.
These days my Hair Club for Women heeds three strict rules:
- Less shampoo
- More moisturizer
- No blow dryer
This simple routine has resulted in hair that’s healthier and easier to work with. And when I think of all the time I wasted whipping my hair into shape with my “blow fryer,” it makes me underscore my message: Women, let your hair be what it was meant to be! This doesn’t mean you should stop pursuing the right cut, length and shape to fit your own personal lifestyle and look. And a dollop of mousse or gel to keep everything in place never hurts either.
Below, my three favorite new hair trends. Women of any age can experiment with these to look cool and current this summer:
The chin-length bob. The summer months are the best time to lay down “beauty tools” such as blow dryers and curling/flat irons and let your hair run free. A great cut to help you do just that is a chin-length bob like the one shown off to such glam effect by Helen Mirren at left. Slightly layered, especially in front, this style works well with all kinds of hair: straight or wavy, thick or fine. Just cleanse, moisturize well, bend down and add a bit of gel, then flip your head back and use a few clips to fix your hair in place while it air-dries. If it’s warm enough out — and I’m betting it will be — you can even leave the house with your bob still damp and let it air-dry on the way.
The shoulder-length lob. Like its shorter cousin, this fashionably sexy version shows off all varieties of hair to their best advantage. (The shoulder-length lob is likewise at its best when allowed to air-dry.) Just when I thought Michelle Pfeiffer (right) would have a tough time appearing any more beautiful than she already does, her recently lobbed hair has added fullness and fun to her overall look.
The boho braids. Braids have been absolutely everywhere the last few months, and they’re likely to remain a hot hair trend as we inch toward summer. Though traditionally associated with youth (Pippi Longstocking, I’m looking at you), braids done right can make for an interesting — and free! — hair accessory for grown women, especially in warmer weather.
Tired of boring buns and predictable ponytails? Want to add pizzazz without getting a whole new cut? When I ran the New York City Marathon a few years ago (left), I created a “braided headband” that kept my hair off my face but let me look stylish at the finish line.
There are lots of ways to wear braids, but the classic look for women over 45 is probably with side and back braids. My favorite “must leave house now!” trick is this: Cleanse hair and moisturize well, then towel-dry and add a bit of gel. Next, slick your hair back to form a back braid. It will dry as you’re en route and stay in place all day. If you need a little more control, spritz some hairspray on your hands and smooth them over your hair.
Just as cool is a more relaxed — some might say messy — braid, which you can wear either up or down. In the short video below, I’ll show you how to perform a quick and easy “braid updo.” Think of it as Gone Girl in 60 Seconds.
Check out this “Trend to Try” to get in on one of the hottest hair trends this spring: Braids!
This article first appeared on AARP.ORG