Does Long Hair Make You Look Younger?

long hair makes you look youngerReader A has an interesting question about the perennial problem of looking too young…

I’ll be spending this summer in my Michigan hometown working as a student ADA. They’ve even promised to let me try some misdemeanors. My problem is that I will be working in a very small town where many of the people knew me as a child. Furthermore, despite my conservative and classy attire (thanks for your help on that!) people still guess I am a mature 20 year old, rather than the 26.5 year old I really am! I’ve decided that the problem might be my long hair, which falls approximately in the middle of my back. My boyfriend, like most guys, doesn’t want me to cut my hair into an “old lady hairstyle.” Can you recommend an appropriate place between sorority girl and dowdy matron? How long is too long?

Hair is a highly personal thing — it really depends on the woman, her stature, how she carries herself, and more.  Most will tell you that a length somewhere between your shoulders and the top of your bra strap in the back is acceptable. Some women look great with it longer than that; some don’t. (For this author, for example, hair that reaches the bottom of my bra strap makes me look as if I’m headed to Woodstock.)  We would also suggest you consider your makeup carefully for the summer — a bare face can look just as young as an overdone face, as readers have noted previously.  (Pictured:  Long Hair, originally uploaded to Flickr by madaise.)

If you really don’t want to cut any of your hair, we would advise you to learn how to put it up in a way that is professional yet flattering.  For example, we’ve written before of our love for the low ponytail tucked-into-itself, and we recently(ish) saw the blogger at I Am Style-ish describe how she did a big bun. Real Simple also recently described how to do a “quick” French twist and YouTube is filled with women talking about their hair, in depth.  Even just a big claw can help you pull your hair up in a way that’s flattering.

If you do end up deciding to cut your hair, please consider donating it — you have to cut at least 8″, but it can make a difference in someone’s life.

Readers, how long do you think is too long?  What are your favorite up-dos for the office?


  1. This is whole thing is kind of a moot point. Hair and face shape is so, so different from person to person, and without knowing what A’s hair texture and thickness is, it’s impossible to suggest that having shorter hair will make her look older.
    I’m 22, and I’m only just starting to not be mistaken for a 14 year old because having a baby has aged my face and thinned it out. I have long, wavy, layered hair because anything shorter than my shoulder blades poofs up and looks absolutely hideous with my face shape. I like it long.
    I say, wear your hair at a length you like. If people always think you’re young now, cutting it short isn’t going to magically transform their opinions. Have a mature attitude, have confidence… and maybe don’t refer to your age in half years.

  2. Re a suggestion about hair donation — keep in mind that most donated hair can’t be used. It has to meet specific conditions:

  3. I think, that only healthy long hair make you look younger.

    • Healthy hair looks better, no matter the woman’s age or length, of course. As a rule, hair with length exudes beauty and youth. After 40, long hair can take up to 10 years off one’s age, if properly cared for.

  4. I ran for a State Senate position in 2008. I normally wear my hair longer. Its absolutely straight and dark with no graying yet at 50. Its nothing great. But it won’t hold curl and it fits my lifestyle and personality, especially to be able to pull it off my face.

    Then, I put my name on the ballot. Women over 50 years old kept asking me, “What are you going to do with your hair?” Every campaign event I went to – this was the number one issue. They heard nothing I said, they couldn’t get past the hair. So after a few weeks, I went to the best stylist in town and said, “Do what needs to be done.” We talked at length and he cut it in “the only hairstyle” that portrays intelligence, professionalism, confidence, a public persona, etc. Just like Hillary’s. Just like a local successful office holder who amazes me with her lack of intelligence and ability to convince voters over and over that she is a super star.

    Immediately, women and men over 50 years old responded. It was actually very creepy. Overnight, I was transformed into a viable candidate because of a haircut. Is this really how voters and community leaders rank people? I was enraged, curious, hurt, and totally identity confused. I guess there were two different people inside of me? Which one did I want to be?

    On the other hand, the reaction from young people, under 30 was, “Why did you cut your hair?” It was like they could see that I was selling myself out. My family said, “It’s cute, if you like it keep it. It’s just not you.”

    It was a very strange psychological experiment for me. I had no idea the cultural messages that I was or wasn’t sending with my hair. And I am still struggling with trying to find a middle place where my culture respects my intelligence and abilities.

    I definitely observed the huge difference between the generations. The older generations have strong stereotypes and exclusionary criteria built on outdated information. I am excited that the boomers will start to become yesterday’s news soon. We so need the hope, light and change that is following them waiting for a chance to shine!

  5. Kitty, we have two women running for magistrate in my area. Each is about 50. One has mid-back hair and the other shoulder blade. Both heads of hair are stunning. Never listen to what short-haired women say about the luscious tresses of another in their age bracket. It’s fraudulent advice. BUT, for those who are comfortable blending into the crowd, short hair IS the way to go. We guys never tired of seeing beautiful flowing hair on a woman, and it’s sad when a woman goes corporate and “proper”.

  6. Thanks, RC! I very nearly slipped down the slippery slope to “corporate and proper” at that time period of my life. Depression and gut problems finally forced me to a halt. I had to rethink things and listen to my heart. It was a great learning opportunity and I have successfully avoided the whole scene for a couple of years now. Your supportive words were such a gift to me today! Maybe you should be writing a book?

    • You are too funny—-and kind! Thank you for the nice words. Glad my thoughts helped. God Bless, Rob

  7. My husband absolutely loves extreme, short hair. So did my first husband.

    I always wear my hair around shoulder length, give or take a couple of inches. They both married me anyway.

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