From which haircut you choose to your hair colour, your crowning glory can have a big impact on the age you look. While we're all aware that a new hairstyle won't suddenly make us look 21 - nor would we want it to, to be honest - most would agree that they want hair that looks fresh and modern, and certainly not frumpy. With this in mind, we've asked top hairdressers and colourists to reveal the ageing mistakes they see most often – plus what we should be doing instead.
Here's their advice…
1. Go for soft colour
'The key to colour as we age is softness' says John Spanton, Technical Education Director at Trevor Sorbie. 'Solid root-to-tip colour is probably too harsh to wear after a certain point, so instead opt for balayage, which involves multi-tonal colours being painted freehand onto the hair by a colourist.' Karine Jackson, former London Hairdresser of the Year, recommends alternating salon visits with at-home colour, rather than just sticking to DIY jobs.
'Hair colour needs to look multi-tonal as you age; when you colour your hair at home, it builds up and looks dense, which is incredibly ageing.
'This is true of blonde and, at the other end of the spectrum, darker hair, which can look flat against the skin (think Dorian from Birds of a Feather!) A good colourist will be able to make sure this doesn't happen' she says.
2. Skip the blunt cut
'As we age, the plumpness in our face is reduced and the face shape appears more angular' says Hayley Gibson-Forbes, Director at S J Forbes. 'As we associate plumper faces with youthfulness, any style that accentuates these angles can have an ageing effect. 'A blunt bob, close to the jawline, with no layering, is very severe, which than makes the face appear older' she continues.
Instead, Hayley recommends opting for a softer haircut, such as the 'lob' – a longer bob that sits slightly beneath the jawline at the front. 'Opt for a layered version, rather than a blunt cut' says Hayley. 'The subtle layer will frame the face, softening it and making it appear fuller and more youthful.'
3. Avoid looking brassy
Yellow tones in the hair can make it look seriously brassy and old-fashioned. 'One of the most common things women get wrong is managing the tone of their hair,' says Lisa Shepherd, brand ambassador for PRO:VOKE haircare. 'It's something we discovered frequently when I was hairdresser on Channel 4's 10 Year Younger. A slight tonal change can instantly take years of someone. The toner they use in the salon will also condition the hair and add shine.' Alternatively, you may need the tone warmed up a little. 'I like to add warmth into mature women's hair as it adds some glow to the skin's complexion, which looks youthful and bright' says Neil Smith, Artistic Director at Barrie Stephen Hair.
James Taylor, Colour Director at Barrie Stephen, agrees: 'Skin becomes more opaque as we age, so a deeper tonal quality is needed to complement this' he says. 'Browns should be rich and chocolate-y, reds and coppers deep but not too bold; golds should be sophisticated and warm but not brassy and yellow.'
4. Long or short?
A lot of people are worried that they can no longer pull off long hair as they age – as we well know, it's extremely common for women to chop off their locks as soon as they reach their 30s! 'Very long hair – particularly if it's straight – can harden the face and draw attention to fine lines' says Hayley.
'If you want to keep your hair long, keep it very soft, adding subtle waves or volume to the hair, which subsequently creates the appearance of a fuller and younger face.' Jamie Stevens, Matrix Global Ambassador, suggests you keep longer hair around collarbone length. 'With subtle layering, this will help lift your neck and jawline to give a youthful appearance,' he says.
5. Focus on condition
Grey and ageing hair tends to be coarser, which is where excellent haircare comes into its own. One thing you need to think about is looking after your scalp – a body part we often overlook!
'A poor scalp environment can lead to poor growth cycles, and the structure of hair can become thinner' says Hayley. 'A good hairdresser will recommend tailored solutions, including prescriptive haircare products that lead to fuller, thicker hair. We also recommend anything that protects the hair against free radicals and UV rays, therefore countering the effects of ageing.' You may find that taking a supplement that improves the condition of your hair, as these contain vitamins and nutrients that promote healthy hair growth.
6. Don't be scared of grey
Often people think grey hair will inevitably make them look old, but, as Paul Falltrick, Matrix Global Design Team Member points out, this isn't necessarily the case.
'Grey shades can be stereotyped as ageing, but a clean-looking grey is stunning' he says. 'It's the salt-and-pepper shades that have more of an ageing effect, so visit your hairdresser to go for a more light-reflecting, flattering grey.' James agrees: 'For those who want to embrace their natural white hair, choose silver, metallic shades to enhance the grey rather than hide it.'