healthy hair

Does a woman of a certain age have to cut her hair short? We blow the lid off this dated taboo.

Feeling good is a state of mind. But sometimes, the dos and don'ts dictated by beauty and fashion trends can be confusing — especially as we get (ever so slightly) older.

It used to be that once a woman turned 40, fashion and beauty laws automatically kicked in. No more glittery eyeshadow, thigh-baring mini skirts — and, of course, no more long hair. These rules no longer apply. (Well, the glitter eyeshadow one does.) Wearing your hair long indefinitely is not only a possibility, it's acceptable and often recommended by hair stylists.

But, just like an outfit, the hairstyle you choose must flatter you. If you've never looked good in long hair, chances are you never will. If you decide long hair is the right look for you, then it's all about your hair's health. Luis Pacheco, owner of the Toronto-based salon Hair on the Avenue (hairontheavenue.ca) explains that a woman's hair is at its peak of thickness and strength in her 20s. But, over time, damage from age and environmental factors becomes more visible, resulting in thinner and more fragile strands — the reason some women choose to chop their locks.

"Just like creams, there are anti-aging shampoos that have amino acids and proteins that can replace those your hair loses with age," Pacheco says. "There are even hair colours that have anti-aging properties as well. These products will give hair a more healthy look and feel."

Choosing a style that's sleek and classic is also important, rather than going with a style that's too trendy. (Or, you can try toning a trend down. Adore the "undone" look? Think about channelling Kristin Davis rather than Mary-Kate Olsen, for example.) And Pacheco also recommends not going too long. "Anything far below shoulder length looks too young," he advises. "A longer type bob with a few layers is perfect."

Always remember: age is no longer a reason to limit your choices. If you've got great hair, let your sexy flag fly. And if you've got challenges, seek help and the right products to amend some of the age-related damages. "It's almost like when you reach a certain age, you're told to lose your sex appeal," Pacheco says. "That's not true."

PRODUCTS TO TRY

1. Kerastase Age Premium Bain Substantif Rejuvenating Shampoo ($39) and Masque, ($55, at salons; kerastase.com)

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2. Sally Hershberger Hyper Hydration Super Keratin Spray ($12.99, at Shoppers Drug Mart)

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3. Moroccan oil Luminous Hairspray ($23.80, at salons; moroccanoil.com)

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