The 14 Top Hair Mistakes That Make You Look Older

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A bad hairstyle isn’t always so easy to identify—and, chances are, if you don’t have a total hacksaw job, you probably think you are doing everything right with your current look (hello, high school yearbook photo). But, according to Aaron Grenia, owner at IGK salons, there are certain mistakes you may be committing without even knowing it. Scarier still? These strand snafus may be making you look a lot older.

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Letting it Grow Out too Long

According to Grenia, there is one common style mistake that he sees women make time and time again: not getting a haircut often enough. “Even just a trim will keep hair in its best shape. Split ends climb up the hair, so, for long hair especially, I recommend a trim every seven weeks.” Celeb stylist and cofounder of R+Co, Garren, also recommends not getting in a rut—and that applies to hair and makeup. “A big no-no is if you are still dressing and wearing your hair and makeup the way you did 20 years ago. Sometimes, people just get so used to a look. You can date yourself if you’re wearing your hair the way it was and it’s now turning gray or thinning, or you haven’t adjusted the color to complement your skin. The skin tone also changes as we age.”


2 / 14

Sporting a Color That Washes You Out

Sure, color is a totally separate category that could go on for endless contents in the story of hairstyles, but the ultimate way you can add years to your look: sporting hair color that is way too blond.

“It can wash out a woman’s skin tone,” Grenia says. “Having a natural root base with subtle balayage highlights around the face and ends will bring out your eyes and skin.”

3 / 14

Out-of-Date Do

Even if you’ve kicked your hairspray obsession and mile-high bangs to the curb, chances are you may still be making a very common hair mistake that looks more tired than on trend. The biggest don’t, according to Grenia: a dated, over-layered haircut and bad, stripy highlights.

Celebrity hair colorist Chad Kenyon is also a fan of change. “If you’ve had the same hairstyle and hair color for three decades, it’s most likely time for a switch. Talk to your professional hair stylist about what you like about your current style and color.  Ask them for suggestions on how to modernize the cut, color and style for a younger look.”

4 / 14

Not Refreshing Your Bangs

What is the fastest thing you can do to update your hairstyle? Change your fringe. “It is an easy fix for updating your hairstyle,” Grenia says. “Or, simply switch up how you part your hair—it can change the feel of a cut.”

5 / 14

Trying to Recreate the Look You Got at the Salon—Minus the Proper Tools

This one is a little hard to get your head (or hair, literally) wrapped around. If you like the look you get at the salon, you should still like it when you get home and do the same thing, right? Jasmine Anna Galazka, leading stylist at the Warren Tricomi Flagship Salon in the Plaza Hotel, NYC and educator for Shu Uemura and Kerastase, says it’s not that simple—especially when it comes to operating the almighty hot tool. “The biggest mistake people make is when they try to recreate what their stylists have done in the salon at home without being taught the proper way, especially when it comes to using hot tools. Those perfect hair-sprayed-to-death ‘prom curls,’ as I like to call them, are a complete no-no. Not only are they circa ’92, but they are super unnatural. Instead, use a curling iron to create a bend to the hair, instead of an actual curl from roots to ends.”

6 / 14

Not Properly Drying Your Hair in the Morning

Galazka says doing a bad blow-dry can sometimes really backfire. “It can leave your ends looking frizzy or lead to unwanted volume if you have curly hair. Having the right tools—the proper brush, blow-dryer and product—and being patient will lead you to success.”

7 / 14

Faded Color

It’s not really new information that color can be really hard to keep up with. “Faded color might appear aged,” Galazka says. “Instead, opt for revitalizing your shade by going to your colorist for a gloss in-between visits. But we also walk a fine line between wanting a rooted color and then, not coloring your hair for three-months-plus.” Her tip: If your natural root color exceeds more then four inches, it’s aging and it’s time to color that mane. 

8 / 14

Ends That Are Fried

Keeping the ends of your hair fresh will always make you look younger and more polished, Galazka says. “A lot of times we do so much mechanical damage to our hair, we forget to treat it,” she notes, and suggests that, if you aren’t ready for a trim, revitalizing the midshaft to ends by going to the salon once a month and doing a deep-conditioning treatment. “Not only will this keep your strands looking shiny but younger-looking as well.” Likewise, Garren refers to what he calls “ragged” edges. “Hair that is too long, thin and raggedy can make you look old fashioned and will date you. Rethink your color and cut, and go to someone you admire to cut your hair.”

9 / 14

Over Processing

Another one that hits the moisture category, celeb colorist Jeremy Tardo says if your hair color is filled with harsh chemicals, the result can leave your hair feeling dehydrated—and he offers a do-it-at-home solution: “When the fabric of your hair is compromised, no hair color looks good. To keep hair shiny and healthy try Clairol Natural Instincts, which is ammonia-free demi-permanent hair color that doesn’t damage your cuticle and adds a beautiful glossy finish to the hair.”

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10 / 14

Bad Gray Coverage

Tardo stresses that if you choose to cover your grays, a permanent color is necessary. “I see a lot of ineffective attempts at gray coverage, which make the roots look too light or translucent. I like Clairol Nice’N Easy for these projects, as it gives 100-percent gray coverage. If coloring at home, once your color is applied, I suggest going back through your application to check for any potential areas that you can add extra product to. I always cross-check my sections when I’m working in the salon. If your gray is super-resistant, sometimes an extra five minutes of processing time can be helpful as well.” Similarly, Garren points to COVID as prompting a lot of women to go with their beautiful silver or gray hair. “I like a cool haircut with gray hair. Try something edgy, like full fringe that’s blunt on the bottom, or an asymmetrical bob with structure. Don’t go with a shaggy, layered, soft or fluffy cut with gray hair, that will age you.”

11 / 14

Touching Up in All the Wrong Places

In nature, uncolored hair is always deepest near the scalp and lightest on the edges “because the lengths of your hair have been exposed to the sunlight and the elements for much longer than the new growth by the root,” Tardo explains. “When hair has previously been colored, a retouch should just be applied to the root area. If a refresh is needed for faded ends, color can be added to ends for last five minutes of process time. When permanent color is added to ends for too long repeatedly, the look becomes inky and unnatural in appearance.”

12 / 14

Doing The Wave

Kenyon counts “waving the hair toward the face” as one of the biggest styling mistakes he sees. “It can make facial features appear hardened, aging the face. When using a curling iron around the face, waves should be rolled away from the face, which will soften facial features and ‘open things up.’ Always use a heat protectant when using heat including hot tools or even a blow dryer. I like Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Oil, which protects hair up to 450 degrees and is a weightless reparative styling oil for added shine, softness and color vibrancy.

13 / 14

Using the Wrong Shampoo for Your Hair Type

Sounds simple enough, and Kenyon says it is key. “Just-cleansed hair should feel light and not be limp or greasy. If your hair doesn’t look like it was washed on wash day, it will age you.”

14 / 14

Assuming You Should Go Short

“Don’t assume you have to go short as you get older,” Kenyon says. “Many women in their 50s, 60s and beyond have long hair and it looks beautiful. The trick is to make sure your hair is healthy—and your professional hair stylist can help you with professional salon treatments like the Olaplex Standalone Treatment to repair damaged hair making it look its best at any longer length.”

“You don’t have to cut all your hair off when you turn 60—60 is the new 40!” Garren says. “If you have long glorious hair, you can get away with it. It’s all about keeping your hair healthy and shiny. Shiny is the key factor.”

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