Women over 50 can rock a wide range of chic hairstyles, as icons like Halle Berry, Angela Bassett, and Helen Mirren prove time and time again. Whether you prefer long waves, easy updos, or a short cut, your 50s (and beyond) are a great time to have fun with your hair. Today, we're exploring the liberating option of chopping it all off. Whether your hair is wavy, coarse, curly, fine, or straight, there's a short hairstyle out there for you. "Short haircuts are low-maintenance and can be designed for any woman, regardless of her lifestyle, face shape, or hair texture and density," says pro hairstylist Sanda Petrut. "Chopping your hair can be liberating, and the right cut can complement the features you want to accentuate." Ahead, Petrut and beauty entrepreneur Savannah St. Jean tell all about the best short hairstyles for women over 50.
Meet the Expert
- Sanda Petrut is a professional hairstylist based at Chicago's Maxine Salon.
- Savannah St. Jean is a beauty expert and the owner of Savannah Rae Beauty in Miramar Beach, Florida.
Pixie with Long Bangs
A sleeker take on the pixie cut features long, side-swept bangs like EGOT-winning actress Viola Davis. This is especially great on those with finer hair types, as it draws attention to the hair density in the front.
One of the most classic short hairstyle options for women over 50, the pixie cut frames the face and can highlight your best features, as evidenced here on Holland Taylor. Except for the occasional trim, they're relatively low-maintenance—you can wash and go, or quickly style it with a pomade.
A spiked hairstyle like Angela Bassett's is a fun way to change up your look. Soften it up by skipping the spikes and letting it fall naturally, or turn up the volume with a teasing brush and some hairspray. With this cut, there's enough length to change your style day-to-day.
To style the look, St. Jean recommends a heavy, wax-based spray such as Kevin Murphy's Touchable Spray Wax ($37). "This acts as a styling paste would, except it’s in a spray form, so it's easier to control how much product you use," she says. "Simply spray it in and spike your hair with your fingers."
A textured pixie is an effortless style that's super hip. The look, seen here on Halle Berry, is achievable with a shorter or longer cut—just use a little pomade to separate pieces of hair and add texture.
Ellen DeGeneres's mussed-up, dirty blonde pixie gives off an effortlessly cool look and feel. Keep it sleek by going over it with a straightener, or finger-comb for a more textured style.
This edgy pixie cut worn by Tyra Banks has no age limit—anyone can pull it off. Choppy bangs give this look an element of modern cool, while complementary rocker accessories can complete the look.
Many people with naturally curly hair like Toni Braxton turn to pixie cuts to rid their hair of extra weight and to lessen drying time. Style your baby hairs to add some glam to the look.
Short, Subtle Layered Curls
Subtle layers and a curled style add dimension to this go-to short haircut for older women, as seen on actress Emma Thompson. St. Jean says that a light, wax-based texturizing spray "will leave you with movement but will give the piece-y look you are trying to achieve."
To use a texturizing spray, simply spray and tousle with your fingers to give hair the definition you want.
Vanessa Bell Calloway's pixie afro is a timeless style. Curl mousse or cream works best to style this coiled look. For makeup, you can either subtly accentuate your features or pair your cut with a bold eye to take the look up another notch.
Keeping layers longer can add volume to a pixie, which is ideal if you have fine hair like actress Nia Long. We're also digging the wispy bangs.
While she recently switched up her short hairstyle to a bob, Kris Jenner’s pixie cut will always be iconic. All eyes are on the voluminous, tousled texture here, which is easy to achieve and customize with the right products. "This style works on straight, wavy, fine, or thick hair," Petrut says.
A modern take on the classic pixie hairstyle, a brushed-back version as seen here on Jamie Lee Curtis gives a sophisticated feel. The slight volume in the front is cool and edgy, but not overly so. For added protection, spritz some hairspray to ensure it stays in place.
Janet Jackson's short pompadour hairstyle might look complicated, but it couldn't be easier to pull off. "This cut has versatility and is low-maintenance," Petrut tells us. "It’s ideal for straight hair, and it can be styled slicked back or blow-dried forward with a low part and sweeping bangs."
Tilda Swinton's undercut-pompadour combo ups the ante and gives the classic style a modern twist. Relatively low-maintenance and easy to style, this look gives off "I woke up like this" vibes. A root powder such as Kevin Murphy's Powder.Puff Volumizing Powder ($35) can work wonders on a look like this, according to St. Jean: "Simply tap the powder into your roots and tousle your hair to add texture and volume where you need it."
Short Cut with Soft Bangs
Soft bangs can freshen up even the dullest of haircuts, as they add lightness and dimension all at once. If you want to accentuate your eyes like Helen Mirren, opt for a cut that sweeps downward to draw instant attention.
J.Lo's piecey shorter hairstyle is such an effortless look that works beautifully for both day and night, on a variety of ages and face shapes. The layers fall into place, and a middle part keeps it polished.
Lisa Rinna's shag hairstyle is ideal for thick hair that has some natural wave. If highlights are your thing, they'll definitely add extra dimension with this style. You can also opt for balayage for a natural, sun-kissed look.
Both sophisticated and sleek, journalist Alina Cho's classic bob makes a statement no matter your age. Change up the feel by curling your ends in, or keep the ends facing downward for a softer look.
For straight, fine hair, the short bob hairstyle seen here on actress Cicely Tyson is a fabulous choice at any age. It's a length that naturally adds volume to straight hair, and it can be switched up on the daily: A middle part keeps it sleek, while a side part adds volume and takes the style from day to night.
Seen here on Ellen Barkin, "this is a great haircut for women with different textures (straight, wavy, or curly), and different densities (ranging from fine to thick hair)," Petrut tells us. "It offers lots of versatility—from conservative to messy—and it can also be flat-ironed to accentuate the piecey-ness and texture at the ends."
Layered Side-Part Bob
Layers upon layers give a chin-length bob bounce and volume—just look how amazing this short hairstyle looks on Vivica A. Fox. Add some highlights for dimension, or stick to one tone for a monochromatic look.
This old Hollywood bob hairstyle on Elaine Hendrix proves curls can look great at any length. To maintain hydration, keep a leave-in conditioner and water mixture on standby to refresh your curls throughout the week.
A straight bob is chic and timeless—just ask Maya Rudolph, who's rocked the look on numerous occasions. Start with a volumizing mousse on damp hair, then blow-dry straight with a round brush for both volume and straightness. "The trick with this style is to maintain the sleek, straight look," St. Jean notes. "To do this, you need a product to keep the humidity and frizz at bay." She recommends an anti-humidity spray such as Oribe’s Impermeable Anti-Humidity Spray ($42): "Simply style and set the finished look with this spray."
Voluminous Wavy Bob with Bangs
Bobs work on thick, wavy hair quite well. Alfre Woodard's chin-length bob hairstyle with long, face-framing waves is both elegant and mature, and the bangs and short layers create additional interest.
A deep side part on a bob never goes unnoticed. Add a slight bend to your bangs or front pieces for an element of surprise, as seen here on Monica Bellucci.
Once a trend, the long bob—also known as lob—is here to stay. Seen here on Sandra Bullock, it's a great option for women who want easy-to-maintain longer hair with flexible styling options. Wear it straight and sleek or volumized and retro.
Holly Hunter's shoulder-grazing lob is majorly chic. Keep your short hairstyle all one length for a sleeker look, or tuck one side behind the ear to add a playful element.
While we love a sleek lob, Lisa Kudrow's voluminous version is just as head-turning. To achieve it, let your hair air-dry slightly before round-brushing it straight with a blow-dryer.
Add a few beachy waves to your lob, and you'll instantly take your short hairstyle from soft and sophisticated to casual and fun. Use a smaller-barrel curling wand for tighter ringlets, and alternate the direction of the waves for a lived-in natural beachy look like Robin Wright’s.
Wavy Bob with Bangs
Unlike a beachy lob, this style on Thandiwe Newton features more pronounced waves made with bigger sections of hair. Finish it off with a shine spray for that red carpet-ready look.
Shoulder-Length Natural Curls
Embrace your natural texture in a sophisticated way like Oprah with this middle-parted, shoulder-length hairstyle. One of the best parts of this style is there’s no heat required–just go through your favorite wash-and-go routine, or try a braid-out or twist-out to enhance your curls.
Voluminous Shoulder-Length Waves
A shoulder-length cut can be made to look oh-so voluminous with a simple at-home blowout or easy curls. The best part about the cut, seen here on Diane Lane, is that you can change up the part for endless looks—a middle part gives the look of symmetry, while a side part will accentuate a square-shaped face.
Shaped Shoulder-Length Curls
Shonda Rhimes's shoulder-length curly hairstyle is beautifully cut and works well on all face shapes. To achieve the look, layer your styling products on wet curls and diffuse. Once your hair is dry, lift your curls from the root with a pick to add volume without the frizz.
Defined Shoulder-Length Waves
Defined waves on shoulder-length hair are timeless. If you don't have natural waves like Salma Hayek, set your hair with braids or a three-barrel curling iron to create this look.
Middle-Parted, Shoulder-Length Cut
Soft waves (seen here on Mariska Hargitay) offer a dimensional effect to this soft, shoulder-length cut, and a middle part frames the face. Use a medium-size curling iron to create subtle waves from the ears down, and for added interest, try getting lowlights.
Rounded Blowout Bob
Sharon Osbourne's short hairstyle is sleek, sophisticated, and easy to wear. Pair it with a fiery red color for a striking finish.
Gabrielle Union's face-framing loose curls give us an "I woke up like this" vibe. If you choose to use heat to enhance your texture, apply a protecting serum to safeguard your curls and smooth frayed cuticles.
Mid-Length Springy Curls
Jane Fonda's springy curls give this mid-length cut a youthful vibe. A quick spritz of shine spray will enhance the curls and add definition.
Old Hollywood Glamour
The timelessness of an Old-Hollywood glamour hairstyle, seen here on Julianna Margulies, is undeniable. Pair a deep side part with bangs curled inward and soft curls throughout for a chic, classic look.
Messy, Tousled Layers
Contrary to popular belief, a messier style like Susan Sarandon's can look beautifully put-together with the right styling and products. A defining cream can accentuate waves or curls, while a light spritz of hairspray can help tame flyaways.
You can never go wrong with a simple hairstyle with minimal layers, as exemplified by Michelle Pfeiffer. Style into a blowout with a slight wave and tons of movement for a look that’s simple, fresh, and polished.
Afro texture is known to be malleable and versatile. Take it to the next level, like actress Jenifer Lewis does here, by fluffing up each layer with a volume mist.
We're all for easy-to-achieve styles that don't require much, and this one on Tracee Ellis Ross is simplistic and protective. The actor has experimented with all sorts of styles on her natural curls, but cornrows offer a little change no matter the hair length.
Sandra Oh's low-maintenance look is equal parts messy and chic. "Shaggy haircuts can be achieved on straight, wavy, or curly hair, and also on various lengths from short to medium," Petrut says. "If hair is straight, roughly blow-dry the hair and then use a curling iron to create shaggy curls."
Shoulder-Length, High-Volume Waves
We dig the glamorous look big curls give, as exhibited by Cheryl Ladd. The trick here is to use a dry texturizing spray, such as the Moroccanoil Dry Texture Spray ($30). A product like this will help set the curls created with a large-barrel curling iron, and will also add volume to give you the fluffy look you’re trying to achieve.
Create volume at the ends by blow-drying with a round brush and going over with a large-barrel curling iron.
Bangs are not a one-size-fits-all affair. The split bang, which just means the bangs part in the middle, is a fun way to switch up the style. To achieve Bo Derek's look, simply part the bangs down the center and apply a lightweight mousse to keep them in place.
Short Bowl Cut
Mary J. Blige's chic bowl cut makes a statement. Apply a dime-sized amount of a smoothing serum to lay down flyaways.
Looking for a low-maintenance cut that'll give you a variety of styling options? Opt for Regina King's cropped cut—it's long enough to pull back for a special occasion and can be adjusted for endless styling.
Jada Pinkett Smith's bright blonde curls give this cropped cut a carefree vibe. A dollop of curl cream or gel will enhance the curls and lock in moisture.
Shoulder-Length Curly Bob
Michelle Obama's cut is low-maintenance and versatile. Consider pulling your curls into a low bun or loose ponytail to get the most out of your wash day.
The Mermaid Bob
A luscious mermaid hairstyle isn't just reserved for long hair—in fact, it works beautifully on shorter bobs, too. Taraji P. Henson's mermaid-esque locks have lots of volume and bounce through the ends, making them worthy of a nighttime event.
The Brushed-Back Bob
Nothing screams sleek more than a brushed-back bob, like this iteration on Sharon Stone. A pomade works great here—rub it between your hands to warm up the product and slick it backward (up and away from the face) into the hair.
Iman's sleek center part perfectly draws attention to her gorgeous face. Meanwhile, the blunt and asymmetric ends of her lob add interest.
Patti Labelle's side-parted bob has lots of layers. The resulting look appears voluminous and fully glam, plus we love the golden blonde color.
Diahann Carroll's bouncy bob offers volume in spades, thanks to short, face-framing layers and lots of curl throughout. To replicate the look, turn to a volumizing product like Color Wow’s Raise the Root Thicken and Lift Spray ($24).
Severe Bob with Volume
Lynn Whitfield's severe bob gets a dose of spunk thanks to all the added volume at the roots. To mimic the look, ask your stylist to cut blunt ends around the chin and tease to add volume at the roots.
Side-Parted, Tousled Lob
Kelly Lynch's side part adds interest to her blunt-end bob, which is tousled with a sweeping bang over one eye. This look is easy to replicate: Just air dry, add texture spray, and go.
This updated homage to the 1920s embodies pure glamour. We like how Naomi Campbell's take sees her short hairstyle a bit rounded, so it highlights her face shape. Cut your bangs to an eyebrow-grazing length for added allure.
Finola Hughes's rich brown strands are naturally straight, but a wavy style as seen here is a great way to add volume. The deep side part adds a touch of modern drama.
Bixie with Bangs
Halfway between a bob and a pixie, the trendy “bixie” cut looks great on any age and texture, and Ann Curry's layers add movement to her naturally sleek hair. The beauty of this look is that, once you've blown your hair out, there's little to do other than style it with your fingers.
Voluminous, Fluffy Curls
Phylicia Rashad knows that embracing curls with a short hairstyle can take things to new heights (quite literally) by adding easy volume. For this look, turn to a curl cream that provides deep moisture, like Oribe’s Styling Butter Curl Enhancing Crème ($46).
Side-Parted Beach Waves
Julia Roberts oozes eternal youth and energy with this voluminous side part and beachy waves. Use a wide-barrel curling iron to get the look, and try brushing through the curls with your fingers to make them look less contrived.
Loose, Shiny Waves
Michelle Yeoh's waves are natural and casual, but chic enough to effortlessly transition into an evening look. The shoulder-length cut helps with volume, and that admirable shine can be replicated with Verb's Ghost Weightless Hair Oil ($20).
Octavia Spencer's curved bob helps highlight her face. While the ends appear blunt, this short haircut does integrate some subtle layering, which keeps the look interesting.
Curly, Side-Parted Bob
Here, Giselle Fernandez’s hair has a 1950s feel with its bob length and curled style. The side part and balayage highlights keep an otherwise retro look feeling modern.
In this style, Gloria Reuben allows her natural curls to shine in a layered shag haircut. Subtle side bangs frame the face and create additional interest.
Jodie Foster's casual short bob hairstyle gets a modern edge with tousled ends and jaw-length layering that gives the cut a bit of a “bixie” feel. Embrace natural movement in your hair by spritzing a bit of texture spray.
Collarbone Lob with Texture
Vanessa Williams offers a decidedly cooler take on the lob with her tousled style. For added grit, apply Kristin Ess’s Dry Finish Working Texture Spray ($15) from roots to the mid-shaft of the hair.
Cate Blanchett's one-sided lob offers a fun approach to the trend. Here, her hair is air-dried with lots of texture, but the real impact comes via a simple trick: using a bobby pin or two to hold half of the hair back, so the look becomes asymmetric.
This look may be iconic and instantly recognizable, but you don't have to be Anna Wintour to rock a sharp, pointed bob. Just use a blowdryer with a precision nozzle and aim it at the roots for extra volume.
Ellen Barkin's graduated bob, which is longer in the front and shorter in the back, is sexy and chic. We love how she has some slight layering around her face, and keeps the volume at the roots and mid-shaft of the hair.
Shohreh Aghdashloo proves that blowouts work on all ages and hair lengths. Here, the style is shiny and fluffy. For a similar look, apply a smoothing oil like Prose’s Hair Oil ($48) to freshly blown-out locks.
Diane Keaton does a blowout well, too, but her blowout shuns a sleek finish in favor of a more tousled, side-swept look. Add texture spray and a side part to recreate the vibe.
Layered Lob with Full Bangs
Gayle King's layered lob is ultra-fun, thanks to full bangs that span the width of her forehead. Her highlights add extra dimension and keep the look fresh.
Bob with Locs
Whoopi Goldberg's signature locs curve inward, in a bob shape. Most importantly, Goldberg's hair is healthy (which is key for those who want to wear the style). Ensure consistent moisture with a product such as Locsanity’s Daily Moisturizing Refreshing Spray ($20).
Shoulder-Length Waves with Bottleneck Bangs
Bottleneck bangs are having a moment alongside other face-framing styles, and this style on Laura Dern shows how the look can enhance shoulder-length waves. Style them fluffy and voluminous so they seamlessly transition into the rest of your hair.
Ombré hair can work on any length, and Regina Hall’s sleek lob hairstyle is proof. The drama and maintenance level of this look is fully customizable with the help of an expert colorist.
Laverne Cox looks stunning in any hairstyle, and we love how effortlessly she pulls off this black-to-gray ombré bob with a majorly voluminous blowout. While the gray here is presumably either dye or a wig, we imagine it looking just as stunning with naturally silver strands.
Fluffy Layered Lob
Never underestimate the magic that happens when you mix layers and a good blowout, as proven here on Sheryl Lee Ralph. A rounded blow dry brush will help you to easily achieve the fluffy volume you want.
Emma Thompson looks radiant in this short hairstyle, which embraces her natural gray. Curled, side-swept bangs frame her face and create a soft, elegant look.
Is short hair better for fine, thin hair?
Shorter hairstyles, like pixies and bobs, can help the hair appear thicker. Also, with longer hairstyles, you run the risk of hair being weighed down.
What is the difference between a bob and a lob?
Generally speaking, a bob haircut is chin-length, while a lob can extend down to the collarbone.
Should thin, fine hair be layered?
Layers are a fun way to play up your hairstyle, but too many can make thin, fine hair appear thinner and more sparse. Talk to your hairstylist about ways to achieve movement without losing too much volume.
30 Chic Ways to Style Short Hair