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Thanks, Ian, for Your Seal of Approval for Older Women and Long Hair

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As the owner of long (well, longish) hair, the words of the Queen's hairdresser, Ian Carmichael, are music to my ears. As one of last month's admittedly more trivial stories, you may have missed it (even if you weren't on holiday somewhere). So let me enlighten you: the Mayfair-based hairdresser who has been responsible for the Queen's hair for the past 15 years, declared that it was a "big mistake for women in their mid-40s and beyond" to have their hair cut short.

"At one time, women in their mid-40s and 50s would rush to cut their hair off. It was like 'I'm a wife, a mother, a certain age and I'm cutting it all off'," he said.

"But actually, as long as their hair is healthy and in good condition, many women look much better with soft, long hair," he declared.

He cited the examples of Jane Seymour and Lorraine Chase as remaining sexy and alluring (I paraphrase) because they had kept their long hair.

Thank you, Ian, for putting the seal of approval on longer hair for older women. At, we recently created a series of videos to help grown up women choose the right hair-style, and we didn't even consider the idea that long hair was unsuitable for older women. So why do so many women believe that when they hit a certain age, they need to have their hairdresser take the scissors to their longer locks?

Mr Carmichael implies that older women believe short hair makes them look younger. But I think it is the opposite. I believe older women think short hair is more 'appropriate' and grown-up, and that they need to leave long hair behind, as it is only for younger women. I believe they are concerned that long hair on an older woman is muttonish, and maybe a bit TOWIE.

Luxuriant long-hair, of course, has always sent out subliminal (and not so subliminal) messages about fertility, sexuality and youth. It is why certain religions require women to cover up their hair.

But the reality is that, in the 21st Century, if a long hair style suits you and your hair is in good condition, there is no reason to reject long hair, any more than there is to reject make-up or fashionable clothing. Great hair is just one more weapon in the arsenal of staying fabulous into your 50s, 60s and beyond.

All that said, there are rules for wearing long hair as an older woman. Excessively long hair - down to the waist, say - is generally weird, frankly, and definitely not flattering to an older woman, who could easily look like a bag lady or a character from a Coen Brothers movie. And poker-straight long hair is also a risky look for an older woman, because a curtain of dead-straight hair somehow exacerbates the downward trajectory of an ageing face. As Ian Carmichael put it: "Women are finally moving away from straight, sleek hair and embracing movement and texture, and it is much better."

That doesn't mean, of course, that short hair can't be fabulous, too. If you have the cheekbones, the jawline and the body-shape for an elfin or sharp geometric cut, go for it. But don't wear your hair short only because you think you do not have an option....

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