A New ‘Do for You

When to change hair style

You might think that an annual review of your hairstyle is overkill, and that updating it whenever you feel the need for a change will do just fine. But I’m standing firm on this one, and here’s why:

Hairstyle impacts personal style

You may have a closet full of Prada and Chanel, or vintage gorgeousness galore, or killer shoes from all eras … but if you’ve got an outdated or incongruous hairstyle perched on your noggin, much of that style savvy can be cancelled out. I’ve seen impeccably dressed women with clashing tresses and it impacts their overall perceived stylishness in a big way.

You can outgrow your “perfect” style

I’ve heard folks say that they’ve labored to find their ideal ‘do, and are loathe to tamper with it. And I get that. I do! But our tastes change, and my friends, our FACES change. If we don’t allow our hairstyles to follow suit, then we run the risk of looking disjointed. The “perfect” style that you nailed five years ago might not be so “perfect” now if your wardrobe, body, or face has shifted even slightly. And if you don’t reevaluate, you’ll never know if an even better style is possible. This applies if you’re 16, 36, 60, any age at all. We are all in flux at all times.

Stagnation is unbecoming

If you’re in college and have been sporting the same style since you were 16, you look like you haven’t matured. If you’re in your fifties and have been sporting the same style since you were 40, your cut may age you: When people see the same old coif, they’re likely to notice how much your face has aged in comparison to your unchanged hairstyle. Mix it up to make sure your hairdo matches the current version of you. Mix it up to show the world you’re a mysterious, ever-changing creature of beauty.

Review doesn’t mean change

I’m not saying that you need to drastically alter your entire hairstyle every twelve months. No way, no how! Subtle change can be just as effective at keeping your look fresh. Add some layers, get a few highlights or lowlights, find a new updo and wear it several times each week, get some barrettes or headbands into rotation, add bangs, grow out your bangs, try a new product, add or change color, straighten or curl your locks a few times a week. It doesn’t have to be an overhaul, just an injection of newness.

Never shun an opportunity to reexamine your style

Many of us evaluate our wardrobes and purge out the duds every SEASON. Forcing yourself to take a long, hard look at your hairstyle once a year is really not so much to ask. When you stop seeing yourself, you run the risk of stifling your own style. Look often and look honestly at your gorgeous self, and make sure you’re doing your utmost to highlight your best features.

It’s daunting, I know, but it’s worth it. Mark your calendars for a yearly hairstyle review, or run the risk of stylistic stagnation.

Still don’t believe me? Then take it from Angie!

Photo courtesy hannanik. The woman pictured is Emmanuel Jal, a Sudanese-born hip hop artist, in an impromptu photo shoot in a London hair salon.

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  • budget chic

    This is so true and also never be afraid to wear your hair longer as you age. There are several styles that your hair can be cut in and still look updated, fresh and keep your length at the same time.

    I hate when people tell women over 40 that they have to cut their hair because that is the (finger air quote) "age-appropriate" thing to do. Stacey London from "What Not to Wear" is known for that mess, yet that blatant hypocrite has hair all down her back. Needless to say I hate that show. LOL

    It's that one-size-fits-all women over forty kind of mentality. I'm sooo against anything that tries to pigeon-hole women past a certain age, into certain clothing, accessories, cosmetics and hairstyles. I'm determined to buck the system! *smiling hard*

  • Christina Lee

    true!!!! i just went a little different (daring for me) and have received tons of compliments- so that tells me I should stick with it!

  • Anna

    Sal, you are so right about the need to reevaluate your hairstyle. I recently chopped by below-shoulder locks, which I'd had since college, into a supershort pixie a la Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby. Not only have I gotten tons of compliments, but I also feel that this cut has completely revitalized my style AND my self-confidence. Now, even though I wear the exact same clothes I used to, every outfit I put together looks more interesting (and slightly mod) thanks to my hair. I find that I feel so much more confident in my look now that I have a sassy new hair style, and that translates into my wardrobe choices and my attitude.

  • Corrine/Frock And Roll

    True, true and true. A hairstyle can have such a huge transformation, not only for your personal appearance but also how you perceive yourself! I've been meaning to experiment with my locks for a while now, and this may just be the gentle nudge in the direction of a salon that I need 🙂

  • CompassRose

    OH this is so true! I've worked in the same place for twenty years, and there are women here who have not, I swear, changed their hairstyle (or their makeup) in that entire time. It stopped looking remotely good ten years ago, and now is just weird.

    (Incidentally, this seems to be a sin to which the "done" woman is particularly prone to falling prey. It's not women with casual choppy crops who keep them all their lives, it's women with carefully highlighted shoulder-length curls that are obviously subjected to extensive hot-rolling and curl-ironing every morning, and then frozen into place with half a can of Super Hold.)

    For a lot of women, hair seems to be the ultimate security blanket.

    budget chic, the main trouble with women over forty wearing longer hair is that most women over forty are dyeing their hair, and frankly, most of us don't have the cash of a Madonna or a Jennifer Aniston to subject our hair to regular roots maintenance and still have a below-the-shoulders length look shiny and healthy. The only women I personally know who are forty-five to fifty-plus and have genuinely beautiful, attractive long hair are also undyed; one's got pure silver hair (hers went white before she was thirty) and the other a striking mane of black and grey curls. It is, IMHO, just as aging to have a long mane of the default "grey-hiding" blondish highlighting, which is to boot dull and frizzy round the ends – older hair, for the most part, can't take the kind of abuse younger hair can, as it's not renewed as fast.

  • RML

    Sometimes I think my hairstyle hasn´t changed for ages, however when I look back at photos of myself I see subtle changes over the months and years, meaning that my style is always evolving. At the moment I am still trying to grow out disastrous side layers.

  • Vickles

    I love changing my hair. I have a tendency to get bored with it being the same all the time. It takes two years to grow long, so I spend two years growing it long, get fed up with it and get it cut short. Sometimes its the hairdressers that are unsure about it, they go all "are you sure you want me to cut it off?? Shall I just cut it half way in case you don't like it??".
    Its been a multitude of colours, now I have gone au natural, primarily because it makes a change from dying it!!
    I also like to go to a different hairdresser every time I get it cut, that way my new hairdo has a slightly different look every time! Some have been better than others, especially when I have turned up and said to them, "Do whatever you think will look nice". But it makes going to the hairdressers a little bit more exciting!

  • Rosie Unknown

    Changing can help so much! I find that getting your hair cut can make you feel way better than getting an awesome new dress, because unless you like wigs, you wear your hair with everything.

    That being said, you have to take care of your hair. It doesn't help to have an awesome cut, only to complain that it looks terrible cause you don't treat it properly.

  • Laura.

    oh, i totally agree with you! changing my hair gives me such a fresh outlook on everything–partly because people usually notice and give compliments!

  • Judy

    Ha, I cannot believe you posted on this again. It's me, the older gal whose comment last time was "Ack, a new style every year?!" But, I said I'd consider it and guess what? Just last week, I did it! Didn't need a change in cut, just a change of style. I love it, tho' I'm still getting used to styling it as well as my hair dresser did. But, I do think it took a few years off and does indeed suit my clothing style much better. Thanks, Sal—keep up the good work.

  • K.Line

    Haven't seen the video yet but I couldn't agree more with you, Sal. We do change – our face shapes, our attitudes, our colour schemes, our wardrobes, our eyewear. All of these things require hair reevaluation!

  • K.Line

    PS I recently change a style (not even dramatically) that I'd had for a scary long time and it has garnered soooooo much positive response it's crazy. And this hair is way less safe than my previous hair. And I"m older. So there.

  • Sarah R

    I'll be one of the ladies slower to follow on this one. I'm known for my hair. It's dark brown/black, wavy, and almost down to my waist. I FREAKING LOVE my hair. I get comments on it all the time. Strangers come up to me and touch it…no kidding! I do color it to hide the grays (I'm 34…not ready for gray!) and I do use scarves, clips, headbands, barrettes, to dress it up. I also wear it in a chignon or a bun depending on the weather. I've considering put in colored extensions to liven it up, but I won't bleach a strip of my hair and then dye it purple. It's too damaging, IMHO.

    I've always considered myself a "Jo." Remember, from Little Women, "whose only beauty was her hair." I am not thrilled with my body, but I love my hair.

  • Diana

    I totally agree! I try to change up my hairstyle at least a little bit twice a year. One thing that I find really helps is to get a kick-ass stylist who can help you determine whether or not a certain cut will be good for you, and then be willing to pay $$. I know some people scoff at the idea of spending a lot on a haircut, but when you consider that it's an accessory you wear everyday, the "price per wear" is next to nothing for what you get!

  • dapper kid

    I always try to have a change every single time I have my hair cut, even if it is only subtle. It is amazing how even the slightest change in hair can completely affect your look. It's one of those often overlooked accessories, which can quite literally change your face!

    I think the most important thing is to find a hair stylist you trust and work well with. They can really bring out your best, and if they listen to what you have to say, and show your character in your hair 🙂

  • Courtney

    I totally agree with you, Sal, and with Sarah R. I've always thought my hair was my best feature, and I take better care of it because of that. But I am stuck in a rut … same style more or less for the past 10 years, just because it works for me. Sal, can you recommend any websites that feature of-the-moment hairstyles and tips on what works for what face shapes, for those of us who need to do some homework?

  • Melissa

    Good point about outgrowing the perfect style. Everyone keeps telling me I should get a new 'do, but I haven't taken their advice…yet! Thanks for giving me something to think about.

  • lisa

    I've never been as high maintenance with my hair as I am with my wardrobe. I usually just try to make sure it's clean and healthy, and other than that I devote about 5 minutes in the morning to making sure it looks reasonably neat. But I do agree that hairstyle re-evaluation is important; whenever I'm due to go to my hairdresser I scour hair photos for inspiration and hope that I can find something new to try.

  • Make Do Style

    Gosh I'm a terror for changing my hair every 5 minutes – I wish I'd done an Anna Wintour and created a signature style – I need to stop restyling and fix a style.

    Always keep your hair as long as you can bear!

  • budget chic

    @ compassrose – If you are all gray (premature or otherwise)… yes your mane has to be professionally maintained even if your hair is short. All gray requires professional maintenance regardless of length. If you have some gray popping up at the roots it is not so labor extensive or costly to have long hair and I don't mean mid-point back or at the waist long hair. Long hair is at the shoulder and a few inches below the shoulder. If you wear hair extensions or a weave (partial or full), gray hair is a non-issue because the technique covers it up.

  • budget chic

    Also a good option for older woman whose hair can not take the heavy styling and chemicals anymore (because it can not regenerate itself as quickly) but still want to maintain some length to their hair is to look into a good strand-to-strand weave with high quality remi hair. Let the extension take the abuse why your own hair is tucked away. That way you get the shine, thickness and the ability to style without damaging your own hair.

  • KIRAFASHION

    Sal!
    This post is for me 😉
    I am always lazy about my hair…it´s bad…

    I need to make a new resolution about this…

  • elena-lu

    dude the shame i still havent done anything exciting! well ok i lie did you see that post where i had my hair kinda 40s-ish? yeah well so ive been curling it and kinda putting it up on the sides more (something i used to do a while back but hadnt lately) but as far as cut or color…. same

  • pretty face

    But what if hairdressers scare me???
    (I mean, any one of them could be some Sweeny Todd aspirer. Going by some past experiences, I think they secretly are)

  • rb

    I thought I had found the perfect style – long layers – but recently realized I'd had the same style for at least two years, so two weekends ago I impulsively had it chopped off. I figure if I miss it, I can always grow it back, but for now, I'm enjoying my new flippy bob.

  • Vildy

    finally decided to change my hairstyle and will talk to the stylist about color. Thanks, Sal.

  • LENORENEVERMORE

    totally agree…they don't call it the Crown of Glory for nothing… Fab NEW week! ~XO*

  • Sher

    I do subtle changes like bangs at different lengths, how the sides are cut. Taper in or blunt length. My hair used to be down to my waist and last Sept cut it to a bob. LOL!

  • enc

    You know, I re-evaluate my hairstyle weekly, and yet, whenever I try to cut/change it, I freak out and have a stress-filled time growing it back out to where it was before I cut it.

    I think eventually, I'll have to go shorter, but for now, I'm sticking with what I have.

  • Tina { Luphia Loves… }

    these are so true! that reminds me i need a haircut, it's getting quite long… 🙂

  • Pretty Little Pictures

    I love this post – its so true!! I had long straight hair for ever, and then this year i got sick of it, chopped it off and let it go back to its natural curl, which i love 🙂

  • myedit

    True. But sometimes change seems like a good idea and then we pay the price… Dyed my 'naturally dirty blonde' hair very dark, very often this winter for a change and many salon visits later I'm still not back at my 'original, ok… bleach enhanced' colour. Ahhhh…. the damage my hair is suffering!

  • WendyB

    I feel like my problem is that I was ALWAYS changing my hair in my misbegotten youth and now I can't find anything that feels fresh. *pouting* Any style I come up with, I can tell you what year I used to have it.

  • Allie

    I am a HUGE believer in changing up the hair. I'd love to do it more often, and my current job keeps me from going too hairstyle crazy. I'm game for almost any hairstyle!

    Except when it comes to waiting for it to grow. LOL.

    But yes, hairstyles change your shape, style, confidence, new hair can add new edge to a tired look, and can make or break a look!

  • bekster

    Yes, you are completely right. I didn't realize how much the hair is the base of the entire look until I chopped over 12 inches off a few months back. An amazing thing happened: I discovered that I actually have a waist. Apparently, my long hair had been hiding it. I have now been forced to create different outfits that better accentuate the positives of my silhouette. I didn't acknowledge before that I was hiding behind my hair, but now that I have found what was under there, I am more confident about my whole body.

  • Sal

    Judy: No KIDDING?!?! Wow, lady, that's just amazing. And I'm super glad the new style is making you feel gorgeous! That's exactly what changing up your hair should do.

  • Pamcasso

    I'm totally with you on this! I actually do like changing my hair all the time, but it is easily forgotten how much we can and do change, and need a tweak on the style.

    My biggest problem is explaining to my lovely friend who is also my hair guru that I don't like to 'do' my hair. As in, I want to wash it, maybe run a comb through it, and be on my merry way.

  • Rachael

    SO true! I can't imagine sporting the same hairstyle 12 months in a row, let alone 12 years. I stick to the length that suits me best but I'm always messing with the layers.

  • Kari

    Great, sound advice (as usual from you.)

    I especially appreciate #4. My hairstyle selection is pretty limited – it will NOT curl or wave, and if it gets past my shoulders, it starts looking unhealthy and heavy really fast even with a good haircut. I also don't have the amazing bone structure needed to pull off a pixie cut. But I still end up subtly changing my cut every few months – growing it out or going shorter, adding or softening an angle, creating a slightly more defined bang or more layers… there's a lot that a good stylist can do even with limited options for length and texture!

  • Annie

    I have been fighting off the urge to return to a lighter blonde… One thing I notice is that high fashion models have dirty blonde hair, not bleached.. So that's encouraging me to stick with my natural shade. Not that I'm high fashion, lol

  • Cal

    Totally focussing on the wrong thing in this post but it's the man on the right that's Emmanuel Jal! He's amazing – was a child soldier in Sudan and escaped. I'm no fan of rap but I heard him and was moved to tears.

  • Marie Lemondrop

    I am thankful for this post- we HAVE to stop putting so much self esteem points in our hair! As someone who has worked with a lot of kids- I see the effect that has on them. They think of themselves as "pretty" with long hair- and without…well it's unthinkable! I donated 10 inches of mine last month to Locks of Love at a school event just to prove the point. It's HAIR- for most of us it grows back and we can't focus all of our energy on it. Celebrate change with it- but don't let it control how we feel about ourselves. Yea for you for asking us to think about it. (thump) off the soap box now.

  • Audi

    I'm totally on board, Sal, but you probably knew that already. I sometimes go back and recycle styles I've sported before, but I never keep one around long enough for it to get stale.

  • Cedar

    Can anyone recommend any good websites for people looking to get a change? I've been growing out my hair for a very long time, and have reached a point where I am just sick of it, and need to do something different. I don't want to go back to my shaggy, chin-length style that I had for years, yet I'm not sure what else I can do. I like the woman who cuts my hair, and she does a good job, but we have very different styles, and I know if I asked for her advice, she would insist on something that's not really my deal.

  • issa

    man i've been wanting a new hairdo for awhile now.. i just don't know would look good.

  • Sonja

    I'm not changing my hair EVER! … just kidding. I agree. A change will do you good. 🙂

  • The Raisin Girl

    Well, since I haven't actually found a hairstyle that looks perfect on me yet, I might as well update every year. Most things I try fall flat after a week or even a couple of days.

  • autumnjedigirl

    So true! I've been changing my hairstyle every couple of years since I was in high school. I grow it out, I get bored or it drives me crazy, I chop it off (pixie or sleek angled cut), I hate that I can't pull it into a ponytail, I grow it out…the cycle repeats.

    And I love it! I'm at the growing-it-out stage right now.