beauty

The 11 hair habits that could be making you look older than you are.

Image: iStock.

We’re all familiar with the transformative powers of hair. A simple cut, colour or style change can make you look more sophisticated, more fun, more summery, more mysterious — you name it.

Your hair can even give you the impression of being an entirely different age. And yes, while a certain style can certainly make you look younger, it can go the other way, too.

1. Going the wrong shade of blonde

Lightening up seems like the first step towards youthful-looking hair, but Philips Haircare ambassador, educator and salon owner Lizzie Liros stresses the importance of choosing the right blonde.

“A lot of ladies want to go lighter because it softens their skin up a lot, but they don’t understand that sometimes the lightness can actually affect their skin tone as well — it can bring out more wrinkles than normal,” she explains.

“Women look a lot softer when they’re more brunette, they get a lot more shine and silkiness back into the hair. Blonde hair can bring a lot of brittleness and dullness if it’s not looked after.”

Reese Witherspoon is the master of lustrous, non-brassy blonde. (Getty)

2. Highlighting from above

But... highlights? They're youthful! we hear you say. You're right, but again, choose wisely. "A yellow tone can age someone by 10 years, and orange tones are very harsh on your skin. You need to keep it toned, really subtle, and really 'sun kissed'," Liros says.

The way they're positioned also makes a difference. "If [clients] want to make themselves look young and fresher they should always have their highlights coming from underneath, so it softens and there's framing, not coming from the top of the hair," she adds.

"Unfortunately, when they're coming from the top of the hair it's really harsh and they get a really harsh regrowth." (Post continues after gallery.)

3. A haircut that doesn't complement your face

JOICO guest artist Kerrie DiMattia says a haircut that doesn't take your natural face shape into consideration can age you up. "For example, long hair and a middle part on someone who has a narrow oval face will make them look more drawn and severe," she explains.

Mary Alamane, owner and director of Royals Hair in Sydney, adds that your bone structure should also come into play.

Finding a stylist who can a) determine your face shape and b) advise you on what cut will best complement it is the key to overcoming this. DiMattia also recommends you consider a fringe, as it could lessen the appearance of ageing. "Whether it’s a soft or heavy style, a fringe will cover up and detract from the forehead where lines tend to appear," she says.

4. Ignoring your hair's texture

"Getting a haircut that doesn’t suit the texture of your hair will also contribute to a more aged appearance," DiMattia says.

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"Choosing a cut that works with the texture should result in a soft effect against the face, instead of a frizzy and furry outcome. Find an experienced hairdresser who understands your natural texture and what will make it most manageable."

Got curls like Sarah Jessica Parker? Take them into consideration. (Image via iStock.)

 5. Not getting your part right

"Most women don't realise that parting their hair on the wrong side can really have a huge effect on making them look older," Alamane says. If in doubt, ask your hairdresser.

6. Styling your hair towards your face

Putting some waves in your hair with your ol' faithful GHD? Apparently, the direction you work in can make a huge difference.

"Curling away from the face is looks a lot softer, it brings out their face [and] it opens up the jawline; whereas styling that's more 'into' the face closes their face up and makes them look stern," Liros says. Who knew?

If you're a fan of adding curls with heat styling, Liros says it's essential to use a heat protectant to avoid "ripping and stripping" your hair and making it look lifeless.

Kim Cattrall has it nailed. (Getty)

7. Not incorporating movement into your hair

Regardless of the haircut or style you have your heart set on, experts say your stylist should ensure it has "movement".

"Try softening the interior of your haircuts with shape and personalised layering cut to suit your bone structure. Blunt fringes should be grown a little longer and pushed back at the cheekbone to lift and brighten your face," suggests Kathleen Lindsay, owner and artistic director of Plush Hairdressing in Wagga Wagga.

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Cuts with "strong lines and heavy base length", like blunt bobs and long heavy layers, should also be avoided. "These shapes can often create shadows that dull your face and cover bone structure," Lindsay explains.

Liros adds that if you're wearing your hair up, go for a looser style instead of scraping it right back, as this can be a little severe — especially on older women.

8. Colour that clashes with your skin tone

Ideally, your hair colour should complement your skin tone.

"It’s just like wearing a coloured shirt that doesn’t suit you: it will make you look washed out and tired. Over colouring is a particularly common mistake that can result in a cheap and forced appearance," she explains.

Keep in mind that your skin tone isn't set in stone. "As we get older our face and body changes, so the colours and cuts that used to suit us are no longer do, so you need to be up for a change," Alamine says.

If you want to look more youthful, put the words 'natural and healthy' on your hair wish list. "Aim for a lived-in look with sun kissed colour that is soft and suited to your skin tone. This will have the most flattering effect, unlike hair that is bright and one shade all over," DiMattia recommends. (Post continues after gallery.)

9. Not keeping your hair healthy

This one seems obvious, but healthy-looking hair can make you look younger, regardless of whether you dye it or embrace your natural colour. "Make sure you are moisturising your hair properly to avoid a dry, frizzy and lifeless version of yourself," Lindsay says. A moisturising shampoo like Sebastian Professional Hydre Shampoo ($34) is a great place to start.

10. Dull, matte colour

"Avoid overly dark matte overtones with your hair colour. These colour reflections can appear dated, lifeless and reflect unfavorably on your skin tone," Lindsay says. Instead, she says it's better to find colours that have shine and are suitable for your hair — your colourist should be able to advise you.

Say it with us now: "SHINE". (Getty)

11. Seeing the wrong hairdresser

Despite all your good intentions and bright ideas, the way your hair makes you look comes down to the in-salon consultation and service you receive — and Lizzie Liros says not all hairdressers are getting it right.

"You need to find a fantastic hairdresser that understands your lifestyle, and will be very honest with what you would like to achieve with your hair," she says.

"I won't conduct a hairstyle if I don't feel like it's going to suit a client's age group or their lifestyle. It's really important they choose the right stylist to understand their needs and be honest with them."

Did any of this come as a surprise to you?

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