Your current hairstyle might be making you look older, but there is good news. Just a few tweaks and adjustments here and there can help you get your groove back. The most common mistakes that tend to add years usually have to do with the wrong hair color, the wrong length, or a hairstyle that’s too extreme for you. Here are some things to keep in mind if you want to avoid the age-hair trap:

If your hair is otherwise full and healthy, don’t opt for a really short look. Blunt, closely-cropped styles are fine for youngsters, but we of the over-30 set should take advantage of healthy hair if we are lucky enough to have it. If you like to keep your hair short, go for “shaggy short” styles that are softer and less trendy.

Avoid extreme hairstyles. Here’s a trick for finding a trendy, modern cut that is not too extreme: Search out photos of celebrities who are your age and who sport haircuts that you like. Print or cut out the pics and take them to the salon with you. People in the public eye usually put a lot of thought (and money) into their look because they make a living with it. Celebrities have access to some of the most talented hair professionals who know how limit the effect of aging hair styles. That gives you some insurance against copying an extreme style that may be popular on college campuses, but is poison for those of us in the more mature crowd.

Long can often go wrong. When filmmakers want to make a female character look old, they give her straight, long hair, parted down the middle. It’s a sure way of emphasizing wrinkles and lengthening the face. If you like long hair, keep it not far below your collarbone, and be sure to go with a bob or asymmetrical cut. That way, your hair will be working for you by drawing attention away from age-related features (aka, sagging skin and wrinkles).

Be cautious with very dark hues, especially if you are susceptible to thinning hair. Think of it like this: black strands against a light scalp do nothing but advertise thin hair. Adding insult to injury, extra-dark locks actually emphasizes wrinkles and make your face look shadowy and grim. Your hair stylist can add permanent hair color to make your hair a few shades lighter. Alternately, some highlights around your face will also erase the age effect of dark hair.

Keep your hair color and complexion at least two shades apart. When face and hair are exactly the same hue, you’ll tend to appear washed out. Even a tiny bit of contrast will lend a healthy glow to your appearance.

Be careful with gray hair because it seems to gravitate toward yellow, non-vibrant shades. Any shampoo that contains blue undertones will work to neutralize yellowish gray and add a vibrant, healthy glow to even the dullest gray hair. You can even go light blond if your hair is more than 50 percent gray. Remember, it’s often better to work with, rather than against, gray hair. Properly managed, natural gray tresses will not add a single year to your age.

Bangs are our friends (as long as they aren’t bluntly cut, and are the right length). Most everyone looks younger with middle-brow length bangs. Avoid blunt, chopped cuts, and instead opt for fuller bangs. When done correctly, bangs can be the quickest remedy for “old hair.”

Don’t be afraid to lighten or darken, to go shorter or longer, or to ditch that ultra-trendy style you saw in a magazine for the 20 somethings. Follow a few simple rules about hue and length, and stick to fashionable but non-extreme hair cuts, and you’ll never have to worry that your hair is adding years to your appearance. And with a little extra attention, who knows? Maybe you’ll even find the magic combination that actually subtracts a few years from your age!

To learn more, visit Keranique, on Amazon.

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