BE A BANGS PERSON
If you've never had them, know that bangs work Botox-like wonders in disguising forehead wrinkles. "They also make your hair appear fuller, which helps deflect from thinning," says celebrity hairstylist Ric Pipino, who works with Elle Macpherson and Fergie. His advice? Go big or go home: "Thick, softly beveled bangs are the most girlish," he says. If that sounds too rock 'n' roll, try a long, sideswept fringe, which creates pretty movement and also erases years.
SHAKE UP YOUR CUT
We're shouting it from salon rooftops: The difference between a haircut that's aging and one that's age-defying comes down to layers. "Without them, hair doesn't move--and nothing makes you seem older than stiff hair," says hairstylist Juan Carlos Maciques of the Rita Hazan Salon in New York City, who works with Jennifer Lopez. "No matter what your length, you want delicate layers throughout and face-framing pieces. This creates lush, healthy-looking hair, which softens your entire appearance." (Blunt cuts, on the other hand, can catapult you a decade, à la Callista Gingrich.) And we're setting the record straight on length: You don't have to abandon long hair for a short, so-called sensible 'do when you hit 40. "Just get regular trims so your hair maintains that healthy look," Maciques says.
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EMBRACE YOUR TEXTURE
If you have kinky or African-American hair and wear it natural, "a cut that's shoulder-length or shorter is the most youthful--any longer, and your hair starts to balloon around your head, which piles on the years," says hairstylist Tippi Shorter, whose clients include Jennifer Hudson and Mary J. Blige. This hair type also needs a serious wallop of moisture to prevent it from getting dry and brittle (an instant ager). For this, use a curl-enhancing product, says Shorter, whose fave brand is Kinky-Curly. "It's an ethnic hair-care line with different curl enhancers, from a lightweight serum to a rich cream, so there's something for every type of curl."
YOUTH-IFY YOUR PONYTAIL
Slicked-back styles put every pore and fine line on full display. Instead, use your fingers to rake your hair back into a ponytail or bun, which creates soft ripples and a slightly fuzzy finish that's relaxed and sexy. "It's okay if it's a little messy--that's what makes it young," Pipino says.
GET YOUR SHINE ON
As every Disney heroine reminds us, glossy hair is a symbol of youth and vitality (anthropologists, incidentally, agree). An at-home glaze like John Frieda Clear Shine Luminous Glaze, $9.99, restores sheen with nourishing oils and works on all hair types, including ethnic. Apply it once a month to wet, freshly shampooed hair; wait five minutes, then rinse and follow with conditioner.
STAY TO ONE SIDE
Unless you're going for that Maria Callas, super-diva vibe, "a center part can make you look severe," Maciques says. His softening tip: Shift your part to the side and make it slightly zigzaggy, which creates an effortless look that (bonus!) hides grays and roots.
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