During lockdown, legions of women were forced to break the taboo against sporting long hair after 40 — and many never looked back.
‘I grew it long during Covid,’ she has revealed. ‘I quite like the fact that it was sort of against the rules for women of my age to have long hair — or, if you do, you’re supposed to have it all neatly up in a bun.’
Instead, Mirren wears hers unapologetically straight down to her bosom, or cascading in Veronica Lake-waves.
I, too, have gone longer, as have many 40-plus women I know. Collectively, we are joining Demi Moore, Sarah Jessica Parker, Julianne Moore, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jennifer Lopez, Reese Witherspoon and Naomi Campbell in refusing to give length the chop. And considering how fabulous they look, it makes the ‘Is it still flattering?’ issue redundant.
Julianne Moore – sporting her gorgeously long hair – pictured at the Cannes film festival this week
What’s going on? For a start, money is tight and long hair simply requires less snipping than shorter, sharper styles. Besides, as Dame Helen observes, when society tells us not to do something, that makes rebellion all the sweeter.
Still, however mutinous we are, few of us want to look straggly, scruffy, or witchy. Maintenance is key: both in enabling hair to grow in the first place and keeping it in good nick once you’re there.
Here’s my three-point plan for the midlife Rapunzel . . .
Hair needs protein, iron, omega-3 oils, collagen and vitamin B to flourish. It also requires vitamin D, which is why it looks and feels more abundant in the summer.
I have seen the impact of a dearth of these essentials and it wasn’t pretty — strands tumbleweeding about my apartment until my diet was rectified.
I now take Solgar Gentle Iron (£16.14 for 180 capsules, amazon.co.uk), Solgar Vitamin B-Complex (£12.99 for 100 capsules, amazon.co.uk) and consume Linwoods Milled Flaxseed with Bio Cultures & Vitamin D (£4.32, amazon.co.uk), which delivers protein, omega-3 and lunatic amounts of vitamin D.
Even marginal deficits can fox your follicles, meaning your GP’s definition of a deficiency and a trichologist’s will be different. If in doubt, see a Philip Kingsley specialist for a virtual consultation, followed by a blood test (from £150, philipkingsley.co.uk).
The only reason I’ve been able to venture beyond the shoulder is that I’ve discovered a genius who ensures my style grows out lustrous rather than lank. Michael Van Clarke’s signature, sculptural Diamond Dry Cut is a godsend for long hair. His solution involves intelligent layering cut into dry hair (so he can see how it lies). The effect is as if your style goes from two dimensions to three. Michael himself is a pricey £395. However, everyone in his salon has been trained in his technique, meaning his method can be had for £80 (vanclarke.com).
Demi Moore, who remains in hair-to-derriere mode at 60, boasts a Brazilian hairdresser, Ivan Ferreira, who also tends Uma Thurman and creative consultant Amanda Harlech.
He has said: ‘In Brazil, women are famous for having very long hair. They keep it looking healthy by having regular micro trims and using a special technique that invisibly removes split ends only, so you never get this tired-looking long hair.’ Ivan performs this feat at his West London studio (ivanferreirahair.com).
Or ask your hairdresser about ‘dusting’ your ends — getting rid of the tips without removing any length.
Otherwise, seek out women whose long tresses you admire and ask them who is responsible. I guarantee they’ll be delighted.
Canny Demi Moore keeps colouring her hair to a minimum, to save it from damage. Instead, Ferreira deploys a super-shiny, semi-permanent gloss.
He has noted that his client is constantly conditioning. He recommends Oribe’s Gold Lust Transformative Masque (from £19, spacenk.com), and Philip Kingsley Elasticizer Deep-Conditioning Treatment (from £20, philipkingsley.co.uk).
As hair dries, apply the lightweight JVN Leave-In Conditioning Mist (£20, jvnhair.co.uk). All three restore hair without sacrificing body because the goal is luxuriant not quashed locks.
RACE YOU TO IT!
Katherine Daniels Pure Pigment Foundation & Concealer Brush (£25, katherinedanielscosmetics.com) is the best base brush I have ever had the pleasure of wielding. Sales of this word-ofmouth phenomenon have been off-thescale since it launched six weeks ago for its creation of professionalstyle, beautifully naturallooking coverage.
MY ICON OF THE WEEK
The 40-year-old’s essential is MAC’s Lip Pencil in Spice (£18.50, maccosmetics.co.uk), plus Charlotte Tilbury’s Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk (£20, charlottetilbury.com)
The 40-year-old’s essential is MAC’s Lip Pencil in Spice (£18.50, maccosmetics.co.uk), plus Charlotte Tilbury’s Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk (£20, charlottetilbury.com). She is fabulously experimental on the red carpet, these Bafta cat’s eyes were created with Lancome 24-hour Drama Liquid Pencil Eyeliner (£24, lancome.co.uk).
I’m not a great mask fan, finding most a lot of fuss for very little benefit. But, boy, is this two-phase, overnight plushness restorer the exception. Medik8 H.E.O. Mask (£57 for 100ml, Medik8.com) is blissfully simple: no faffing, merely apply the gel from the first tube, let it dry, then add a layer of tube two’s white cream. Leave on while you sleep. Wash off next morning, then let the compliments roll in. It was launched in December as a moisture hit for extremely dry skin, but acts as a fabulous boost on one and all. I use it when, by rights, I should look terrible and sleep-deprived, to be instead peachily-a-glow. The downside is I am now addicted.