Your Hairlike your taste for music and your level of comfort with social media, can reveal your age. Hair changes with age, just like the rest of your body. “Hair follicles get smaller, sebum production decreases, and some people shed pigment cells and turn gray,” says Francesca Fusco, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
As hormones change, the Hair loses more and regrows more slowly, which makes it thinner, says David Kingsley, PhD, president of the World Trichology Society. Additionally, hormones trigger a reduction in sebum production which can leave hair drier. At the same time, the pigment cells in the hair bulb shrink over time, Fusco says, so the hair turns gray.
But even if your hair changes with age, you can update it. We asked the experts to share their best anti-aging hair care tips and tricks to keep your locks healthy and youthful to represent your individual style.
Consult your doctor
“Treat any thinning early,” says Fusco. “We have treatments like minoxidil and Propecia that work to regrow hair,” she says. “But it is better to rule out other causes like anemia, iron deficiencyan autoimmune disease or the side effects of medication.”
Get the right cut
“As your hair thins, it’s not a bad idea to cut your hair a little shorter, but it’s a myth that you have to cut your hair short once you reach a certain age,” says Nunzio Saviano, owner of the Nunzio Saviano salon in New York. “You can have beautiful hair below your shoulders as long as it’s cut in longer layers that move together and give the illusion of fullness.” He explains that having too many layers only accentuates the thinned texture, but the longer layers retain their shape and look full.
Dive into your diet
“Protein and iron are the two most important things to have in your diet for healthy hair,” says Fusco. “If your diet is restricted, it can affect hair loss.” She advises asking your doctor for a blood test and medical history to check for iron deficiency, Vitamin DOr other minerals. Once that is ruled out, Fusco likes the Nutrafol supplement because it contains zinc and other antioxidants which promote hair growth. “There is good research and my patients are happy with the results,” she says.
When in doubt, stay hydrated
Saviano tells her clients to avoid drying mousses and gels because they can dull hair and take away shine. His tip: “I like to use a mousse designed for curly hair because it tends to be hydrating and less drying on the hair,” he says. Fusco recommends rich conditioning treatments to hydrate aging locks. She likes macadamia nut oil masks once a week.
Hair texture and density
It helps to know the texture and density of your hair before treating it.
Texture is a measure of the diameter of your hair. The larger each follicle, the “coarser” its texture. Small diameter hair is said to have a “fine” texture. A medium texture is somewhere in between.
You can get a feel for the texture by holding a single hair between your thumb and forefinger. You will barely be able to feel the hair with a fine texture, but a coarser texture will feel like a piece of yarn.
“Thick hair” does not refer to the texture of the hair, but rather to its density. Density is expressed in terms of thick and thin. Hair is denser or “thick” when its growth pattern is closer together and “thin” when the pattern is farther apart. All things being equal, those with thick hair will have more hair on their heads than those with thin hair.
How can you tell which one you have? Look at your head in the mirror. If you have thick hair, you won’t be able to see your scalp. If you have thinner hair, your scalp will be more visible, especially where you part it.
But just because you have fine hair doesn’t necessarily mean you have fine hair. Texture and density can be completely independent of each other.
Brush with greatness
There’s an old wives’ tale that says you should brush your teeth 100 times a day. It’s not necessary, says Saviano. But gentle brushing can promote good health some blood flows to the scalp, which is good for the hair. In fact, some research shows that the scalp massage can help increase hair thickness. He suggests using a Mason Pearson soft boar bristle brush, as the natural bristles are gentle on delicate locks and will distribute the hair’s natural conditioning oils.
Check your foam label
“Look for a pyrithione zinc shampoo – it’s usually in dandruff formulas,” says Fusco. She says the ingredient is hydrating and soothing whether you have dandruff or not, and can help anyone who feels tight or itchy due to reduced oil production on the scalp.
Heat styling can be especially damaging to hair thinning fibers. Stress can cause breakage, and because hair produces less oil, you have less natural protection against heat. Fusco cautions against using too many hot tools and recommends minimizing any time you expose hair to flat irons or blow dryers.
Stay away from the spray
Jet Rhys, owner of Jet Rhys Salon in Solana Beach, Calif., tells clients not to use too much hairspray. The drying alcohols contained in these hairdressing devices can make the hair dry and brittle.
Build the body
“There’s a wonderful product called Toppik that uses plant fibers to camouflage areas of thinning hair,” says Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University. She says it’s very helpful in creating the look of thick hair.
Shiny on gray
grey hair naturally has a dull, threadlike texture that reflects less light, says Rhys.
“Semi-permanent or permanent color can improve texture and add body, but you don’t have to completely cover your gray,” she says. “You can just add a few ribbons to add shine.” She also says the color has the benefit of boosting volume, so it also helps thinning hair feel fuller. “A few highlights around the temple can make a big difference in creating a look of volume and shine,” says Saviano.
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