Hair

Forever young: How to get younger-looking hair

Elle Canada
Hair

Forever young: How to get younger-looking hair

You hear a lot about your skin developing fine lines and wrinkles when it comes to aging, but not so much about what happens with your hair as you age. But it, too, goes through changes as you get older. “Greying is one of the major changes and it’s all related to melanin production in both your skin and hair winding down,” says Jeni Thomas, Pantene Senior Scientist. And decreased melanin production translates to duller, less vibrant, coarser hair.

“Each actual hair fibre changes, too,” adds Thomas. “In your late 30s to early 40s each strand of hair gets thinner in diameter.” Why? “There’s less protein in it, so it’s less strong.” And if you’ve always been able to grow your hair down to your waist, you may find your mane may not reach that length as you get older. “Your hair’s growing state changes, from about five to 10 years to three to five years and this determines how long you can grow your hair,” explains Thomas.

Anti-aging hair strategies

Because of the biological changes your hair is going through as you age, “the approach you’ve been using is not the best approach going forward,” says Thomas. Here, some expert advice on how to keep your tresses looking their best.

Feed your hair well

“For healthy hair, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting enough iron, B12, folic acid and omega 3s,” says Joy McCarthy, certified holistic nutritionist at Toronto’s 889 Yonge. “Omega 3s are great for shine and overall hair health, and salmon is a great source.” Protein in general, so fish such as salmon, eggs, chicken, are all fantastic for hair growth (not to mention your skin) given that your hair is composed of protein, notes McCarthy.

“Make sure you’re eating your leafy greens, too, such as kale, spinach and arugula, too, as they’re a source of vitamins A, C and K.” She recommends going organic when it comes to leafy greens as the pesticides sprayed on the non-organic varieties may impact your hormonal balance. Also helpful for maintaining hormonal balance? Eating good fats in the form of nuts including almonds, walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

And while you’re at the grocery store, stock up on whole grains as well. They can help prevent thinning, damaged hair and decrease hair loss. Think brown rice, quinoa and kamut (an ancient type of wheat). Plus, you’ll want to pick up some lemons, too. “Drinking lemon water helps stimulate your digestive juices for good gut health,” says McCarthy. And a healthy digestive system will help ensure you’re breaking down your food well and absorbing all the vitamins and minerals you need for a healthy head of hair.

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Colour and styling strategies

You can expect to notice grey hair starting around your mid-30s. “Caucasian women tend to go grey earliest, followed by Asian women and then African American women,” says Thomas. And if you’re not keen on using an overall colour on your hair, you have a few options, says Marilisa Sears, Artistic Director at Mark Anthony salons. “If you’re happy with your grey, use a gloss finish to add shine—it’ll make your hair thicker as it’s an extra coating on your hair,” she says. “Or ask for a combination of lowlights and highlights to blend with your greying hair—this swells the hair cuticle and will give the appearance of a thicker mane.”

Also, you may love the colour you’ve been using on your hair for ages, but you may need to choose a slightly different shade as you get older. Why? “As you’re losing melanin in your hair, you’re losing melanin in your skin as well. It’s minute, but your skin will be slightly paler and the colour you’ve been using since your 20s won’t work the same as you age,” explains Sears. Plus, be careful with darker shades of hair colour. Not only will you notice roots more quickly, but the fine lines and wrinkles on your face gives your skin a darker appearance and a dark hair colour will accentuate these lines even more, she says.

If your hair seems to be more coarse since you’ve reached a certain age, reach for anti-frizz products. “Even if you’ve had fine hair your whole life, you may find your hair is much coarser and you can benefit from using a lightweight silicone product to help keep the wiry hairs under control,” says Sears.

Your aging hair mostly troubled with thinning? “The longer your hair is, the flatter it will sit on your head so consider a chin-length bob that is slightly layered,” recommends Sears. Also, Thomas recommends switching to lighter weight products than you’ve been using. Since your hair is more floppy than it has been, “your hair may not be able to stand up to the products you’ve been using,” she says. “A product such as Pantene Pro-V Colour Hair Solutions Colour Preserve Volume Shampoo and Conditioner will offer you the colour technology needed to preserve your colour but also help with thinning as it’s a lightweight product that helps remove build-up.”

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Styling dos and don’ts

• Do your homework when it comes to the sulphates in hair products and experiment with different products to see what type of sulphate ingredient works best on your hair texture. “Certain sulphates strip the hair and give it a gnarly finish that is more common with grey hair,” says Sears.

• Don’t style your hair to the grey. “Grey hair can be just as modern as any other colour hair. Style your hair to the texture and focus on maintaining shine,” says Sears. Do get regular trims. “Your hair is more susceptible to damage, so getting regular trims will prevent split ends from propagating upwards, which will cause bigger issues,” says Thomas.

• Do find the right balance of protein in a hair product for you. “There’s less protein in your hair as you age, and while using products containing protein is good for your hair, it can also build up and make strands break,” says Sears.

• Don’t abuse your hair with your blow dryer and flat iron. “As you age, take extra good care of the hair you have. Embrace its natural texture to keep it healthy. Try air drying your hair occasionally, or if you must blow dry, only damp dry it before styling,” says Thomas.

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Forever young: How to get younger-looking hair