Have you ever wondered why people cut their hair off when they get older? Is it because it’s easier to care for or are there other reasons?
As one who used to keep short hair, it is easier to deal with. So, that could be a possibility.
However, your hair changes as you get older. Keep reading to find out what those changes are and what you can do about them.
How your hair grows
To know all the changes taking place as you age, you need to know what makes your hair grow in the first place.
In the outer layer of your skin, you have tunnel-shaped structures called follicles. At the bottom of the follicle is where the hair grows.
Protein cells make up the root of the hair and nearby blood vessels nourish the root. Hair grows as more protein cells are made and nearby oil glands keep your hair and skin nourished.
3 Growth Cycles
Anagen phase- This is the growth phase, lasting about 3 to 7 years, where the hair starts growing.
Catagen phase- This is the transitional phase, lasting 2 to 4 months, where growth slows down and the follicle shrinks.
Telogen phase- This is the resting phase, lasting 3 to 4 months, where the old hair falls out and new hair grows from the same follicle.
Hair usually grows around a half inch every month, but factors such as health, age, and hair type can affect growth.
The shape of the follicle determines how curly or straight your hair is and it plays a part in the color of your hair. Melanin is what your hair gets its pigment from and there are 2 types: eumelanin & pheomelanin.
Your genes determine the type of melanin you have and how much.
An abundance of eumelanin = black hair
Moderate eumelanin = brown hair
Very little eumelanin = blonde hair
Pheomelanin = red hair
Why does hair get thinner?
As you get older, the growth phase of hair gets shorter. It’s also possible for some follicles to stop producing hair at all, which will lead to thinner hair.
The thickness of the hair that still grows becomes smaller in diameter and oil glands slow production as well.
Throughout life, you will continue to lose 50 to 100 strands of hair a day, even when hair growth slows or stops.
Hormone levels change as you get older and can play a role in hair loss. Chronic stress or a traumatic life-changing event can cause you to lose your hair.
Why does hair turn gray?
As you have already learned, melanin gives your hair its color.
As you get older, your cells produce less and less melanin, resulting in gray hair. If there’s no melanin at all, hair turns white.
Other factors that can affect your hair
There are environmental factors that can impact the growth, texture, and density of your hair. I would bet you can guess some of these!
The sun or UV light is, of course, the first. If you have light, fine, thin, flat, or tightly coiled hair, it’s more vulnerable to sun damage.
However, all hair types can get damaged by the sun. It acts like bleach by reacting with the melanin and removing the color in an irreversible chemical reaction. This will also damage your hair’s cuticle and protein.
Along with the sun, weathering can also occur with humidity and the wind.
As I have already mentioned, chronic stress can have a negative impact on your hair. With a significant amount of stress, it may push many of your hair follicles into their resting phase, causing hair to fall out when you wash or brush it. With severe stress, your body’s immune system will actually attack the hair follicle, causing hair loss.
Chemicals in hair products and treatments can cause hair thinning, loss, and damage. The chemicals to look out for include parabens, sulfates, phthalates, propylene glycol, formaldehyde, and methylene glycol.
For a list of toxic chemicals to look out for in your products, go here.
Pool chemicals can also be harsh on your hair.
1. Shampooing too often will strip your hair of its natural oils.
2. Not using conditioner puts your hair at risk of falling out, frizzing, tangling, and damage from friction.
3. Brushing wet hair causes breakage, split ends, and damage because that’s when your hair is weakest.
4. Rubbing it with a towel can cause breakage and it to fall out.
5. Using high heat changes the keratin in your hair, leading to weaker hair strands.
6. Brushing too much can cause scalp irritation and your hair to break and fall out.
7. Tight hairstyles are alright every once in a while, but every day will damage the hair follicles. This includes hair extensions and weaves.
8. Using products with long-lasting hold can clog your hair follicle and cause hair loss and breakage.
How to keep your hair youthful and healthy
As you now know, as you get older, your hair may become frizzy, coarse, and thinner. However, there are ways to protect your hair from damage.
1. Shampoo less often- If you shampoo too frequently, you are stripping it of its natural oils. Every other day is plenty. If you have oily hair, try using a dry shampoo. When you shampoo and condition your hair, look for biotin in the product. Biotin helps with the production of keratin which will help hair growth.
Use a clarifying shampoo once a week to clear any buildup from styling products. Follow with a conditioner that will nourish your hair.
2. Use a hair mask- Using a hair mask at least once a week will help keep your hair from drying out and easily breaking and prone to damage.
3. Care for your scalp- With massage and scalp treatments to increase circulation and boost your scalp health. If your scalp is healthy, your hair will be as well!
4. For gray hair, use purple shampoo- Doing this will keep your grays from yellowing and looking dull.
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There’s also a Nutrafol for that man in your life!
6. Get a quality hair brush- A brush with nylon bristles will gently detangle your hair and a brush with natural boar bristles will evenly distribute the natural oils throughout your hair.
7. Don’t use heat- Whenever possible, let your hair air dry. If you absolutely have to use heat styling tools, use the low heat option to keep from over-drying and damaging your hair.
You can also use a heat protectant like Kenra Thermal Styling Spray, if heating tools must be used.
8. Avoid hairsprays and strong hold products- Hairsprays and products that promise a strong hold contain alcohol that will dry out your hair. Instead, try using aloe vera gel for frizz and flyaways.
9. Don’t brush wet hair- Let it air dry a bit first, then use a wide comb for detangling.
10. Avoid over-coloring, perming, bleaching, or chemical straightening- It would be ideal to avoid these altogether, but if you can’t, wait as long as possible in between treatments.
If you’re like me, and can’t go without coloring your hair, use brands with ingredients that aren’t as harsh.
Using oil treatments to replenish your hair will help to restore its health.
11. Use a microfiber towel- Don’t rub your hair, just wrap it. The microfiber will soak up the water.
12. Don’t use hot water- Use lukewarm or room temperature. Hot water dries your hair and skin out.
13. Protect your hair and scalp from the sun- If possible, stay out of the sun between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm, if you must be in the sun, then you can use a mist sunscreen like Coola Organic Hair and Scalp Sunscreen.
Wear a wide-brimmed hat that has an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) number to add a barrier between you and the sun. The FDA regulates hats with a UPF number and also regularly tests them.
Umbrellas and scarves will also provide physical barriers from the sun.
14. Get trimmed regularly- Getting your hair trimmed every 6 to 8 weeks will help with hair growth and keep the ends of your hair from becoming frizzy.
15. See a dermatologist- If thinning hair, or any other problems, becomes worrisome, then book an appointment with a dermatologist to make sure there is no underlying health condition.
Many environmental factors, lifestyle, and grooming habits can have a big impact on your hair health as you get older. However, there are many ways for you to combat the signs of aging hair.
Start incorporating the tips provided above to keep your locks youthful and healthy.