Despite the fact that Baby Boomers outnumber their younger counterparts, we live in a youth-crazed society. It’s a ‘chicken and egg’ situation as to whether the health and fitness craze is fueling this anti-aging trend, or the trend is fueling the craze. You might not have considered aging in relation to your hair but it actually applies on two levels: how the condition of your hair itself reveals aging and how you can style and care for your hair to make yourself look younger. This post will address hair care itself and how to hedge your bets against aging hair.
While 30 is not even considered ‘middle age’, that’s about when estrogen starts to drop, causing hair to become dull and dry. You can experience lackluster looking hair, brittleness, fly-away frizz, thinning strands, and, gasp, the beginning of grey.
What’s an aging guy or gal to do? Here are a few hair care tips.
1) Super-moisturizing with intense treatments of oils and conditioners. Leave pre-shampoo oils on overnight, or leave conditioners on for extra time in the shower to allow infusing your follicles and lovely locks with the treatments. Then, also important, reduce breakage by combing out in the shower with a large tooth comb, even while the conditioner is still on (then rise after). Or detangle mindfully once out of the shower.
2) Hair driers, flat irons and curling rods are major causes of dry hair conditions. As you age, you may find it helpful to minimize their usage by changing your style- maybe by going shorter or staying with naturally dried longer hair. You can also use pre-dry protein sprays that coat your hair with a layer of silicone, which acts as a protective shield. You can select tools like ceramic irons or brushes that keep heat down while still getting the job done. Nowadays there are even ‘ionic hair driers’ that produce negative ions which saturate the airflow to reduce the size of water droplets, thus allowing more moisture to infuse into your hair. Who knew?
3) Use less shampoo - or reduce frequency of shampooing. Some shampoos can strip the lipids (fats which prevent breakage and bolster shine) or color from hair, again causing a dull, diluted look which makes you look older and tired out. So a first step is, when choosing your hair care products, look for those with Vitamin B, fatty acids or nourishing oils to add moisture. While lathering up is fun and makes us feel like we’re really getting our hair clean, in reality, most washing is to clear out oils at the root level. So at least for some washings, just apply shampoo- either gentle or color-protecting types to your scalp, and let the run-off suds remove dust from your hair itself. Rinse well with cool water so no residue build-up is left to dull your locks.
4) Avoid discoloration or damage to coloring in your hair. There are several issues to deal with here. First off, minimize fading or discoloration from chlorine or hard minerals in your water source by attaching a filter on your shower head. This applies to both, natural or color-aided hair. Of course, chlorine in pools that is left on too long or encountered too frequently can also cause hair to take on a straw-like texture with an eerie green tint, so watch out for this. Rinse thoroughly after any exposure to chlorine. When selecting product, whether hair dye, shampoos and conditioners, hair sprays or specialized treatments, avoid those laden with alcohol which tends to both strip color and dry out hair. It’s new to me, but apparently you can now spray on SPF hair treatments for sun protection and extra sheen. This provides an extra layer of protection to keep your hair color even and rich and the texture luxurious.
5) Finally for now, minimize hair thinning or loss in any way you can. Avoid tight pony tails, buns and even towel wraps that pull on your tender follicles causing breakage or severe stress. Eat nutritiously and get appropriate exercise and sleep to keep hair and scalp healthy. Treat any scalp infections as needed and avoid toxic hair products.