What happens to our hair as we get older?

Strong, naturally conditioned, fast-growing hair is a priviledge of youth.

Just as there are noticeable changes to skin, metabolism, muscles and hormones over time, hair also changes. The products and processes that worked so well for our hair in our twenties or thirties can miss the mark when we’re a little older.

Age related changes to the cosmetic appearance of hair are related to pigmentation (greying of the hair), structural properties, and lipid composition.

Grey hair:

The main cause of greys and thinning hair, are your parents, or more accurately, genetics. Extreme stress can greys, but more commonly the age which hair turns grey is determined by genetics.

Grey hairs can have a tougher, frizzier texture than naturally pigmented hair, which can be harder to manage. This may be more apparent with first greys, and when the percentage of greys is lower.

Hair diameter:

Thinning hair is another often unwanted change that comes with age.

The hair follicle changes and shrinks over time, leading to new hair growth which is thinner and more diffuse.

Hair grows occurs during the growth phase of the hair cycle. Over time the growth phase becomes shorter, resulting in slower hair growth overall. Some hair always naturally falls out over time, which is usually offset by strong new hair growth when we’re younger. As we age, new hair growth is slower, making it harder to grow hair longer.

Getting length in your new hair growth as you age can be difficult to achieve, as the resting and growth cycles of the hair become longer.

The follicle of the hair also shrinks over time, which leads to thinner, more diffuse new hair growth.

Lipid composition:

Hormonal changes lead to lower sebum production in the scalp and skin. Sebum naturally lubricates and protects the scalp and hair, strengthening each strand of hair. Without natural oils new hair growth will be dry, weak and prone to breakage.  

Sebum production decreases with age.

Over time hair typically becomes thinner and weaker, due to changes to the follicle and sebum. As a result, older hair is deprived of lipids which strengthen and protect hair.

A better way to care for your hair:

There’s nothing you can do about your age or genetics, but you can counter some of the effects of ageing on hair.

Allow the natural oils you have to assist your hair by increasing the intervals between shampooing. By shampooing less you allow the sebum to hydrate your hair, improving its strength and shine.

Doing less to your hair is helpful to maintaining strong, shiny, healthy hair as you get a bit older. A lot of hair damage is self-inflicted and older hair isn’t quite as resilient and strong as it once was, so it is easily damaged.

Reduce or eliminate heated drying and styling tools, and choose colouring, styling and care products which have less harmful ingredients.

Choose better quality hair colour products without ammonia and PPD which are unneccssary, harsh and unhealthy.

Restore strengthening lipids to your scalp and strengthen your new growth with a lightweight oil such as Tsubaki (Camellia) oil, which will deeply nourish your scalp and hair, and support and strengthen hair growth, restore shine and prevent hair breakage.

Especially as we age, hair can really benefit from support and care which nurtures the condition of hair.

I am a 73 year old lady who had thinning hair due to over colouring. This worried me. After a lot of research I found The Shade, after several applications I now have shiny, thicker, less falling out, healthy hair. Thank you sincerely.

M. Lascelles

1 reply on “What happens to our hair as we get older?”

  • Thank you for your blog. I am 55 and my hair has always been fine and thin. I have 2A hair to be exact. Unfortunately, my hair was being bleached and ruined it. I have been growing it out for almost a year. It was so badly damaged that my ends look thin. I am adding low lights to it, but hair is dark blonde naturally and it turns orangey. I am thinking of not low lighting anymore and just let it grow. Thank you.

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