3 Ways Our Hair Changes With Age
Can you stop the clock?
Just like our skin and bodies, our hair goes through changes as we age, starting in our twenties. If you feel like your hair used to be thicker or have a different texture, you're likely not imagining it.
How these changes play out is largely a matter of genetics, with some effects from environmental exposure, diet and lifestyle choices.
No matter how these changes affect you, taking good care of your hair is more important as you age.Below are three ways your hair changes with age and how to give it extra loving care now and in the years to come.
1. Hair Color Changes.
This is one of the clearest signs of aging. Hair color is due to a pigment called melanin, which hair follicles produce. Hair follicles are structures in the skin that make and grow hair. With aging, the follicles make less melanin, and this causes gray hair. Graying often begins in the 30s.Scalp hair often starts graying at the temples and extends to the top of the scalp. Hair color becomes lighter, eventually turning white.Body and facial hair also turn gray, but most often, this happens later than scalp hair. Hair in the armpit, chest, and pubic area may gray less or not at all.Graying is largely determined by your genes. Gray hair tends to occur earlier in white people and later in Asians. Nutritional supplements, vitamins, and other products will not stop or decrease the rate of graying.Some women choose to face their grey hairs with steady colorist appointments, while others simply embrace it. But aside from age, there are other genetic factors that contribute to how and when you’ll go grey. “The average age of Caucasians when greying begins is reportedly mid-30s. People of Asian descent tend to grey a little later, late 30s, and people of African descent even later—mid-40s [on average].
But why does our body produce white and grey hairs at all?
Our bodies’ systems slow down with age and cannot function in the same way as they did in our youth. This can affect the melanocyte cells that give your hair its natural color.It takes a lot of energy to produce hair and even more to produce pigmented hair fibers. Our bodies prioritize other systems over this as energy becomes limited. So in other words, your hair color has to be sacrificed in order to keep your aging body functioning properly.
You can also look to your parents to determine when you’ll begin greying (as well as how thick your hair will look later in life). Once a hair falls out and the follicle restarts the growth phase, it receives a signal from your DNA to skip the melanin saturation and start fresh as a grey, or non-pigmented, hair fiber.Over time, more and more hair strands receive their ‘grow grey’ signal, and eventually, you’ve got yourself a head of grey hair. The genetically controlled process can be affected by both your parents and overall family tree—so feel free to blame them if you see premature greying (meaning in your 20s or younger).
2. Hair Gets Thinner.
Hair is made of many protein strands. A single hair has a normal life between 2 and 7 years. That hair then falls out and is replaced with a new hair. How much hair you have on your body and head is also determined by your genes.
Nearly everyone loses hair as they get older. The rate at which your hair grows also gets slower.
Hair strands become smaller and have less pigment. So the thick, coarse hair of a young adult eventually becomes thin, fine, light-colored hair. Many hair follicles stop producing new hairs.
Men may start showing signs of baldness by the time they are 30 years old. Many men are nearly bald by age 60. A type of baldness related to the normal function of the male hormone testosterone is called male-pattern baldness. Hair loss may be at the temples or at the top of the head.
Women can develop a similar type of baldness as they age. This is called female-pattern baldness. Hair becomes less dense and the scalp may become visible.
As you age, your body and face also lose hair. Women's remaining facial hair may get coarser, most often on the chin and around the lips. Men may grow longer and coarser eyebrow, ear, and nose hair. If you have sudden hair loss contact your doctor as this can be a symptom of a health problem.
If you've ever heard that hair can change completely every seven years, this is actually true. Hair actually grows in bundles inside the follicle—each one actually holds multiple hair strands. Unfortunately, with each passing decade, those bundles of hair often lose some strands, which leads to the overall slow thinning that many women notice as they get older.
3. Hair Gets Dryer.
Your teenage years may have been marked by excessive oil production, in your hair as well as your complexion, but the hormonal changes you’ll experience in your 40s and beyond will also lead to changes in your scalp’s natural oil production.
Hair follicles [will] produce less oil for our scalp and hair. With this slower sebum production, hair will likely feel drier or more frizzy.
Aging hair can become drier, due to shrinking oil glands that keep natural oil from reaching the hair as it should.
A simple remedy for age-related dryness is adding moisture and oil. Moisturizing with gentle shampoos and conditioners, followed by a hair serum or oil, will help keep hair soft and manageable.
Using products that impart enough moisture for your hair and scalp are essential once you past 40.
Here are some solutions
In your 30’s taking biotin supplements can result in thicker, fuller, and healthier-looking hair. You can also focus on your vitamin B intake, since this essential nutrient helps carry nutrients and oxygen to your scalp which will help your hair grow.
Try adding B vitamins into your diet through whole grains, meat, seafood, and dark, leafy greens. Also, try to wash your hair no more than every other week. Over-washing can strip out your hair's naturally-produced sebum, which nourishes and moisturizes the scalp and helps keep hair healthy.
In your 40’s Certain medications can change the texture of your hair. Medications that control hormones (which are often prescribed in this decade) can have a huge impact on hair texture. For example, thyroid medications and birth control pills can often make hair fragile. Sometimes women even experience hair loss on these medications. Ask your physician about possible hair loss and thinning side effects your prescription may have—there might be a possibility to change your medication for one without the side effects.
In your 50’s This is also the time period where we most commonly see a slight decrease in our number of hair follicles. That’s why this age is a great time take a closer look at your digestion. By this age unaddressed digestive issues can have an impact on the absorption of nutrients crucial for your body & hair.
Ingesting nutrients through easier-to-absorb supplements, as opposed to solely relying on food sources, becomes more important. Consider increasing your support of a healthy inflammatory response with things like fish oil and curcumin.
In your 60’s The silver fox years! Regardless of ethnicity or hair color, our 60s is the decade where all of us finally experience some amount of graying hair. You’ve experienced a lot in your life, so it makes sense that your hair has, too! Our risk for cardiovascular and other inflammation-related diseases increases significantly by this age (which can further stress out our hair follicles), so consider amping up your antioxidant support with foods like dark greens and berries and supplements like vitamin C.
In your 70’s At this age, we note a decrease in average hair follicle count. The influence of menopause increases female’s hormone-sensitive hair loss risk to a discernible amount by their 70s. The typical hair loss that we see in our golden years may actually just be a decrease in the size of hair follicles. Because our growth cycle and hair follicles are unscarred and hanging in there, our hair follicles likely just need an extra push from the right nutrient, herbal, or pharmaceutical stimulation to keep them going.
No matter your age, it’s a good idea to do what you can to stay healthy and eat a balanced diet so your body can dedicate the energy required to reach your hair potential. The same healthy choices you make to for your skin and body feel and look good should also apply to your hair. So if you haven’t started your balanced diet, exercise regimen, and destressing or meditation (among others), it might be time to try.
Your hair’s future might look a little different if you start fueling your hair follicles today.