There's more to consider than whether to cover your grays.

By Lauren Wellbank
April 30, 2020
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Everyone wants to age gracefully—and we know how to do it. Follow along with Live Well for beauty tips, exercise routines, and lifestyle changes to make as the years go by. Together, they'll make aging simple, which gives you more time to embrace each moment.

It may come as no surprise that your hair changes as you age. The main reason? Over time your hair follicles and hair shaft begin to shrink, leading to thinning hair and hair loss—and it doesn't grow back as quickly as it once did. Ahead, what you can do to support your hair throughout the years, according to our experts.

Woman at dinner party
Credit: Getty / Hinterhaus Productions

Understand why your hair changes.

As we age, our hormones change, according to Heather Butterworth, Affinage Salon Professional and National Artistic Educator. "Hair follicles shrink, and your hair sheds with more frequency and doesn't grow back as quickly as before," she says. "The oil glands on your scalp begin to coast and get lazy about self-replenishing, which can contribute to scalp tightness, itchiness, and dry, brittle ends."

Avoid overstressing your hair now.

Sure, these changes will happen—but you can absolutely maintain beautiful hair over time. Dr. Gary Linkov, founder of The City Facial Plastics, says that it's important to avoid anything that damages your hair follicles at any stage of life, but that it's critical to take extra care as you age. He recommends skipping caustic chemicals as your hair begins to change (like perms, bleaches, and other treatments that can be hard on your hair) and styles that put your hair under undo stress (like too-tight ponytails).

Reverse existing damage.

According to Dr. Linkov, there is not much available over the counter that will help delay or reverse hair loss (which is the biggest challenge aging hair faces, second to graying), but he does say that you can try and prevent future loss by taking care of yourself now. "One should be sure to consume enough biotin and B-complex vitamins in the diet or supplement with vitamins such as Nutrafol or Viviscal for improved hair stability," he notes. And although you can't turn back the hands of time by visiting the salon, regular trips can help keep your hair looking and feeling healthier.

Take good care of your hair.

The other big step you can take according to Dr. Linkov, is showing your hair some kindness: "In general, treating your hair with gentle, bland shampoos and avoiding harmful behaviors—as well as implementing proper nutrition and supplementation—are the most important things to optimizing our hair health throughout the years." While it's not the news you want to hear if you are already experiencing these changes, keeping your hair care routine limited to more mild products and treatment may prevent you from having to take more drastic measures to fight hair loss down the line.

Accept that you can't fight genetics.

While some of what happens to your hair over time is environmental (think sun damage, exposure to chemicals, and diet) a lot of what happens on top of your head has to do with your genetics. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to change hereditary changes, but Dr. Linkov says that oral tablets, topical therapies, low level laser light, platelet rich plasma, and surgical options are all things you can consider if you are unhappy with the way your hair ages.

Comments (4)

Anonymous
March 9, 2021
I have had solid white hair for 15 years. I use a really good leave-in conditioner and have people stop me to compliment my hair. It is not the style that they are looking at because I do basically nothing after washing my hair except the conditioner.
Anonymous
September 26, 2020
So basically it sounds like there is nothing you can really do. Maybe buy a wig?
Anonymous
September 26, 2020
I think that a beautiful hair depends in wearing it with style and colour it often and of course use some hair treatments to make it easier to style
Anonymous
July 22, 2020
Often medications don’t tell you if hair loss is a side effect. Ask the pharmacist for that info as several times combinations of meds can cause hair loss. Manipulating the scalp during the day is an excellent way to stimulate hair follicular growth. Each follicle has the capability of up to 7 hairs at a time but if an over abundance of oil is present it clogs up an keeps the hair from being reproduced. Good hygiene is the basic for everyone.