The Anti-Aging Program for Your Hair

As we mature, our hair changes along with us—a natural but often frustrating process. “The life span and capability of hair follicle stem cells decrease as we age, inhibiting the ability to regenerate the cells responsible for hair growth, texture, and pigment,” explains Jim Markham, CEO and Founder of ColorProof. Meaning: Locks that were once lush and voluminous become weak, dull, and gray; hair loss and thinning is an issue, too, that 40% of American women struggle with, accordinig to the American Academy of Dermatology.

We may not be able to turn back the clock, but there are ways to slow down our hair’s aging process, restore its vitality, and make it appear fuller. Here, industry pros share their top anti-aging hair care and styling tips:

Feed your roots

Healthy, younger-looking hair begins with what you feed it. “Eat foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and mackerel—they’re great for promoting shiny hair, and shiny hair looks young and full of life,” says Angelo David ), New York City’s leading celebrity stylist for luxury wigs, extensions, and thinning hair solutions. Walnuts, lean meats, lentils, avocados, and green vegetables also contain essential vitamins and antioxidants that promote healthy strands.

It’s all in the cut

The right cut is key to making your hair look more youthful and full. At your next salon appointment, ask your stylist to give you “a cut that enhances your best features and doesn’t hide your face,” says Elvin Arvelo, co-owner of Oon Arvelo Salon in New York City. Adds Markham: “Medium and shorter lengths are most flattering on women with thinning hair, making it appear fuller and stronger. Avoid longer lengths, which only draw attention to problem and can make ends look scraggly.” Also, stay away from razor cuts or too many layers.

Color yourself fuller

Hair thins as we age, and professional color is one of the easiest ways to make your locks appear thicker and more vivacious. Start by coloring over your grays—that being said, Markham suggests that you “stick to natural colors with highlights and lowlights to create dimension—going too dark with your hair color will contrast with the scalp and further accentuates show-through in thinning areas.”

If you hair took on an ashier tone as you aged, “ask your colorist to add buttery tones to create a fuller, more youthful look,” says Peter Oon, co-owner of Oon Arvelo Salon.

Avoid daily shampoos

It’s okay to skip a hair wash day—in fact, the experts encourage it. “Over-shampooing your strands can disrupt the pH balance of your scalp and wash away natural oils necessary for the wellness of your hair,” explains Julien Farel, founder of Julien Farel Anti-Aging Haircare. “It can also diminish the life of your hair color. If you work out daily, you’re better off rinsing your hair with just water on alternate days.”

Beat the heat

We always feel our best on a good hair day—but for most, a gorgeous hairstyle is usually thanks to our trusty blow dryers, flat irons, or curling wands. Unfortunately, excessive heat is especially detrimental to aging hair, damaging the cuticle and causing frizz, dullness, and breakage. “Use a thermal protectant before each heat-related styling step,” says Nik Martel, Creative Artist for Farouk Systems. Or even better: skip the hot tools all together and go au natural!

Sun’s out—hats on

And don’t forget about heat protection from the sun! “Sunlight zaps out any moisture from your strands and dulls your color,” says Angelo David. “Wear a hat whenever you can and use products that boast SPF protection.”

Be gentle

Hair becomes more delicate as we age, so it’s extremely important to treat it with extra TLC—similar to how you handle your eye area. “We forget that the everyday hairstyles we create—like buns, braids, and ponytails—can cause wear and tear,” explains Farel. “Avoid tools and hairstyles that pull your hair, like rough brushes and tight ponytails.” And when you want to put your hair up in the summer heat, do so with hairpins or a fabric elastic without a metal clasp to avoid snagging.

Also, 50% of hair breakage occurs when it’s wet; once you hop out of the shower, “use a wide tooth comb or flexible bristle detangling brush to gently work through knots, starting at the ends and working your way up,” says Markham.

Amp up your product arsenal

Arm yourself with these must-own hair products for achieving thicker-looking locks:

  • Volumizing mousse or root boost to add instant volume before you blow-dry. (Try: ColorProof LiftIt Mousse Color Protect Root Boost)
  • Shine spray, because brilliant, lustrous hair is young-looking hair! (Try: Redken Diamond Oil High Shine Airy Mist)
  • Hair building fibers, which are ideal for concealing bald spots and achieving thickness. (Try: Toppik Hair Building Fibers)
  • Detangling spray to prevent breakage when combing wet hair. (Try: Not Your Mother’s Knotty To Nice Conditioning Detangler)
  • Dry shampoo that adds volume and absorbs excess oil on alternate hair-washing days. (Try: Dove Refresh+Care Invigorating Dry Shampoo)

But remember that less is more—too much product will weigh thinning hair down.

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