Among other issues that need to occupy your mind—deadlines, climate change, restocking your favourite night cream—does hair ageing need to be one? Yes, hair does age, and it changes with age. This is not as simple as one, or bundles of, grey hair popping up overnight. We’re talking straight hair becoming wavy or curly, curly hair slowly straightening out, thick waterfalls of hair thinning out, or sudden and very unexpected spurts of hair growth—all unrelated to weather and treatments. The only change here is the passing of years. The idea here is to embrace this change—it’s very different from your skin and body going through the wear and tear of everyday life. But it doesn’t mean you need to prep your hair with anything ‘anti-ageing’. Firstly it’s inevitable. Secondly, it’s very subjective. And thirdly, for many men and women, the change can be for the better.
Is hair ageing a big deal?
Your hair changes every seven years—the normal life cycle of an individual strand of hair. “We are born with 1,00,000 hair follicles on our head that are all pre-programmed to go through a certain growth cycle, which is said to be seven years,” explains Dr Geetika Mittal Gupta, Isaac Luxe. “As we get older, hair cycles—anagen, the growth phase, gets shorter, and telogen, the shedding phase—gets longer. Each of our hair follicles are in a different growth phase, so it’s hard to say it’ll change completely in seven years, but yes, parts of it keep changing.” So this is not an unrelenting process of deterioration. Instead it’s a cycle that repeats over and over again, occasionally challenged by hormonal changes like, in the case of women, PCOS, menopause and pregnancy. Textures can change, as can volume, and so can finish—wouldn’t it be pleasant to have a wiry, cloudy storm of hair naturally, and wake up to glossy waves one day?
Yes, the process is different for both genders. Sana Khan at Asif Salon, Mumbai, says, “Hereditary pattern of hair (thinning or greying) is different in men and women. Most men start seeing a receding of hairline near their temporal lobes as an initial sign of hair thinning, whereas most women see it begin on the top of the head (frontal hairline recession),” says Sana Khan of Asif Salon. “Men may tend to lose their hair during the ageing process more than women. However, we’re seeing increasing numbers of women with signs of male pattern baldness too,” adds celebrity hairstylist, Adhuna Bhabani. “Everyone is unique. Genetics play a big role, but there are many other contributory factors. Diet, lifestyle, menopause, pregnancy—all affect the hair, so it is definitely not the same experience for everyone,” she explains.
Is it all just in the genes?
I have super fine, barely-there hair—exactly the same as my maternal grandmother. My sister has thick wavy walls of hair—exactly like that of my paternal grandmother. But that’s just the starting point; your lifestyle contributes equally to what your hair looks like, how it wears over the years, and what it will eventually look like when you’re, say, 80. Stress, mental or physical (hello hot blow-dries and rainbow coloured hair treatments), is a massive contributing factor as well. While you might not notice an immediate effect, over the years, despite the many corrective serums and treatments (to combat regular heat styling, for instance), your hair will undergo a change because of it.
Spot the difference
“Our clients come from varied backgrounds and lifestyles, and some of them have been with us for such a long period of time that we have seen them go through both pregnancy, menopause and ageing. This is why I can summarise with authority that each person is unique. What works for one may not work for another and so on—which is why one may not be able find the right styling product or shampoo [in the first go] sometimes. But eventually, one will find something that suits them. It can be a process of trial and error, especially because there are constant changes due to lifestyle and age,” explains Bhabani.
Celebrity hairstylist Savio John Pereira agrees, saying, “Many clients face various hair changes throughout their life, like seasonal hair fall, winter dry scalp or changes in texture (going from straight to wavy or curly, or from wavy or curly to straight hair). Everyone’s hair type is different and reacts different to external as well as internal factors.” Besides keeping an eye on product switch-ups and dietary and lifestyle changes, it’s recommended that you also look out for times when your hair behaves unexpectedly.
What can you do to keep hair ageing at bay?
Firstly, don’t panic. This is a normal process. For some, it’s in their 20s, for others, it’s in their 60s. If you want to pre-empt such a change, it’s the same advice you’d get for getting the best out of your body, mind and/or skin. Take care of yourself—mentally, emotionally and physically. “The only solution to these inevitable changes is to have and maintain a healthy lifestyle,” says Pereira. “If you want to have healthy hair, it’s very important to take care of overall health. Unhealthy weak hair often indicates internal issues like vitamin, protein or nutritional deficiencies. Get a haircut regularly. Do not excessively process the hair. Keep stress at bay. Eat and drink right. Stay fit and healthy,” he advises. As for what you can do with the disobedient strands, listen to Bhabani: “Work with your hair, not against it! That way it will always be easier for you to manage. If your hair is curly, then work with cut, colour, treatments and styles that enhance that. If your hair is very fine in texture, keep it shorter in length, and don’t add many layers. Use strong, geometric shapes to give the illusion of fullness. If your hair shows signs of male pattern baldness, it will always look thicker and fuller when it’s cut short and well.”
Want your ‘younger’ hair or some semblance of it back? Dr Gupta has a few words of advice.
- Eat a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals found in salmon, avocados, leafy vegetables, green juices and nuts.
- Opt for biotin and zinc supplements after talking to your dermatologist or trichologist.
- Stick to an oil-shampoo-conditioner routine, and leave hair straighteners and curlers for special events only.
- Reduce inflammation in your body by cutting out refined sugars, carbs and introducing low GI foods like quinoa, soybeans, lentils, fruits and veggies.
- Opt for hair PRP, a tried-and-tested procedure where the technician draws out your blood from the scalp (sounds scary, but it isn’t) with decent hair growth. Then, it’s spun in a centrifuge, which separates it into red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. The platelet-rich plasma is then injected back into the scalp every session. This goes on for about four to six sessions, and patients see an increase in hair growth.
- If you have thinning hair, consider mesotherapy, where a variety of growth factors mixture with biotin, zinc, amino acids encourage the hair’s natural regeneration and regrowth process. It has minimal downtime and helps regain hair growth in a few sessions. Speak to an expert about it.