How to return hair to its youthful roots—voluminous, bouncy and colour-rich
By Lindsay MacAdam
It’s not just skin that demands extra attention as we age. Growing older brings a plethora of body chemistry shifts—caused by hormonal fluctuations, nutritional deficiencies, stress and other factors—that affect hair health. “We have the most hair as infants. At 18 we still have a massive, beautiful amount—but then it starts to decline,” says certified trichologist Kevin Mancuso, global creative director for Nexxus Salon Hair Care. Now, the beauty industry is taking notice: Mintel’s trendwatchers recently predicted we’ll increasingly see anti-aging benefits in haircare launches. Here’s how some new offerings can help tackle the effects of aging head-on.
Some research suggests that with age, our nutrient needs can change, and brittle, parched and thinning strands may be a sign of dietary deficiencies. So an expanding number of nutraceuticals promise to come to the rescue—among them, Philip Kingsley Trichotherapy Tricho Complex Hair Nutrition Formula, $79; Toppik Hair Nutrition 2-in-1 Capsules, $20; and Phyto Phytophanère, $45. These ingestible capsules typically offer nutrients like iron, zinc, copper, selenium, biotin and vitamins B12, C and D3, considered vital to hair health. “There is a significant body of evidence, for example, indicating that supplements can support recovery from hair loss arising from anemia,” says Mancuso.
As we age, hormonal fluctuations can leave hair follicles more susceptible to damage caused by dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a derivative of testosterone. “It accumulates in the follicle and makes it weaker, thinning the hair and causing you to produce less and less hair,” says Tim Abney, director of education at Kevin Murphy. Since DHT is at the root of many kinds of hair loss for both men and women, products are being created to target it. Kevin Murphy Body Mass, $39, for instance, is a leave-in treatment that contains oleanolic acid to eliminate DHT buildup. It also comes with eyelash thickening technology to add density and fullness, and biotin to strengthen and protect each strand. Since having less hair overall translates to a flatter appearance, Mancuso recommends using a silicone-free wash that won’t over-soften, such as Nexxus Therappe Shampoo, $14.
Over time, hair not only grows in less densely, but each strand also becomes thinner in diameter and weaker in structure—making it more prone to breakage and fly-aways. Abney emphasizes the importance of customizing product selection—rather than recommending all the haircare from a single range. Choose shampoo based on hair’s current state (such as dry), then select a conditioner and any intensive treatments based on the desired effects (such as volume-boosting), Abney suggests. New options include Dove Pure Care Dry Oil Shampoo, $7, designed for delicate, aging hair; Kérastase Densifique Masque Densité, $61, made to replenish moisture and add fullness; and Nioxin Diamax Advanced, $60, which adds visible fullness by coating each strand.
SHADES OF GREY
According to Mancuso, our coif’s natural colour begins to fade and dull even before it loses pigment—meaning women may want to consider sprucing up their hue well before they go silver. “Adding colour also puts some oils back in and helps the hair relax a bit since greys are traditionally more wiry and dry,” says Cole Thompson, creative director for Vidal Sassoon. For frequent at-home dyers, Vidal Sassoon’s new two-step kit, Salonist, $16, addresses a common blunder: DIY colourists typically apply it to the whole head at once. “So the hair that was coloured last time gets coloured again,” making it darker and darker with each dye job, warns Thompson. Since new growth and previously coloured hair absorb dye differently, treating these areas separately is key for best results. With Salonist, step one is a root touch-up with cream colour; step two calls for diluting the leftover cream with an included serum, which makes a less-intense glaze for the lengths of the hair.
Like skin, the scalp naturally starts to produce less oil as we age, which in turn makes hair increasingly brittle. “There’s a loss of the oils that naturally condition the hair and create shine,” says Mancuso, who notes that older women often avoid conditioner in an effort to retain as much volume as possible. “But they don’t realize that robbing hair of moisture makes it thinner, less responsive and really staticky, so it becomes very difficult to style.” If the hair is not properly hydrated on the inside, it can’t hold onto the right amount of moisture on the outside, says Abney. Replenishing lines designed for aging hair include the new TreSemmé Youth Boost, complete with shampoo, conditioner and two styling sprays, $6–$8 each. While oil-based treatment products can also help condition, ones with water-soluble silicones—like Nexxus Youth Renewal Rejuvenating Elixir, $20—will revive hair without adding heaviness.
Photography: Getty Images (hair)
This article was originally published in the Spring 2015 issue of Cosmetics magazine. For more, download our iPad edition.