Your hairlike your taste music and comfort level with social media, can reveal your age. Hair changes with age, just like the rest of your body. “Hair follicles get smaller, sebum production decreases, and some people lose pigment cells and turn gray,” says Francesca Fusco, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.
When the hormones change, the hair sheds more and grows back more slowly, making it thinner, says David Kingsley, PhD, president of the World Trichology Society. In addition, hormones trigger a reduction in sebum production, which can cause hair to feel drier. At the same time, Fusco says, the pigment cells in the hair bulb dwindle over time, causing the hair to turn gray.
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“Address any thinning early on,” says Fusco. “We have treatments like Minoxidil and Propecia, which work to regrow hair,” she says. “But it is best to rule out other causes such as anemia, iron deficiencyAutoimmune disease or the side effects of medication.”
“When your hair is thinning, it’s not a bad idea to cut your hair a little shorter, but it’s a myth that after a certain age you need to cut your hair short,” says Nunzio Saviano, owner of Nunzio Saviano Salon in New York-City. “You can have beautiful hair that falls below your shoulders as long as it’s cut in longer layers that move together and give the illusion of fullness.” He explains that too many layers only accentuate the thinning texture, but longer layers do keep shape and look full.
“protein and iron are the two most important things to have in your body diet for healthy hair,” says Fusco. “If your diet is restricted, it can have an impact hair loss.” She advises asking your doctor for a blood test and medical history to diagnose iron deficiency. Vitamin Dor others minerals. Once that’s ruled out, Fusco likes the supplement Nutrafol because it contains zinc and others antioxidants that promote hair growth. “There is good research out there and my patients have been happy with the results,” she says.
Saviano advises clients to avoid drying mousses and gels as they can cause hair to look dull and lose shine. His trick: “I like to use mousse for curly hair because it’s more moisturizing and less drying for the hair,” he says. Fusco recommends rich conditioning treatments to moisturize aging strands. She likes macadamia nut oil masks once a week.
It is helpful to know the texture and density of your hair before treating it.
Texture is a measure of your hair’s diameter. The wider each follicle, the “rougher” its texture. Hair with a small diameter is said to have a “fine” texture. A medium texture is somewhere in between.
You can get a feel for the texture by holding a single hair between your thumb and forefinger. You won’t be able to feel hair with a fine texture, but a coarser texture will feel like a piece of thread.
A “thick head of hair” does not refer to the hair structure, but to its density. Density is expressed in terms of thick and thin. Hair is denser or “thick” when its growth pattern is closer together and “thin” when the pattern is further apart. All things being equal, those with thick hair have more hair on their heads than those with thin hair.
How can you tell which ones you have? Look at your head in the mirror. When you have thick hair, you can’t see your scalp. If you have thinner hair, your scalp will be more visible, especially where you part it.
But just because you have thin hair doesn’t necessarily mean you have fine hair. Texture and density can be completely independent of each other.
There’s an old women’s tale that you should brush 100 times a day. That’s not necessary, says Saviano. But gentle brushing can promote health blood flow to the scalp, which is good for the hair. In fact, some research shows this scalp massage can help increase hair thickness. He recommends using a Mason Pearson soft boar bristle brush, as the natural bristles are gentle on delicate strands and disperse the hair’s natural nourishing oils.
“Look for a zinc pyrithione shampoo – it’s usually in there shed formulas,” says Fusco. She says the ingredient is moisturizing and soothing whether you have dandruff or not, and can help anyone experience tightness or itching due to reduced sebum production on the scalp.
Heat styling can be particularly damaging thinning hair fibers. The stress can cause breakage, and because the hair produces less sebum, you have less natural protection against the heat. Fusco cautions against using too many heat devices and recommends keeping the time you expose your hair to a flat iron or blow dryer to a minimum.
Jet Rhys, owner of Jet Rhys salon in Solana Beach, CA, advises her clients not to use too much hairspray. The drying alcohols in these stylers can cause hair to become dry and brittle.
“There’s a wonderful product called Toppik that uses plant fibers to camouflage areas of thinning hair,” says Dr. Mona Gohara, Associate Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Yale University. She says it’s very helpful in creating the look of hair thickness.
Gray hair inherently has a wiry, dull texture that reflects less light, says Rhys.
“Semi-permanent or permanent color can enhance texture and add body, but you don’t have to completely cover your gray,” she says. “You can just add a few ribbons to add some sparkle.” She also says color has the benefit of adding volume, making even thinning hair feel fuller. “A few highlights around the temple can make a big difference when it comes to creating volume and shine,” says Saviano.
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