What happens to aging hair?

Aging is unavoidable, and it affects every part of your body, including your hair. Take care of your hair as you age by washing it less frequently, towel drying instead of blow drying it, wearing heatless hairstyles and wearing your hair down.
Aging is unavoidable, and it affects every part of your body, including your hair. Take care of your hair as you age by washing it less frequently, towel drying instead of blow drying it, wearing heatless hairstyles and wearing your hair down.

Aging is unavoidable, and it affects every part of your body, including your hair. Most people think of "aging" hair as either hair loss and balding or gray hair. 

Gray hair happens because your pigment cells gradually stop making pigment as you get older. Additionally, some factors like sunlight cause oxidative stress and damage to your pigment cells, which leads to less pigmentation and gray hair.

Your hair naturally thins as you get older, too. When you’re younger, one strand of hair tends to last between 2 to 7 years. As you get older, your hair falls out faster and is replaced with finer hair.

As you age, your hair also changes in:

  • Diameter
  • Structure
  • Fat content
  • Scalp oils
  • Density

These changes lead to fine, thinning hair that’s dry and frizzy. Lower fat content and scalp oils, hair coloring chemicals, and structural changes also make your hair prone to breaking.

How do you keep your hair healthy when aging?

While normal aging changes your hair, there are other factors that can affect your hair. Managing these can help you keep your hair healthy as you age. 

Managing thyroid disease

Hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroid diseases can cause hair loss and thinning. Thyroid diseases are more common in older adults, and some studies show it affects as much as 7 to 14 percent of older adults. 

In most cases, hair loss and thinning can be reversed when you get your hormone levels back to normal, but it can take time. Your doctor will prescribe you thyroid hormone medication if it’s necessary.

Manage other medications

Hair loss and growth problems are a side effect of certain blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, gout, and hormone replacement medications. Talk to your doctor about managing side effects and medications. 

If you take hormone replacement to manage menopause symptoms, you might have a lot of shedding when you stop taking the medication. Hair shedding also happens as a normal part of menopause.

Stop smoking

Experts don’t fully understand how smoking affects your hair, but studies show that it can make your hair age faster. This leads to early graying and hair loss. Smoking also causes inflammation in your body, which can lead to hair loss. 

Eat a healthy diet

It’s common to eat smaller portions as you get older. Your metabolism slows down, and you don’t have as much of an appetite. This means that you're not receiving enough calories, vitamins, and nutrients, though, which can contribute to hair loss. It’s important to eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and lean meats. 

You might hear that hair growth supplements can help your hair, but getting too many vitamins can also harm your hair. Talk to your doctor before you take any supplements.

How do you moisturize mature hair?

Since mature hair is dry, wash and condition it gently to stop more damage. Use a gentle shampoo and focus on your scalp and roots instead of your ends. Scrubbing the length of your hair can make it dull, rough, and full of flyaways. 

Use a conditioner after every wash and focus on the ends. This will help treat any weathering and damage. 

What are other anti-aging hair care tips?

Personal habits can also affect your hair. These anti-aging hair care tips might help keep your hair healthy: 

Change your hair care habits

Washing your hair too often, using a lot of heat, and wearing tight hairstyles can all damage your hair. Since aging hair is already dry and prone to breaking, make some adjustments.

You can:

  • Wash your hair twice a week instead of every day
  • Let your hair dry instead of using a blow dryer
  • Gently wrap your hair in a towel instead of rubbing it dry
  • Try heatless hairstyles
  • Wear your hair down

Be careful with harsh hair chemicals

Lots of people color gray hair. If you normally do this at home, stop and see a hairstylist. They can choose safer products based on your hair type and your scalp. Ask them to use a moisturizing conditioner after coloring.

Final considerations

Aging hair is normal and unavoidable. In some cases, hair changes can be caused by hair habits or other health problems. Talk to your doctor if you’re worried about your hair.

SLIDESHOW

Plastic Surgery: Before and After Photos of Cosmetic Surgeries See Slideshow

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 11/17/2021
References
SOURCES:

American Academy of Dermatology Association: "Hair loss: Tips for managing," "How to stop damaging your hair," "Tips for healthy hair."

Cleveland Clinic: "Is My Thyroid Condition to Blame for My Hair Loss?" "Your Guide to Aging, Thinning Hair: 5 Simple Tips."

International Journal of Trichology: "A Comment on the Science of Hair Aging."

Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology: "Hair Aging in Different Races and Ethnicities."

Kim, M. EndoText, "Hypothyroidism in Older Adults," MDText.com Inc, 2000.

Mayo Clinic: "Hair loss."

National Institutes of Health National Institute on Aging: "Know Your Food Groups."