Just like your face ages with time, with wrinkles and brown spots appearing as you grow older, your scalp also goes through aging and bears its signs.
It is a natural process as cell renewal is no longer at its optimum and less blood circulation occurs. The number of nutrients supplied to the scalp for hair growth, such as vitamins and minerals, also reduces, resulting in visible thinning of the hair.
Going gray is normal and is part of the aging process. It is estimated that about 50% of the population develops 50% gray hair by the time they reach 50 years old; this is called the 50-50-50 rule. (1)
5 Signs Your Hair Is Aging
You can tell your hair is aging when you notice the following changes:
1. Gray hair
Gray hair is one of the first signs that warn you of hair aging. It is caused by the lack of pigment production in the hair follicles and starts mostly in your 30s and 40s.
While many choose to cover gray hair up with hair color, many embrace it and use it to their advantage.
2. Dry hair
When hair is aging, it tuns dry due to the shrinking oil glands that reduce the production of natural oils that nourish the hair.
- For age-related dryness, add much-needed hydration and oil to your hair. Switch to a gentle shampoo and conditioner, and then use hair serum or oil to keep it soft and silky. Opt for onion-based shampoos and conditioners as onion is rich in sulfur, which is needed for hair growth and strengthening. It also helps reduce hair breakage and thinning and supports the regeneration of hair follicles.
- Skip out on harsh hair treatments such as hair coloring and heat styling after the age of 40 as you start losing natural fatty acids, oil, and keratin proteins, resulting in dry and thirsty hair.
3. Hair thinning
You usually grow about 100 hairs a day, but if your hair is more fragile and starts breaking faster than it grows, hair thinning results.
It is common for people to lose 50–100 hairs per day during this natural cycle. (2)
- Using Minoxidil can give you a fuller hair look.
- Also, you can include avocado oil, coconut oil, and aloe vera juice in your hair regimen to counter the hair thinning and baldness. Instead of using only coconut oil, purchase one that contains the goodness of onion juice as the high sulfur content in onion juice can help regenerate hair on the scalp.
4. Brittle hair
When your hair is super dry and becomes brittle, it loses elasticity, so when you comb it or use hair bands and clips, your hair breaks.
- Stop using chemicals and hot styling tools.
- Use a protein-rich conditioner to add strength to your hair.
- Consider a biotin supplement (3) to support healthy hair production.
5. Loss of hair volume
One way you can know that your hair is aging is you are losing hair volume. Hair diameter also changes as you age. (4)
- Avoid using heavy products that will weigh your hair down and look flat. Opt for volumizing shampoos and conditioners that are lightweight.
- Add volume to your hair by holding your head upside down while you blow-dry it.
- Some nutritional supplements help regrow hair and prevent shedding of hair. (5) Consult your doctor about it.
Ways to Control Hair Aging
The science behind hair aging can be summed up in two ways: one is the management of the hair quantity, quality, and color and two is the condition of the hair on the microscopic level, including the biochemical and molecular changes due to aging.
There are so many options for you to tackle hair aging, from shampoo selection to the use of conditioner, hair color, hairstyling aids, and scalp photoprotection. It’s also no secret that your lifestyle and diet play a very important role in mitigating the process of hair aging.
Here are some things you can do to delay, lessen, reverse or control the process of hair aging: (4)
1. Consume a nutrient-rich diet
Since the hair follicles are made up of mainly protein, you cannot afford to miss out on this vital nutrient. Lack of protein can lead to hair loss.
Thus, consuming protein-rich foods such as pulses, corn, broccoli, spinach, and asparagus would greatly help.
Moreover, include green leafy veggies in your diet that are rich in nutrients beneficial for your hair such as vitamin A and C, folate, and iron.
2. Seek medical treatments
Medical treatments including the use of topical minoxidil and 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors can help reverse hair loss.
Treatment of the hair scalp for specific dermatological conditions such as dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis can further help slow the process of hair aging.
3. Go for advanced hair care treatments
Recent advances in hair care products (especially leave-on technology) have spawned the addition of caffeine, niacinamide, panthenol, dimethicone, and an acrylate polymer (CNPDA) to shampoos, serums, and masks.
These compounds and formulations have been found to positively affect hair diameter and the terminal scalp hair fibers.
4. Try botanicals
Apart from treatments, there are botanicals with anti-aging effects from Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine that work alongside Western medicine.
Herbs with popular antiaging effects, such as tuber fleeceflower and American ginseng, are used in hair care products even in the Western market.
Gray and Then White Hair
For most people, the woes of aging start when they notice a few gray hairs sticking out of their hair. Hair aging starts at different ages for people and is mainly determined by genetics.
Melanocytes, the cells at the base of the hair follicle, produce less melanin as you age. Melanin is the pigment responsible for hair color, and when melanocytes stop producing melanin, the hair grows white. (1)
General Queries Related to Hair Aging
What is the effect of aging on hair?
Everyone experiences some hair changes with aging, including hair loss, hair breakage, and hair thinning. The hair growth rate also slows down, and the hair strands become smaller and contain less pigment.
The once bouncy locks that you used to have when you were younger become coarse and brittle and thin as you age.
Can hair loss from aging be reversed?
Hair loss caused by reasons such as stress, an imbalanced diet, hormonal imbalances, or a dysfunctional endocrine system could be reversed in 6 months to 2 years by treating the root cause. However, if the hair loss is due to aging, then it is not reversible as it is a result of genetics.
Cosmetic treatments won’t reverse hair aging but can certainly help mitigate thinning of hair. (4)
How can I stop hair aging and regrow my hair naturally?
Some ways to improve hair loss due to aging are – Massaging the scalp with hair oils and masks to stimulate the scalp, which may improve hair thickness, using aloe vera as a hair mask to treat hair loss, coconut oil massage can improve hair fall, modifying your diet, and taking hair growth supplements upon your doctor’s recommendation.
Hair aging is part of growing older. Genetics, biochemical and hormonal changes to the hair follicle, and environmental pollution are the main reasons for it.
But with top-notch hair care, you can minimize most of these changes and enjoy good hair days again!
- Jo SK, Lee JY, Lee Y, Kim CD, Lee J-H, Lee YH. Three streams for the mechanism of hair graying. Annals of dermatology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6029974/. Published August 2018.
- Types of hair loss. Patient Care at NYU Langone Health. https://nyulangone.org/conditions/hair-loss/types.
- Patel DP, Swink SM, Castelo-Soccio L. A review of the use of biotin for hair loss. Skin appendage disorders. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5582478/. Published August 2017.
- Trüeb RM, Rezende HD, Dias MFRG. A comment on the science of hair aging. International journal of trichology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6369639/. Published 2018.
- Guo EL, Katta R. Diet and hair loss: Effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use. Dermatology practical & conceptual. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5315033/. Published January 31, 2017.