As we get older, our bodies start to change. On the skin, wrinkles can begin to form and there is a general trend southwards as gravity begins to take its toll. The hair also experiences some changes as time goes on, but turning grey is just the tip of the iceberg.
Hair is constantly in a process of growth; this is divided into three stages called anagen, catagen and telogen. During the anagen phase your hair is growing continually and it usually lasts on average from three to five years. Then the hair enters the catagen phase or transitional stage that lasts about ten days approximately. Finally, it begins the resting phase when the hair is released and the follicle falls out.
Understanding the hair cycle is important as there are disruptions to the individual stages that occur as you age that impacts on the look and feel of your hair. Mainly the growth stage shortens, meaning your shedding hair faster so it feels thinner and it also can’t grow as long as it once did.
You also have to take into account the damage you’ve accumulated over the years, particularly in the case of women who may have been styling, heating, colouring and bleaching the hair for decades.
A Change In Colour
Our hair changes colour throughout our lives – many of us who had white blonde hair as children found ourselves to be mousy brown as adults. That trend continues as we age, and the majority of us will have bright white locks (if we have any left!) by the time we reach our seventies.
A pigment called melanin is what gives our hair its colour, and as we get older the hair follicles produce less melanin, which is what causes hair to begin to turn grey. Greying often begins when you are in your thirties and continues as you get older – by age 50, it’s thought that 50 per cent of people have grey hair. The first grey hairs often appear at the temples and spread back through the hair, eventually turning white as the pigment disappears completely.
Another potential cause of hair greying was uncovered by researchers at the University of Bradford in the UK [See full article here]. They showed that over time oxidative stress builds up causing the hair follicules to overproduce hydrogen peroxide. This blocks melanin production, meaning hair literally bleaches itself from the inside out.
A couple of years ago, L’Oreal announced it would be releasing a grey hair pill that could be taken as a preventative measure, although unfortunately it wouldn’t be able to reverse the colour change for anyone who’d already gone grey. However, the time of predicted launch has almost been and gone with no new news so it seems increasingly unlikely to hit the market any time soon.
As we age, the scalp’s production of oil also slows down and so your hair will appear dryer and coarser. This means it also more prone to damage and breakage.
A Change In Thickness
As there is less pigment in the hair, the strands become finer, so that what was once a full, thick head of hair becomes wispy and white. Hormonal fluctuations caused by the menopause can also result in thinner hair. Hair also tends to fall out more quickly, which contributes to this thinner overall appearance and can also lead to…
Hair loss can affect both men and women as we age – male pattern baldness is the most common example of this, with almost half of all men experiencing some hair loss by the time they turn 50. For women, the problem is rarer but does still happen – hair thinning can lead to a problem known as ‘female pattern baldness’ where bald patches are apparent on the scalp.
How Can I Prevent My Hair From Ageing?
There is nothing you can do to stop your hair from ageing – as with ageing everywhere else, it is an inevitable natural process. However, there are some things you can do to make the process less obvious. If you are struggling to cope with greying hair, you can dye it – most high street stores will now sell over-the-counter dyes that are specifically formulated to cover grey hairs, or you can seek advice from your hairdresser.
There are also many treatments available to deal with hair loss for both men and women, including hair transplant, various creams and shampoos, and scalp micropigmentation. For more hair care tips or how to prevent hair loss, get in touch with the experts at HisHair Clinic.