As we age, our hair grows finer, grayer, thinner -- and dry enough to spark a brush fire. Why? Because, as you age, your scalp produces fewer natural oils that are the key to maintaining moisture. When it comes to color, hair follicles make less melanin -- a pigment -- as you age, leading to gray hair. The average person notices their first gray hair in their 30s and most people by their 40s, experts say. Have we depressed you yet? The good news, though, is that there are steps you can take to make your hair look younger.
We consulted Dr. Alan Bauman, a board-certified hair restoration physician, as well as other experts, to ask for some anti-aging hair tips. Here's what we found out. Have your own ideas? Let us know in comments.
1. Eat right.
"It may seem unrelated, but what you eat, or don't eat, has a huge impact on the health of your hair, especially as it ages. There are a number of hair super-foods that can nourish your strands and improve your hair's length, shine and thickness, including salmon, which is loaded with protein and omega-3 fatty acids, dark green vegetables for vitamins A and C, and nuts, which are a terrific source of zinc. Protein is also essential for healthy hair," Bauman said.
2. Change your styling habits.
"As the hair ages, women tend to do more styling, which disrupts and damages the cuticle and makes the hair dull and more prone to breakage. Other frequent mistakes include over-washing your hair, which can strip the oils from your hair and contribute to dryness, and overuse of hair extensions which can put traction on the follicles leading to poor hair growth," Bauman said.
3. Get a little help from your products.
"Some of the best ingredients to counteract the signs of aging hair and scalp include caffeine, panthenol and niacinamide. There are a number of thickening hair care lines on the market that offer a quick cosmetic way to add volume to hair by thickening individual strands without making them sticky or stiff," Bauman said.
4. Part your hair differently.
One of the first places you may spot hair thinning is in your part. To camouflage a widening part, stylists recommend a "zigzag" part in place of a straight one. Stylist Thom Priano tells Prevention this will help mask thinning and create volume throughout your style.
5. Try biotin.
Biotin is a vitamin that's necessary for strong, healthy hair. Without enough biotin, hair can become thinner. Studies have shown that supplementing with biotin can safely help with hair volume and thickness, in people with temporary hair thinning. Try taking a biotin supplement or get plenty of biotin-rich foods in your diet, including peanut butter, eggs, cheese, and raspberries.
6. Protect against sun damage.
People usually think of the skin when they think of sun damage. But the sun can also damage the hair and make it age faster. Exposure to the sun's UV rays can damage the proteins in your hair, making it weak and more prone to breakage, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Wear a sun hat to protect your hair, skin and scalp.
If you've tried all of the above and yet your hair still looks old and tired, don't fret. You can always try a new haircut in an effort to take years off your face. Walk into the salon looking one age, and walk out looking another. What could be better than that?