Mane Attraction

Does it feel like all your good hair days are behind you? Here’s how to preserve, protect and prevent maturing strands from showing your age.

| August 13th, 2012

These days, legendary 90’s supermodel Cindy Crawford laments not the inevitable loss of collagen or slowing metabolism that accompanies aging: She simply wants her old hair back. “Everyone loves to talk about plastic surgery and all that stuff, but hair is the most underestimated thing—if you have good color and shiny hair, you can see that across a room,” she recently told Allure magazine. “Now, I look at my daughter's and I'm like, 'You have my old hair! I want it back!'"

That’s because just as our skin succumbs to the pull of gravity, our hair—an oft-overlooked feature in the gargantuan anti-aging industry—changes in ways that we wish it wouldn’t. Yup, we’re talking hair loss, thinning, graying and dullness.

QUIZ: How Healthy Are Your Strands?

While plenty of experts say the slump starts after age 30, “it varies from person to person,” says Alan J. Bauman, M.D., a top U.S. medical expert on hair loss and restoration. “There are many factors that play a role: heredity, diet habits and even over-styling can cause your hair to age prematurely. An often overlooked factor is smoking, which is especially damaging to your hair.”

Mindy Goldstein, Ph.D., former president of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, echoes this sentiment. “The follicles in aging hair are smaller and have less pigment,” she explains. “So the thick, coarse hair of a young adult eventually becomes thin, fine, light-colored hair.”

Mane Matters

Gray hairs may be the most obvious sign of impending dotage, but they seem less distressing when we take a closer look at all the other annoying ways hair quality degrades with age. “The first sign of loss is shine and opulence, which we associate with healthy hair and youth,” says N.Y.C.-based hairstylist, author and salon owner Eva Scrivo. Another issue: thinning. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, about 30 million American women are dealing with hereditary hair loss. Diet, medical problems, hormones, stress and certain medications can also be factors, so if the loss is dramatic (more than typical 100 strands you should expect to shed every day), see a doctor to rule out any major issues.

It’s a bummer, we know.

MORE: Going Gray Stylishly

Product Rx

Luckily, with so many new over-the-counter and prescription products it’s never been easier to add life to your locks. Scrivo recommends first buying trial sizes in order to suss out what really works without making too big a financial commitment “What worked in your 20s is not going to work in your 60s,” she points out.

Strength: In her role as vice president of research and development Dr. Goldstein helped develop Keranique, a new anti-aging hair care line for women that’s imbued with a keratin and protein complex to help strengthen the hair shaft and make hair appear fuller, stronger and shinier.

Unilever’s recently launched Clear Scalp & Hair Therapy also targets the scalp to create optimum hair health, and Aveda’s new Invati products aim to “rehabilitate” and reduce breakage.

Shine: Just like skin loses its glow, most everyone tends to see a lack of overall luster. The key is keeping the outermost layer of hair—the cuticle—flat and smooth so it reflects light. But years of wear-and-tear, styling and sun damage means the roughed-up cuticle doesn’t reflect way it used to. Silicones are one way to get the glow back, but ultimately weigh down hair. Scrivo swears by all-natural amla oil, an Ayurvedic remedy that naturally strengthens the hair and nourishes the scalp. “Brush it in your hair before you go to bed, then rinse it out in the morning,” she advises.  She also recommends Shu Uemura’s Prime Plenish, a line specially formulated to bulk up aging hair fibers and Kérastase’s Age Recharge line to strengthen brittle strands.

QUIZ: Are you Eating Right for Your Hair?

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