Just as our skin, nails and body shape reflect our general state of age and health, so can our hair. With time it begins to get thinner, courser and more brittle so it’s important to take great care of our locks to ensure it’s not giving away our age, or worse, adding years on!
While ageing is an issue, factors like blow-drying, dyeing, teasing and over-styling all play a big part in our hair’s health and vitality. What it really comes down to is treating our mane like we do our skin, with regular pampering sessions, a great care regime, moisture, protection and maintenance.
So, while we can’t magic up a time machine, we can give you expert tips and tricks to make your locks appear years younger for longer. Here, Jennifer Morgan from Morgan and Morgan hair salon tells us how…
What happens to our hair as we get older?
We’re all different, but most of us will start to see a significant change in our hair texture, tone and vibrancy by the age of 40. Turning grey is just one of the changes our hair may undergo as we age, but other factors like the thickness and where our hair grows (too little in some places, too much in others) can all occur over time.
‘As we age we produce less sebum (oil) and this impacts on the condition of the hair,’ says Jennifer. ‘The scalp can also tend to be drier, and because of the lack of natural oils, it can feel more brittle and look frizzy,’ she says. That’s not to say that years of permanent dyes, bleaching, straightening and the products that we use haven’t had an input on the condition too.
The reason our hair may also look and feel thinner is because after the age of 40 our oestrogen levels begin to drop. This slows the rate at which our hair grows and regenerates, and the actual diameter of the hair shaft gets smaller, giving the impression of finer hair with less volume.
However, with that said, it’s not too late to salvage tired looking tresses. Luckily anti-ageing hair care is here and celebrities like Julianne Moore, Susan Sarandon and Kate Winslet are shining examples of how to age gracefully. Just like them, you can team a great cut, colour and style to add life back into your locks and turn back the clock instantly.
Thankfully we’ve got the experts to tell us what looks good and what doesn’t, so don’t be afraid to get some input from your hair stylist. ‘Adding a fringe is a nice way to change your style, and depending on your face shape and hair texture your stylist can suggest something that will work you,’ says Jennifer.
There’s nothing wrong with keeping your hair longer either, contrary to the perception that middle-aged women only suit shorter styles. ‘There’s nothing wrong with long hair, at any age, as long as it’s well styled and in tip-top condition,’ says Jennifer. ‘Maybe try freshening up your look by adding layers to create more movement, volume and texture.’ With todays selection of products and tools it’s now a lot easier to maintain your style at home too.
If loss of hair density is bothering you, Jennifer recommends trying a style like the iconic bob or the newer lob (long bob) as these more blunt cuts help give the illusion of thicker locks. That’s not to say that short hair can’t look amazing too, ‘Just make sure you chose something young and fun,’ says Jennifer. ‘A style with lots of texture like a pixie cut can look edgy but also very smart and chic.’ For those not so daring, try chopping hair shorter at the back while leaving some length around the front to frame your face and play with your parting.
If you’re stuck in a rut with how to style you hair, think volume and shine.
The number one concern for women is lack of shine and vitality in the hair, so prep your locks with a leave in conditioner or nourishing oil after shampooing and conditioning. This will help soften and smooth the cuticle, ready for any look you want to create. If you’re thinking about using a hair-dryer, curling iron or straightener, be sure to also apply a heat protection spray. These lotions or sprays go on before styling to form a barrier between your hair and the hot appliance, cutting down on damage. ‘If you burn your hair it cannot repair itself, so you need to take this vital precaution,’ says Jennifer.
When it comes to volume, work with your style and natural texture. Body at the roots is especially desirable because when we get older our locks can easily look tired and limp. Try using a volume-boosting mouse at the roots after washing and amp up the height with a bit of backcombing or some texture dust at the crown.
TOP TIP: How to Fake Fuller Hair
Mousse is unbeatable for building body but sometimes tough to apply. Rubbing it in your palms first deflates its airiness and applying a dollop straight on the roots is difficult to disperse. Instead squirt some onto a vent brush and stroke it through your hair. The product will slowly leak through the brush’s openings, distributing it from root to end.
Like the ideal bathing suit or pair of jeans, the perfect haircare seems to get tougher to find as you age. Firstly, the condition of your hair is the most important. ‘If your hair is damaged, dry, frizzy or weak looking it can be very ageing to your overall appearance,’ says Jennifer. Regular in-salon and at-home treatments are key to looking after the texture, shine and manageability of your locks. ‘Fine hair needs a balance of protein and moisture whereas coarse hair needs as much moisture as it can get,’ says Jennifer.
Another reflection is how we look after ourselves in terms of diet, exercise and lifestyle. Eating foods and supplements rich in iron, vitamin D, iodine, protein and zinc can work their magic from the inside to promote healthy looking strands too.
Lastly, we have the option of anti-ageing hair products, just like skincare, to reverse the signs of ageing and protect against free-radical damage. These treatments nourish and rebalance the maturing scalp, promote hair growth and renew the hair fibre. Here are some of our favourites…
Redken Cerafill Retaliate Stimulating Shampoo, $34, Retaliate Stemoxydine EU, $55, and Maximize Dense FX, $40 – An absolute game changer for those concerned with hair loss and lack of thickness and density. All contain Filloxanethat works on the surface of each strand to provide instant thickening by increasing the diameter by 9% – it’s like gaining 9,000 more hairs after one use! ‘Over time you can slow down and even halt the hair loss process,’ says Jennifer.
TOP TIP: With all root spray products, take the time to massage them in thoroughly. A scalp massage is a simple yet powerful way to stimulate your hair follicles to promote growth.
Did you know that there is actually no such thing as grey hair? Neither did we. ‘This illusion comes from the combination of your own natural hair and the un-pigmented, white hair that occurs as we age,’ says Jennifer. ‘’Grey’ is actually a hot colour trend right now though, so there is no better time to embrace it,’ she says. However, how much it suits you depends on your natural colouring. ‘If your skin tone is warm (golden undertone) then you need to blend and mask the natural coolness of grey hair,’ says Jennifer. ‘If your skin tone is cool (blue undertones) then grey can be flattering, but the key is to keep the yellow out and use a toned conditioner to ensure the hair stays silver.’
Colour is an excellent way to update your look, but in the quest to stay on top of multiplying greys, one can become overzealous with permanent colour, layering it on root to tip every four to five weeks. The result? Hair that is monochromatic, potentially inky-dark and very dull. ‘Regrowth with a block colour is hard to avoid,’ says Jennifer. ‘If you’re highly white it pays to either go for a lighter shade or add lots of texture to your colour.’ An in-depth consultation with a professional colourist is the best way to ensure you get not only the right shade, but also the best application technique to suit you. ‘When we look at colour we take into consideration skin tone, eye colour, natural hair colour, texture, lifestyle and maintenance, which is critical in getting the result that will be most flattering,’ says Jennifer.
Home hair care is so important for all coloured hair. ‘The analogy I use with my clients is “would you throw a $300 silk dress in the washing machine and drier?” so why would you do the same to your hair,’ says Jennifer. She has a valid point!
She recommends that shampoo needs to be gentle and preferably sulphate free, and the conditioner to contain anti-oxidants, a UV filter and have a good balance of protein and moisture. ‘Get your colourist to prescribe a toning conditioner if they have an available range, so your colour stays vibrant for longer,’ she says.
WORDS: Elise Wilson
MAIN IMAGES: Susan Sarandon & Julianne Moore for L’Oreal Paris