How to make old hair look younger like Demi Moore does – expert tips on maintaining strong, healthy hair as you age
- At 59, Demi More won’t get rid of her long locks and why should you? There’s plenty you can do to keep it looking amazing as you get older
- We talked to two experts about how to combat issues regarding colour, thinning, texture, moisture levels and more
There was long an unspoken rule that women should cut their hair short after a certain age, with flowing manes swapped for anything from a classic bob to a shag or pixie cut. Nowadays, however, that’s a pretty outdated notion.
Actress Demi Moore, for instance, has made it clear she has no intention of getting rid of her long locks, but as the 59-year-old ages, keeping her hair healthy involves much more than it did when she was younger.
In a recent interview, she mentioned how it stuck with her when she heard people in the past talking about why older women should not wear long hair after a certain age.
“Like, who says? It made me feel like, well, if it can grow and it’s not unhealthy, then why shouldn’t we?”
Society has gotten used to seeing more conservative, “mature” hairstyles in women after their 40s. Still, just like Moore, millions of females worldwide have opted to ignore that paradigm.
While it can be cultural for women to adopt a shorter hairstyle after a certain age, there’s also a practical reason.
As our hair ages, the diameter of its follicles – the tubelike structures that surround the roots and strands of hair – slowly decreases, which leads to our hair thinning gradually, explains Anabel Kingsley, a consultant trichologist (someone who studies problems related to the hair or scalp).
But what else happens and how can we keep our hair healthy and long no matter the stage of our life?
Hair colour and pigment
Grey hairs are one of the first signs of ageing that we see in our hair. For some, these can appear very early in life, but as a general rule, we should all expect to lose hair pigment as years go by (more often than not, the lighter your skin is, the sooner you can expect greys to show up).
As we age, the pigment cells in our hair follicles – also known as melanin – gradually slow down their production levels. When a hair strand doesn’t carry as much melanin as before, it becomes lighter and more transparent, which manifests as grey, silver or white.
That hair also gets weaker as the cuticle – the outermost part of the hair shaft, which provides a protective layer – becomes less strong. This makes grey hair more susceptible to external factors such as pollution, UV radiation, heat, cold, and humidity, so it’s not uncommon for it to look and feel more dry and frizzy.
Hair loss and thinning
It’s normal to shed around 100 strands of hair daily, but as we age, hormonal fluctuations may dramatically affect hair loss and thinning patterns.
Bridgette Hill, a certified trichologist and founder of Root Cause Scalp Analysis, an online hair consultancy, says that hormonal imbalances can be caused by a variety of factors, including medication, nutrition, haircare ingredients and stress.
“There is a delicate balance of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone that impacts healthy scalp and hair growth,” Hill says. “Research has proven that even the slightest shift in these hormones can lead to severe hair shedding and hair loss.”
Hormone fluctuations during menopause cause changes in hair due to the drops in oestrogen and progesterone in women’s bodies. This phenomenon may lead to what’s known as “female pattern baldness”, resulting in thinning hair and a visible scalp.
While there’s no cure for it, treatments can help stimulate the growth of new hair, including topical and oral therapies and lasers. Experts also recommend a balanced diet rich in proteins, complex carbs and iron, as well as protein and vitamin supplements.
Hair texture and moisture levels
A strand of hair generally lives for up to six years and grows around half an inch every month. So keeping that in mind, you could say hair 12 inches long has been exposed to UV light, friction, minerals in the water, heat from styling tools, chemicals and sweat for around two years.
Regular exposure to all these external factors can drive your hair cuticle cells to expand and become weak, making your hair more prone to breakage and more challenging for it to retain moisture.
In addition, as time goes by and the follicles grow thinner, strands appear that look and feel coarser, which results in hair texture becoming prickly and dehydrated.
Adding sun exposure, heat styling damage and chemical treatments on top of your body’s natural timeline expedites this process.
To prevent premature texture changes you should treat your hair with conditioners and humectants to tie in moisture and seal the cuticle, add topical vitamin E derivatives, protect your hair from the sun, and maintain a healthy scalp.