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December 1, 2007

Is Your Hair Aging You?

Forget your hands. These days, experts say your hair is what really betrays your age. Here, how to stay forever young — follicularly speaking.

Is Your Hair Aging You?

Photo Credit: Greg Delves

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There's an axiom in the beauty industry that hair-care trends follow skin-care trends. So it was probably only a matter of time before words like antiaging and renewal started turning up on shampoos, conditioners, and stylers. Beyond being trendy, however, there happens to be a real reason that hair-care companies are choosing to bring age-proofing products to market. Put simply: We're living longer, and we're torturing our hair like never before. Combine that with increased environmental insult and basic chronological aging, and you've got an epidemic of parched, brittle, and frayed "old lady" hair. The good news is that you don't have to take extreme measures to score instantly younger-looking strands. What must you do? Read on.


"Anyone older than 30 will eventually have finer, thinner hair," says Michael Lorin Reed, M.D., a New York City dermatologist. That said, 50 percent of women at some point in their post-puberty lives will suffer female-pattern hair loss, a genetic and hormonal condition causing sparseness around the crown. The most common treatment: topical Minoxidil products. Estrogen-dominant birth-control pills also often help slow shedding, as does estrogen-replacement therapy (for post-menopausal women). If you don't suffer from female-pattern hair loss, telogen effluvium (dramatic shedding triggered by a stressful event such as pregnancy, surgery, significant weight loss, or an illness with a high fever), or alopecia areata (patchy thinning caused by an immune-system imbalance) — which are treatable in the hands of a dermatologist — the best way to retain your locks is to treat them with love. Chemically process as infrequently as possible, and avoid anything that pulls on hair, such as tight rollers, ponytails, weaves, and braids. "Not only can they cause breakage, but they can destroy your roots permanently, rendering them unable to produce hair," says Dr. Reed. In addition, don't underestimate the power of proper nutrition. "If you want to keep your hair, control your weight by exercising, not dieting," says Dr. Reed. He recommends consuming high-protein, low-fat, low-carb foods (think South Beach diet) for hair health, as well as popping 5,000 micrograms of biotin (a B vitamin) daily. Last, use protein-laced styling products. As your hair thins, it gets weaker and less able to support its own weight, leading to breakage and loss. "Protein fortifies the hair shaft. It can actually stick itself into hair and pull splitting sections together," says Gary Travis, an Atlanta-based stylist. (Try Nexxus Y Serum Younger Looking Hair shampoo and conditioner and Nature's Gate Stayin' Alive Anti-aging shampoo and conditioner.)

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