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December 1, 2007

Is Your Hair Aging You?

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BOOST YOUR HAIR'S HEALTH

"Healthy hair connotes a healthy [read: young] woman," says Cheri McMaster, principal scientist for Pantene. In fact, Pantene conducted "back of head tests," in which the same woman appeared, photographed from behind, in two pictures. In one shot, the woman's hair was roughed up and frayed, while in the other, it was smooth, silky, and shiny. Panelists had five seconds to assess the woman's head; predictably, the woman with the disheveled 'do was repeatedly deemed older. Fortunately, restoring your hair's health is fairly easy. "You can take off about two years' worth of damage in a month," says McMaster. Start in the shower, when your hair is fragile and most receptive to aid. To replenish luster, look for shampoos and conditioners with dimethicone (a shine enhancer) and cetyl alcohol (a moisturizing ingredient). And even if you don't shampoo every time you shower, coat your hair with conditioner whenever it's exposed to any kind of water. Water is highly dulling and drying to hair. (Try Pantene Pro-V Restoratives Time Renewal shampoo and conditioner.) Furthermore, beware of professional-grade heat-styling tools (now readily available to the masses thanks to beauty-supply stores and the Internet). "A pro holds a high-wattage dryer a good 24 inches from your head, while we just blow the things into our eardrums, cooking our hair in the process," says Dara Lynn, director of consumer education at Philosophy. Wet-to-dry-hair straightening irons also wreak havoc. Limit use of these tools to no more than three times a week, and make sure that when you use them, you shield your strands with a heat-protectant spray — and supplement with weekly deep-conditioning treatments. Last, avoid UV rays. They strip hair of moisture, shine, and pigment. (Try Philosophy Shear Splendor Anti-Aging Bio-Peptide Conditioner mask, Matrix Sleek.Look Iron Smoother Hair Straightening Formula, and Frederic Fekkai Sun Protectant Spray for Hair with Shea Butter.)



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