Michelle just hit her 54th birthday and just wishes she could have her smooth hair like she used to in her 20s. Her texture and look of her hair is rough, but it doesn’t end there. It feels damaged so Michelle has become best friends with her hairdresser, getting trims very frequently. When she gets home, she is almost even more discouraged than she was before-the hair cuts almost made her hair feel more rough to the touch. Michelle, we know it’s hard, but hopefully we’ll provide some help.
Why does hair change?
When we get older, our hormone levels are shifting around and causing changes to our hair, skin, nails and everything else! This means that you can’t approach your hair at 45 years old the same way you did when you were 25 years old. One of the changes that can begin as early as your 30’s is coarser hair.
Estrogen controls the amount of time a hair will spend in the Anagen phase. If the levels are lowered, hair will have a shorter growth time, and an increased Anagen phase will correlate with an increased hair width. Since the hair stays in the keratinization phase of the follicle, it will have an increase in width, with a thicker and possibly more porous cuticle. This is why hair porosity and width are commonly more porous/wider as we age.
Both images show high porosity in an older client. The cuticle chipping in the first picture and the lifted cuticle scales in the second are indicators.
What does this mean for your hair?
The change in width and porosity causes the cuticle to be more sensitive to fragmentation by rough hygiene practices. (i.e. scrubbing too hard or brushing wet hair) Hair will appear drier, will be more inclined to tangle, and will reduce in volume. This may cause people to attempt more vigorous styling habits, such as heat styling, which can cause even more damage to the cuticle! The more damaged the cuticle becomes, the worse the issue gets. And now the solution seems further away than it began. Extra care should be taken to ensure the hair is protected from heat to reduce fragmentations or splits and practices like brushing hair when wet or teasing should be reduced.
Tips: For those who have coarse, higher porosity hair, consider using a pre-shampoo treatment. Oils (sparingly), to help soften the hair and protect from too much water absorption when washing.
Al-Azzawi, Farook, and Santiago Palacios. “Hormonal Changes during Menopause.” Maturitas, vol. 63, no. 2, 2009, pp. 135–137., doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2009.03.009.
Trueb, RalphM, et al. “A Comment on the Science of Hair Aging.” International Journal of Trichology, vol. 10, no. 6, 2018, p. 245., doi:10.4103/ijt.ijt_56_18.
Grotzinger, Andrew D., et al. “Genetic and Environmental Influences on Pubertal Hormones in Human Hair across Development.” 2017, doi:10.1101/152470.
Piérard-Franchimont, Claudine, and Gérald E. Piérard. “Alterations in Hair Follicle Dynamics in Women.” BioMed Research International, vol. 2013, 2013, pp. 1–5., doi:10.1155/2013/957432.
Takahashi, Toshie, et al. “Age-Dependent Changes in Damage Processes of Hair Cuticle.” Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, vol. 14, no. 1, 2015, pp. 2–8., doi:10.1111/jocd.12129.