When we think about how hair ages, there are two main categories of concern: graying and hair loss. We’ve all stood in the mirror and examined a gray strand or thinning patch of hair. Even though this is such a natural part of aging, it feels … disheartening, to say the least. That is, unless you’re super into the silver fox look or rocking baldness Samuel L. Jackson-style—go you! Still, many of us are quite attached to our youthful locks. We can’t have them forever, but we can support them aging gracefully …
Understand the Science of How Hair Ages
You’ve probably heard an old wives’ tale or two about why hair goes gray or leaves the scene altogether. Everything from “all that stress will turn you gray” to “your hair will never have the same texture after pregnancy” has circulated for decades. Here’s the thing: There is truth to be found in these sayings.
Some studies have suggested that aspects of our wellness and lifestyle factors are more to blame for hair loss than aging itself. Of course, graying hair is a slightly different story. But it too can be influenced by habits and health. What does this mean for those who hope to prolong their luscious locks and age gracefully? Well, before we talk solutions, here are a few takeaways from the science:
Stress Does Make You Go Gray
According to an article from the National Institutes of Health, “Your hair color is determined by pigment-producing cells called melanocytes. New melanocytes are made from melanocyte stem cells that live in the hair follicle at the base of your hair strand.”
All is well and good. But … not when we’re stressed. Because then we experience a release of a chemical called norepinephrine, which enters hair follicles and causes melanocytes to turn over so rapidly that no stem cells are left to create more afterward. Now, you’ve got a gray or white strand.
Hormones Also Influence How Hair Ages
For men, genetics play a key role (we’re sorry to say it) but the hormonal shifts that happen after puberty can sometimes be the first trigger for hair loss.
For women, a variety of changes in hormone levels can impact how hair ages. Telogen effluvium is a shedding of hair that affects between 40% and 50% of women during pregnancy. Of course, this usually reverses afterward (but often not before a major postpartum hair loss that ushers in the return of your normal growth cycle).
What isn’t likely to bounce back, in the same way, is hair loss caused by perimenopause and menopause. During these stages, estrogen and progesterone levels naturally decline. This slows hair growth and, by extension, makes hair loss more noticeable.
Some Habits Can Have an Impact, Too
We don’t mean to judge your vice, but cigarette smoke and UV radiation can both contribute to hair graying and hair loss over time. Smoking causes damage to hair follicles, which makes them less resilient and unable to resist aging. Meanwhile, as a review in the National Library of Medicine explains, “UVB radiation is responsible for hair protein loss and UVA radiation is responsible for color changes.” Ouch … a double whammy.
But trust us, it isn’t all bad news. Every one of these processes can be altered by our own choices—how we manage stress and various seasons of life, habits we ditch or make, what we feed and put on our bodies.
Think in Terms of Life Stages
It always pays to know your body! You’ll often hear people in their 40s and 50s say that they still feel 21 at heart. While this is a wonderful mindset, it doesn’t serve the act of supporting your body in aging gracefully. Remember that so much of how hair ages is about the ways we treat our bodies on the whole throughout the decades.
- In your 20s and 30s, stress might be quite high. Careers are being built. Women might be going through years of pregnancy and postpartum. Not-so-great habits of a social smoke or pre-vacation tanning bed might still be regular occurrences. You aren’t worried about your hair yet … but prevention is key (more on that in a moment).
- In your 40s and 50s, the number of melanocytes available to repigment a strand lessens. This is actually a time when many women experience their thickest hair, as an interesting side effect of perimenopause and menopause. However, men may continue to see a decrease and all of us will see greater signs of graying.
- In your 60s, 70s, and beyond, gray hair becomes a reality for most everyone. There is also a marked decrease in the amount of hair follicles altogether, for men and women.
Create New Habits to Support Lifelong Hair Health
So why do we want to understand how hair ages in the first place? It seems this is a natural part of life, right? Eh, yes and no.
We don’t know about you, but we’ve spotted an older women with thick, gorgeous, silvery waves and been entirely in awe. Aging is natural, but it can be graceful too.
Building good habits, like managing stress and eating well, is certainly key. But another secret, as we like to say, is science. It can help you understand how hair ages, but it has also made it possible for innovative supplements and solutions to pave a new future in hair care.
We would know. Our DeeplyRooted system is designed to support healthy hair from your 20s to your 90s.
With the perfect combination of ingredients—KSM-66® Ashwagandha Root Extract to fight stress and Horsetail Whole Extract to stimulate collagen, for example—our DeeplyRooted Supplement enables you to nourish your hair from the inside out. In clinical studies, 91% of subjects reported improved overall hair growth. Our key ingredients help to block the root causes of hair thinning and hair loss.
Pair the supplement with our DeeplyRooted Hair Serum, which was found to produce a 78% increase in hair growth in just 3 months in a third-party clinical study.