How hair changes as we age

— by Alyson Walsh

Photo: Claire Pepper

Everything changes as we get older. Now that it’s au naturel and not dyed blonde, the texture of my hair is softer, more flyaway and demands a bit more attention. And while I have chosen this route and am continually banging on about grey hair – if you are committed to colour, then that’s fine, too. Each to their own.

There’s a section on hair – both grey and coloured – in my first book Style Forever. I interviewed the international hair colourist Josh Wood whose advice on looking after older hair was, ‘There’s a lot of work to keep hair looking supple and shiny and in a decent condition. But it’s worth it. ‘ With this in mind, I’ve been experimenting with different shampoos and conditioners in an attempt to find what’s best for my new greyish hair. One thing I’ve been trying to do is to avoid shampoos containing sulphates and silicon. I do use purple shampoos from time to time but my hair is not entirely grey, there are warm and cool Scandi tones to consider. Wood also recommended trimming hair regularly and applying a weekly conditioning treatment, but I’m trying to wash my hair less, so…

A bit on the expensive side but Living Proof Full Shampoo and conditioner leaves hair feeling more voluminous and smells wonderful. I’m a big fan. San Ceuticals is a chemical-free beauty range from New Zealand, Davines is an effective and ethical Italian beauty brand and 100 Acres Apothecary is based in the Cotswolds. Styling products I know and love, include: John Frieda’s Luxurious Volume range, Aveda’s Texture Tonic or Pure Abundance Style Prep and Bumble and Bumble’s thickening spray. These all add oomph. Generally, my haircare regime involves wrapping hair in a superior hair towel while I get on with my ablutions. Once unwrapped, I tend to leave hair till it’s nearly dry, smooth a small dollop of Colour Wow’s Kale Cocktail Bionic Tonic through with my hands and give it a quick two-minute, upside-down blow dry. As my hair feels flatter these days I occasionally use a root lift product (John Freida, Colour Wow and Living Proof all sell these) or a quick squirt of dry shampoo (this has the added benefit of brightening my Mallen Streak) and a small swoosh of Moroccan Oil on the ends to finish.

Post-menopause, some women suffer from thinning hair. I asked my friend the beauty writer Vicci Bentley for her advice on this:

‘So, briefly what happens with androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is that due to heredity and hormone decline post-menopause, women start to notice that their hair thins all over, but especially around the crown/parting where the scalp shows through. Hair literally loses weight. This is caused by shrinking follicles which means the hair’s growth phase may shorten with each cycle (growth/resting/shedding) and eventually stop altogether. It is estimated that one-in-four post-menopausal women suffer from AGA. So it’s a double whammy, sod it!

The only thing proven to help female pattern baldness is the ingredient minoxidil. What minoxidil does is increase blood flow to the scalp and follicles, stimulating growth. Some products claim to reverse the shrinking process, so long as the follicles are still active – but this will take around 12 weeks before you notice a difference.  I think it holds AGA back just a little. It’s best to start using a product as soon as you notice thinning; Regaine do a foam that can be used daily. Otherwise, styling helps. Going short  and preferably layered can help to ease the drag on the follicles and hide the scalp. It’s also easier to zshoosh up shorter hair with temporary thickening sprays. l like Swell and Bumble & Bumble. But don’t over blow-dry or tug. Colourwise, hair that’s a similar colour to the scalp minimises contrast.’


Both the NHS website and Women’s Health Concern have some useful hair loss tips.


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Everything changes as we get older. Now that it’s au naturel and not dyed blonde, the texture of my hair is softer, more flyaway and demands a bit more attention.