The Life Cycle of Hair
At birth, everyone has between 100,000-150,000 hair follicles, and each of these follicles goes through a three-part life cycle. According to Noelle Strong, the Head of Education for Kérastase, in the first phase, the hair grows out and the bulb at the root is at its plumpest. Next, the bulb shrinks before falling out, which leads to the third phase of dormancy. As we age, the final phase lasts longer—hence the number one complaint as people get older: thinning hair. Stylist Jenevieve Perry says that hair also has a tendency to lose its softness, shine, and pigment over time.
Genetic factors and hormonal changes can accelerate hair loss, says Andre Puleo, Technical Brand Manager of Research and Development for Nexxus. To make matters worse, external lifestyle factors such as stress and excessive styling contribute to age-related hair thinning. Another overlooked factor: water intake. “You hair is part of your body’s metabolic system,” Strong explains, “so it’s crucial to drink lots of water to hydrate the bulbs of your hair.” And don’t forget to watch what you eat. “Dietary deficiencies such as low iron, vitamin B12, or zinc levels can lead to hair loss,” warns trichologist Liz Cunnane Phillips of Philip Kingsley.
Ways to Fight Back
It’s not all doom and gloom. New antiaging haircare products use some of the same ingredients found in facial serums and moisturizers to help hair stay healthy longer. Hyaluronic acid in Kérastase Age Premium Masque Substantif, for example, ebalances moisture levels, while omega acids and argan oil in Nexxus Youth Rejuvenating Elixir boost follicle strength, and iron in Philip Kingsley’s Stimulating Scalp Mask helps maintain a healthy oxygen supply to the scalp.
Another option: Make the most of what you’ve got. Rather than choosing a layered cut, Perry suggests sticking with hair that’s close to one length. “A strong line with just a hint of gradation always gives the illusion of fuller, thicker hair,” she explains. And remember: Age is but a number.