How to Look After Mature Hair

We’re all regularly told how to keep our skin looking younger or how best to stay physically fit as we get older, but one thing that’s rarely talked about is mature hair care. Here at Rush, we firmly believe that age really is just a number; whether you’re in your 30s or your 70s, you should still live each day looking and feeling fabulous. That’s why we’re revealing our expert hair care tips for ageing hair; with some proper TLC you can enjoy gorgeous-looking locks at every stage of your life.

What Are the Effects of Ageing on Hair?

It’s inevitable that our hair will turn grey – and eventually white – as we get older. This is because our hair follicles make less melanin (the pigment responsible for our hair colour) as we age. It’s usual for people to start going grey in their 30s, though this can vary from person to person. For most people, a trip to their colourist will sort this out, but it’s worth remembering that grey hair takes colour differently to pigmented hair; talk to your stylist before hitting the bottle!

Grey hair is prone to become drier than pigmented hair too, because oil glands produce less sebum when you’re older; without the aid of these moisturising natural oils, hair can feel drier and more roughly-textured – it’s why mature hair can seem coarser or a little wiry.

Regardless of its texture, hair is likely to start thinning with age. There could be a number of reasons for this; genetics, vitamin deficiencies, stress, hormonal changes or thyroid hormone changes are all potential culprits. If you’re particularly worried about the amount of hair that you seem to be losing, it’s worth visiting your GP or a dermatologist to rule out any underlying health issues.

Hair shedding does increase as we get older, though the way that the hair grows also changes. Research has shown that from the age of about 40, a woman’s hair starts to grow in finer (and more  slowly), so it’ll feel thinner and less voluminous than it did in her 20s, for example. This is down to the fact that the hair grows in bundles of 4, with a growth cycle spanning approximately 7 years; for every cycle, the number of bundles decreases by 1. There are ways that you can add volume and texture to fine hair though, whatever your age.

How to Care for Mature Hair

Whilst the effects of ageing may be natural, there are a few things you can do to ensure that your hair stays healthy as you get older.

Eat Well

As the old saying goes: you are what you eat. And when it comes to keeping your hair healthy – as well as your skin and nails – eating a healthy, balanced diet is crucial. Aside from the obvious (fruit, vegetables and lots of water), it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough protein from your diet. Keratin (a type of protein) is a basic component of your hair, skin and nails, yet several studies have shown that older people regularly consume less than the daily recommended amount of protein (which stands at 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight). This amounts to 56 grams per day for the average man, and 46 grams per day for the average woman.

Get the Right Cut

The right cut can work wonders on your hair’s overall appearance. Not only do you need to find the right hairstyle to suit your face shape, but as you mature, getting a cut that doesn’t age you is key.

If your hair is thinning, avoid getting layers cut in as this will only make your hair look thinner. Shorter styles are especially flattering on mature hair, since they can help to create the illusion of fullness. Helen Mirren’s bob haircut, for example, works so well because it looks voluminous and healthy. By adding soft, face-framing layers and wearing her hair naturally textured, there’s movement there too. Avoid stiff, set styles that are over-worked; they have the potential to add years.

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Jamie Lee Curtis’ pixie proves just how versatile this cut can be at any age. By keeping her hair short, Jamie Lee looks stylish, edgy and youthful; her hairstyle is age-appropriate but not ageing. What’s more, her natural grey colour actually offsets the cut beautifully. It’s about as far removed from a perm and set as you can get, and we love it!

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Think About Your Products

As you get older, you should expect to change your hair care routine. There are plenty of anti-ageing products on the market that are designed to increase volume, shine and softness, and restore hair health. Most of them are enriched with protein (because yes, it really is that important) and elasto-lipids to maintain the hair’s health and elasticity.

One of the ways that you can maintain healthy hair at any age is by being aware what’s in your styling products. Alcohol, a common ingredient in many styling products, can seriously strip the hair of moisture. Sulfates are another ingredient known to have a drying effect on the hair and scalp. Given that mature hair is already prone to dehydration, it’s worth checking the ingredients of something before slathering it on your hair. To add volume, and to cleanse your hair without stripping it of moisture, use a sulfate-free volumizing shampoo and conditioner (but avoid washing it every day).

As you get older, you ought to be using products that protect, restore and hydrate the hair. Another key thing to remember, is that grey hair is more vulnerable to sun damage because it lacks melanin – a protective pigment in the skin and hair. If you’ve got grey hair, choose products containing SPF protection; a lightweight finishing spray will protect thinning or fine hair without weighing it down.

Avoid Harsh Styling Treatments (and Style with Care!)

Whilst it’s always fun to experiment with different hairstyles, you should be more wary of any harsh chemical treatments or the excessive use of hot styling tools as you get older. Mature hair, which is already weakened, will almost certainly suffer after being bleached, for example, so it’s best to chemically process older hair as infrequently as possible – if at all.

Even if you’ve never laid hands on a chemical treatment, your everyday styling could still be causing some damage. First things first: loosen your rollers, ponytails and braids. Anything that pulls at your roots is wont to cause breakage; in the long-term, this kind of damage can actually destroy the roots and hinder hair growth. Instead, add natural-looking volume with a spritz of volumizing spray; it’ll create the illusion of fullness without making your ‘do look overworked or stiff (remember what we said about Dame Helen?).

Finally, turn down the heat! Hair dryers, straighteners and curling irons are the everyday styling tools that our hair certainly doesn’t thank us for; dullness, dryness, flyaways and frizz are all made worse by excessive heat styling. And whilst it’s nigh-on impossible not to use at least one hot styling tool on occasion, you can limit the damage caused by applying a heat protectant spray.

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