Certain unhealthy habits might be what’s affecting your hair’s thickness. While there may not be a way to change your genetics, there are ways to preserve your hair’s integrity.
What causes hair loss?
Understanding the reasons behind your hair loss might be more important than you think. Knowing what causes hair loss in the elderly can also teach you how to prevent hair loss in old age. Instead of spending money on products that may or may not work, educate yourself on your hair type — and hair in general.
You need to have healthy follicles to have healthy hair. Ensuring proper scalp health is a great way of taking care of yourself. Without cleansing your scalp, it could harbor buildup from several products — including silicone-based ones, which can inhibit your hair’s growth.
There are two types of hair you should know about:
- Vellus Hair: Short, downy hairs that appear on “hairless” parts of the body
- Terminal Hair: Long, pigmented hair you see on your head and other parts of your body
When you want to understand what causes hair loss in older women or men, you’re likely thinking of terminal hair. However, body hair loss with age does happen as well. Women may notice their facial hair becomes coarser with age, while men may grow more hair in their ears and noses. Sudden hair loss shouldn’t happen, though — it should gradually change over time.
Sudden hair loss shouldn’t happen, though — it should gradually change over time.
One way to protect your hair from extra damage is to pay attention to how you style it or what treatments you use. Some hair treatments introduce chemicals that stress out your hair, causing damage to follicles that may last a lifetime.
Styles like tight ponytails or buns can tug on your hairline and cause it to recede over time. Sometimes, wearing hairstyles that are too tight can result in a form of alopecia created by pulling the hair.
While you can adjust your lifestyle, you can’t change your genetics. The baldness gene is on the “X” chromosome, meaning everyone has a chance to lose hair as they age. Some people have a mutation on their KITLG — or kit ligand — gene. This gene manages hair growth throughout puberty, but the mutation is what leads to apparent baldness in men and women as they age.
However, this gene isn’t the only one that causes baldness — about five other genes on the “X” chromosome can influence it. You won’t be able to defeat your genetics, but you may be able to work with what you have to ensure a more favorable outcome. It might be better to look at how you can prevent any extra damage to your hair follicles and preserve the health of your current hair.
Aging hair loss and treatment: 6 tips
Hair loss in elderly women and men can be attributed to several things. Fortunately, you can make a few lifestyle changes that might lead to less hair loss as you age. These techniques could help you love your hair in all its stages, regardless of age or how dense it is.
1. Wash your hair less
As you age, you may notice you take fewer showers than you used to. Keeping up with your basic hygiene is essential no matter how old you are, but you might not need to wash your hair as often.
Doing so can cause brittle follicles and dryness, which you can avoid by bringing your wash routine down to around twice a week. Some people like how their hair looks and feels when washing around five or more times per week, but you should choose what’s best for your hair’s health.
If you’re active — as you should be to release endorphins that boost your mood or keep your muscles engaged to support you — you may notice your hair grows better when you wash it more often. Bathing cleanses the pores of oil and dirt, allowing your follicles to grow more freely. Your hair will also thank you for finding products that suit its health.
2. Style without heat
While you may think you must rely on heat to style your hair properly, the opposite is true. Heat can damage your hair — especially if you aren’t using a protectant. Instead of using hot tools to curl or straighten your hair, think of other ways to style it. For example, putting your hair in a loose hairstyle with a claw clip can be better than putting it in a ponytail or using heat to hold it a certain way.
You can use heatless methods like overnight curlers to add twists to your hair without damaging it with heat. However, handling your hair while wet may also make it more prone to breakage. Try forming curls overnight and using minimal products in the morning to keep them strong throughout the day.
3. Avoid products with hormone disruptors
Some products use chemicals like parabens and phthalates that disrupt the balance of your hormones. While your environment might affect your health more than a product, you should still research to ensure you’re using the right things for your hair.
Estrogen is one of the main hormones that affect hair — if your balance is disrupted, it may decrease hair everywhere. Consult your doctor if you think you might have a hormone imbalance, as too much or too little of a hormone can leave you feeling weak or harm your body in other ways.
4. Change your diet
You might eat smaller portions than you used to, but make sure you eat enough. Too little food will leave your hair less healthy than it should be. Focus on eating enough protein — your hair is made almost entirely of it and could only benefit from adding more to your diet.
If you aren’t fond of red meat, a few other things can supplement the nutrients in your diet. Leafy greens like spinach have a lot of iron and vitamin A, which can help strengthen your hair. Fish like salmon have omega-3 fatty acids that can make your hair look softer and silkier, as well as promote hair growth. Plant-based protein like beans has just about 4g less protein than the same amount of animal-based protein. Try to find a way to fit protein into your lifestyle.
5. Check your medications
You should talk to your doctor if you think your medications interfere with your hair health. Some may have side effects of hair loss or thinning, so it could be worth asking a professional if you could find a substitute without the drawbacks. Even if you can’t change your medications, you may be able to change a part of your lifestyle to make up for the hair loss.
Hair loss is a rare side effect for most medications, but you can’t rule it out — especially if baldness typically doesn’t run in your family. If your hair grows thinner from your medicine, you can combat it by using the right products, and following a hair care routine that fits your lifestyle and hair type.
6. Consult a stylist on the best products for your hair
Your hairstylist will be able to analyze your hair type, whether you’ve used chemicals or color, and a few other things to decide what’s best for you. They can point you to a few products that would improve the quality and health of your hair — especially if you’ve gone to them for a while. It might take a bit to see some results, but you’ll feel a difference in your hair when utilizing the items your stylist or doctor recommends.
7. Decrease your stress
While it’s often easier said than done, decreasing your stress can help you avoid excess hair loss. Pressure works in several detrimental ways, so checking in with yourself is essential. If possible, try to cut what causes the stress out of your life.
If a friend or family member causes you unnecessary grief whenever you see them, it might be best to limit or reduce your exposure to them until you can handle the relationship without it causing you unwanted stress. Similarly, if you can’t keep up with a hobby or other activity and it only causes you frustration, try to scale back and find something fun to replace it with.
Similarly, if you find money troubles to be your biggest issue, see what you can do to expand your budget or narrow some of your expenses. Targeting stress can be difficult, but eliminating it is so worth it. You’ll see some physiological benefits as well.
How to almost reverse hair aging
Your hair will change over time due to external or internal factors. How you wear your hair and what products you use in it can affect your hair’s strength. Similarly, changing your lifestyle and routines — like washing your hair less or more often, and eating more protein — are easy ways to transform how your hair looks.
You will 100% see your hair change with age and might even experience hair loss. Try to stay hopeful and remember to rely on professionals to ensure you’re doing the best you possibly can for your scalp’s health.
Mia Barnes is a writer and researcher with over 3 years of experience covering nutrition, wellness, and health-related topics. Mia is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Body+Mind Magazine, an online healthy living publication.