One of the latest trends in haircare is for products to prevent hair ageing, but what exactly is hair ageing and are there really effective methods of prevention?
What is hair ageing and when does it start for men and for women?
Rali: There are some changes that can happen with the hair as we age, however, some of these changes are sometimes seen with young adult patients, too. The scalp can also change with age. For example, the skin may become dryer and the sebaceous glands may produce less sebum, which can also make the hair appear drier.
Weathering of the hair is very common. This is when the cuticle layer weakens towards the distal end of the hair (the tip) – some cuticle scales may be completely destroyed. This leaves the hair drier, more porous and easily prone to breakage. The more we are exposed to such factors – something which is largely unavoidable as time goes by – the more weathering we can see if we don’t look after our hair.
This type of ‘hair ageing’ can happen to anyone depending on their lifestyle but it is more of a problem for adults, not really for children. It happens due to hair styling and heat or chemical processing, weather changes such as it being too cold or too hot, as well as excessive or prolonged sun exposure. Additionally, oxidative stress from environmental factors such as smoking, pollution, and again – UV light (sunlight) can cause hair ageing by weathering the hair.
As we age our hair pigmentation can change too, although the exact age when this process starts depends on each individual’s genetics, which is why there are many young adults with partially – or fully – grey hair. Naturally as we get older our hair pigment can gradually diminish as the melanocytes’ function decreases – melanocytes being the cells responsible for our colouring (skin, eyes, hair, etc).
Though we can disguise greying hair with dyes, which can make us – and our hair – appear more youthful – this type of manipulation and chemical processing of the hair can contribute to decreasing hair quality.
There are controversial opinions about something called senescent alopecia in various reputable medical books and journals. It is believed that this presents as diffuse loss of hair density all over the scalp as we age. However, there are also reports that this happens due to androgen sensitive follicles and therefore it is part of androgenic alopecia – the genetic hair loss condition perhaps more widely known as Male Pattern Baldness and, for women, Female Pattern Hair Loss.
Additionally, there are certain medical conditions and dietary deficiencies that are more common with older or elderly patients which can lead to hairloss conditions such as Telogen Effluvium. For example, the use of blood thinning medication may trigger Chronic Telogen Effluvium, resulting in thinning hair all over the scalp.
Can hair care products really prevent or reverse signs of hair ageing?
Rali: Hair care products cannot prevent hair ageing or hair loss, but they can certainly help to keep the hair in a better condition. For example, using conditioner on the ends of longer hair can aid detangling without breaking the hair, whilst moisturising shampoos can help maintain healthier scalp and avoid dryness.
Thinning hair can particularly benefit from daily washing with an appropriate, gentle shampoo suitable for every day use, as clean hair tends to look fuller. However, we would always recommend being wary of hair care products, especially shampoos for thinning hair, that say they can treat or prevent hair loss as this is considered a medicinal reference and not a permitted claim cosmetic products are able to make in the UK.
Are there any other ways of preventing hair ageing?
Rali: Avoiding some products, such as chemical treatments eg. perms, bleach and relaxers, will also help with preventing hair ageing via damage and breakage, as well as maintaining healthier hair. Furthermore, food supplements can support normal hair growth in addition to a healthy diet and in some cases can be used to treat severe nutritional deficiencies (in which case these will be prescription based supplements). I recommend Belgravia’s exclusive one-a-day hair supplement, Hair Vitalics for Men and Hair Vitalics for Women, to be taken in addition to a balanced diet, as they contain a highly-targeted blend of key vitamins, minerals, amino acids and botanical extracts, including biotin, selenium and zinc to support healthy skin and hair growth.
Does hair ageing cause hair loss or thinning hair?
Rali: Male and Female Pattern Baldness are often considered as ‘hair ageing’ by those affected. However, these hereditary hair loss conditions present where there is an active genetic predisposition and can start any time following puberty – so from young age including the late teens, not just in older adults.
Genetic hair loss involves susceptible follicles – those along the top of the scalp, from hairline to crown and vertex areas – becoming gradually smaller over time, producing increasingly weaker, thinning hair. It is a gradual process of hair thinning and hair loss – also known as follicular miniaturisation – so, as the years go by, this permanent, progressive condition will generally worsen. Many men and women notice poor hair quality in these affected areas as it may become dry and brittle. Hair density can also decrease as the follicles grow fewer hair strands per follicle unit.
In men it tends to take the appearance of more defined areas the scalp becoming visibly sparser, such as a receding hairline or a thinning crown, whereas in women it is generally more diffuse across the entire top of the scalp and at the temples.
Women may notice signs such as their parting becoming increasingly wider, though there are many cases of women noticing Female Pattern Hair Loss for the first time after menopause. This can be due to the associated hormonal changes and reduced production of female hormones, particularly oestrogen. Lower oestrogen levels can also contribute to a decrease in skin quality, including dryness, thinner skin (atrophy), poor elasticity and slower wound healing, which can affect the scalp.
Whatever the signs, anyone concerned by thinning hair, a drop in volume, sudden or excessive hair loss should consult a specialist so they can receive a personalised diagnosis. There are clinically-proven hair loss treatments available for men and women, with various additional hair growth supporting products also available which can also be used in tandem, based on the recommendation of hair specialists and taking into account patients’ medical and lifestyle requirements.
The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.