Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Some excellent tips as reported in Senior Living magazine.

Like an unpredictable beast, grey hair and hair loss can attack at any time and at any speed. Grey hair has been known to start springing up even on 25-year-old heads. Genetics play a large part in how people age and it is common to follow in parents’ footsteps, especially in terms of how hair will be affected. Hormones, vitamin deficiencies, illness, skin conditions and medications are factors that can speed up and catalyze this process. And just as it affects one’s body, stress is a major contributor to hair breakage, loss, greying and scalp conditions.

With little or no proven method of treatment, greying and loss of hair can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. It affects self-esteem and causes anxiety more than any other symptom of aging. Finding those first grey hairs or looking in the mirror and seeing a full head of grey hair might, initially, make people feel down, but worn well, grey hair can impart a sense of dignity, wisdom and beauty. So, instead of trying to reverse the aging process, focus on maintaining, repairing and preventing any further hair damage to ensure a graceful and anxiety-free journey into the golden years.

Here are some quick tips on how to start implementing a healthy hair regimen: 

ALWAYS MOISTURIZE – As with skincare, moisturizing hair is essential to making sure it stays healthy and strong. Aging hair becomes thinner, finer and more fragile.

MASSAGE THE SCALP – Massaging or brushing the scalp boosts circulation, which will stimulate hair follicles. Increased blood circulation will bring nutrients to the scalp, helping increase growth.

SHOWERING – Taking cool showers will not only prevent hair from drying but will also close the cuticles to prevent damage. Also, be careful of over-washing the hair, which removes natural oils that are essential to keeping hair in good shape. Only wash hair every other day. Avoid brushing hair when it is wet as it is at its most fragile.

HAIR PRODUCTS – Stay away from shampoos and hair products that contain harmful chemicals like “sodium lauryl sulphate.” They cause damage to the hair and can be toxic to the body. Ask a pharmacist or dermatologist what products are the best to use. Paying more for a product or trusting in familiar brand names does not ensure it is safe. Explore the option of natural products, including organic. Hair gels or other styling products should be rinsed out before bed. Sticky hairsprays, mousses and gels can work their way to the scalp and clog pores during the night. 

SHAMPOO – For thinning hair, use a shampoo and conditioner duo that adds volume. Volumizing shampoos usually contain ingredients like protein that will coat the hair, covering it with a protective shield and make it appear fuller. Although moisturizing is essential, avoid “intensive” conditioners as they weigh down hair and make it look limp and flat. Avoid applying conditioner on the scalp; only apply to ends. Using conditioner on the entire head will weigh down the hair and make it look greasy.

STYLING – Too much styling can damage hair, but that doesn’t mean glamour is out. The trick is to be aware of how to treat the hair so damage can be counteracted before it becomes permanent. When styling, try to avoid blow-drying hair when it is soaking wet. Let it dry naturally by squeezing out the water and lightly blotting it with a towel first. Styling long hair too tightly in ponytails, buns or with curlers will also put strain on the scalp, gradually training hair to grow nearer to the surface, which may eventually cause it to lose its hold and fall out.

DIET – Diet and lifestyle have a large impact on hair health. Try increasing the intake of protein-rich foods like eggs, soy, beans and meat. Foods that are rich in iron, vitamin A and B, and minerals are also great to ensure hair is getting all the nutrients it needs. Smoking promotes both hair loss and grey hair. Learning to age gracefully is an art, and hair is like the picture frame to one’s beauty. Working with, rather than against, the body’s natural maturing process is the key to keeping the mind, body – and hair – beautiful.

Article by Steffany Gundling, Reprinted with Permission from Senior Living Magazine, www.seniorlivingmag.com

Matt Del Vecchio is a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging (CPCA).  He is the founder and president of Lianas - a company specializing in retirement residence search and senior transition support.

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