Does My Hair Look Old?
Skin isn't the only body part to show your age. As anti-agers segue into hair care, we investigate whether they can rewind the clock for your locks.
Now that you’ve doused it with chlorine and salty seawater all summer, your hair might be looking a little tired, worn and, yes, older.
“Hair ages in a number of ways. There’s a gradual decrease in sebum production, so hair gets drier and more prone to breakage,” says Manhattan dermatologist Francesca Fusco. “And the hair follicle actually gets smaller in size, it’s called miniaturization, so the diameter of the hair fiber shrinks.” This means your hair, quite literally, isn’t as thick. With fewer active follicles over time, you can also end up with fewer strands overall.
These fun facts are examples of intrinsic aging, the kind that’s going on under the surface—and unbeknownst to you—until you see it in the mirror, or on your comb. The extrinsic (outward) aging that comes along with too much surfing or styling adds fuel to the fire.
“The heat from blow dryers and the curling irons that create beachy waves are hotter than ever and I’m seeing patients come in with more damage than ever before,” says Fusco. “The hair starts to splinter mid-shaft. Under a microscope it looks like two paintbrushes colliding.”
The good news: Peptides, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids have earned serious cred in the skincare arena and they can also help you maintain younger hair. Just as these types of nutrients benefit you if taken internally, in this case, they feed the scalp, says Fusco. “Antioxidants help neutralize oxidizing free radicals, peptides are made up of amino acids—the building blocks of protein—which hair is made up of, and EFAs become part of the cell membrane and ultimately help nourish the scalp for healthier hair.”
Fusco’s tips for younger hair, inside and out: Eat enough protein, don’t yoyo diet, take a “hair holiday” by skipping heat styling once or twice a week, and work some anti-aging products into your routine. Here, a few to try:
Nexxus Youth Renewal Rejuvenating Elixir
Nexxus creative director Kevin Mancuso joined forces with a skincare scientist to formulate this serum to fight volume loss, breakage, and more. In addition to argan oil and protein, it’s got anti-aging ubiquinone (a.k.a. Co-Q10), which helps create ATP, a key energy source for your cells—scalp cells included.FIND IT
Joico Color Endure Sulfate-free Shampoo with Bio-Advanced Peptide Complex
Not only does this cleanser keep your color vibrant, it contains 3 types of peptides, moisturizing glycerin, and panthenol to help strengthen and plump hair fibers.FIND IT
Ouidad Curl Recovery MeltDown Extreme Repair Mask
A rich cream that will remedy your inevitable heat-styling habit even if your hair is straight. What it’s packed with: Amino acids, Mafura Butter, panthenol, and enough antioxidant-rich “foodie” nutrients to make it seem edible—avcocado, acai, watermelon, and radish seed oil.FIND IT
Pantene Ultimate 10 BB Crème
Sadly, hair years rival dog years. If yours floats past your shoulders, it’s already 4 years old. Pantene’s new do-it-all BB for hair treats as it camouflages surface imperfections just like a skincare BB. It’s even got crossover ingredients like niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3 also found in parent company Procter & Gamble’s Olay products) to moisturize, smooth, and reinforce.FIND IT
L’Oreal Serie Expert Cristalceutic Radiance Protecting Treatment
The melanin in your hair gradually ages too, causing greying as it fades. So if you’re coloring to compensate, or just to be a redhead, this intensive new in-salon-and-take-home treatment will help mediate extrinsic damage by knitting split ends back together and cutting down on coloring visits. “It deep conditions and crystallizes around the color molecules in the hair so your color lasts longer,” says hair colorist Johnathan Gale who applies it post-color at LA’s Byron Williams Salon.FIND IT
Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Overnight Hair Rescue
Pros like Mancuso recommend thinking of hair care like skincare—create a regimen. Make this your hair’s stand-in for night cream. With EFA-rich caviar, vitamins, peptides, and Superoxide Dismutase (an enzyme that helps reduce cellular damage), it works all the angles to turn back time.FIND IT
Christophe Robin Cleansing Purifying Scrub with Sea Salt
Ocean salt lends your hair surfer cool even if you’re not so nimble on a board, but it can also take a toll on it. Focus this mineral-rich salt on your scalp instead and gently buff away oil and dead-cell build up once a week. Bonus: Revving up circulation feeds follicles.FIND IT
Photography by Ben Watts/ Trunk Archive