Despite what you’ve heard, there is no rule that says you can’t have long hair over 40! At any age, long hair requires proper care to maintain the health of your strands. Your aging hair is more prone to breakage and thinning out, so you may have to work a little harder for long hair. Read on to discover tips for maintaining long, healthy and shiny hair in your 40’s and beyond.
Hair Changes in Your 40’s+
It is only natural for your hair to change as you age. Thickness, texture, and appearance differences may become apparent, and this is mainly due to hormonal changes during menopause. Once menopause starts, your estrogen levels drop and levels of testosterone increase. When testosterone comes into contact with the enzymes in your scalp and skin it produces dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which damages and shrinks your hair follicles. To read more on the science behind menopausal hair changes, read this Better Not Younger blog article.
Best Tips for Healthy Long Hair Over 40
1. Protect your Hair while Sleeping
A silk or satin pillowcase with some slip allows you to extend your hairstyle overnight to minimize heat styling in the morning. Additionally, a cotton pillowcase can cause harsh friction and absorb your hair’s moisture, leading to frizzy and tangled hair. Lastly, consider wearing your hair in a loose bun or braid to minimize damage during your sleep.
2. Routine Dustings
A routine dusting is a grooming practice to maintain the integrity of your ends in between trims. A dusting will not take any length off of your hair, rather it will remove your split ends to enable more efficient growth.
3. Long Layers
When you are trying new lengths and shapes, it’s important to consider your face shape and lifestyle. Long layers create a face-framing effect and thin out towards the ends falling around your cheeks and shoulders. Long layers will grow out nicely, add texture and create the illusion of longer hair. Layers will add volume and dimension to your longer hair.
4. Be Gentle
To promote growth and minimize breakage, choose gentle hair accessories. Instead of using plastic elastics, opt for fabric-wrapped hair ties. Additionally, a soft-bristle brush, made from natural materials, stimulates hair strength and growth. A boar-bristle brush triggers natural oil production in the scalp and reduces frizz. Also, relieve your scalp by loosening up tight-hairstyles! Hairstyles that cause tension in your scalp include high and tightly wound buns, cornrows, and anything that pulls hair from your crown. Instead, try a low-bun with your front pieces falling or a loose ponytail.
5. Nutrient-Rich Diet
Take care of your hair from the inside out! The food you consume plays an important part in your hair health. A nutritional imbalance can lead to hair loss. Your hair cells need a balance of nutrients and minerals to function at their highest level. More specifically, a diet rich in protein, biotin, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and B vitamins will be beneficial in strengthening your hair to grow healthy and long.
Implement the following nutrients into your diet to support your long hair:
- Protein: lean meats, tofu, low-fat cheese, and quinoa
- Biotin: lentils, carrots, walnuts, and cauliflower
- Iron: lean beef, soybeans, eggs, tuna and spinach
- Omega-3: salmon, sea bass, flax seeds, soybeans, and canola oil
- Zinc: shellfish, sunflower seeds, beef, lamb, and pine nuts
- B Vitamins: pork, beans, oatmeal, and low-fat dairy foods
6. Cool it on the Hot Tools
To avoid dry, brittle ends it’s best to keep your hot tool styling to a minimum. Your hair contains keratin proteins and hydrogen bonds. When you use heat styling tools, like curling wands, flat irons, or blow dryers, they strip your hair of its natural oils and proteins by breaking down its hydrogen bonds. With that being said, it would be difficult to give up hot tools for good. It is essential to use a heat protectant aid because it will act as a barrier between the hot tool and your delicate hair.
Similarly, to any hot tool, excessive sun exposure will contribute to hair damage. UVA and UVB rays can damage the outside strand of the hair (cuticle). Sun damage can cause discoloration, dry strands, thinning and friziness. It is necessary to keep your strands hydrated to grow long and healthy hair, so protect yourself against sun damage.
7. Scalp Care
Healthy hair starts with the scalp! A healthy environment will enable your hair to grow in strong enough to support a longer length. Scalp skin is similar to normal skin in that it has an epidermis and dermis, but also has a higher concentration of large, terminal hair follicles. Scalp damage results from excessive sun exposure, hair care products and treatments, and nutritional imbalances.
To efficiently care for your scalp, use products with gentle ingredients and appropriate pH levels. Also, a scalp serum is a beneficial way to repair damage, increase growth and shine, and protect against environmental damage. If your scalp is prone to dryness, a serum will gently remove excess buildup, while providing more hydration. Find a serum that includes soothing ingredients like tea tree oil or coconut oil. A serum for an oily scalp will correct imbalances and soothe inflammation of the hair follicle, which manages oil production. Look for beneficial ingredients like apple cider vinegar and ginger oil in a serum.