What happens to hair as it ages?
As hair ages, it eventually loses the ability to produce color, and greying begins. Grey hair has less elasticity, so it's more prone to breakage. The scalp becomes drier from the decreased production of sebum, so hair becomes drier and more prone to damage. Hair loss/thinning is yet another result of aging. These changes usually occur over a period of time, and everyone experiences them at a different rate. Genes also play a big part in how our hair ages. So, in general, you will see some combination of grey hairs, dryness, dullness/lack of shine, breakage/split ends, and thinning.
Do anti-aging hair products reverse or stop the aging process of hair?
I'm not an expert, but I'm pretty sure there isn't anything that can reverse or stop the aging process of hair. Eventually, we're going to get grey hair because the cells that produce the pigment for our hair color stop working. It's a fact of life. Our genes might make us turn grey in our 30's or in our 60's, but it's coming. I didn't start noticing greys until I hit 50, so I feel like I was pretty lucky, but one of my great-grandmothers was 70 when she died, and her hair was still black except for a streak of grey in the front.
So what exactly is an anti-aging hair product?
Most anti-aging shampoos and conditioners are just really good hydrating/moisturizing products. As I mentioned above, aging hair becomes drier and more prone to damage. If you factor in color treatments to cover the grey and heat from styling tools, you get even more dryness/damage. So "mature" hair needs products that provide a truckload of moisture without weighing it down and making it look limp or greasy.
Couldn't I just use moisturizing hair products?
You could try those, certainly. For me, they weren't enough. I was using Living Proof® Restore shampoo and conditioner, and I was very happy with it until it seemed my hair changed and needed even more moisture. In the photo above, you can see that my hair is looking dry and has lost a lot of the shine. Overall, it was still pretty healthy - I didn't have breakage - it was just starting to look dull and be difficult to style. I only shampoo about every 4th day, only use the flat iron if I'm leaving the house, and I hadn't changed my highlight schedule, so the dryness had to be from changes in the hair itself. The switch to Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Moisture Replenishing shampoo and conditioner made a big difference. I also plan to start using a hair mask once a week. The photo below was taken after I started using the Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging products. It isn't a great photo (I still haven't mastered the "in the mirror selfie", especially from the back - and my hair has static from pulling it through the hat), but I still think you can see the difference in the the texture of my hair - and that it also looks shiny now.
So if anti-aging hair products don't stop my hair from aging, and moisturizing products might work, do I really need to use anti-aging hair products?
Maybe, maybe not. Nice answer, right? At some point you will most likely find that you need hair products that provide a lot of hydration. It's just a matter of finding which ones work best for your hair. Maybe the ones labeled "anti-aging" have the moisturizing ingredients listed higher, meaning there are more of them in the product. If your hair is really dry, that might be exactly what you need. So yes, you need anti-aging hair products. For someone with less dry hair, too many moisturizing ingredients might leave them with hair that feels heavy, greasy, and difficult to style. So regular moisturizing products will probably be enough, and no, you won't need anti-aging hair products. Perhaps one brand might have their anti-aging hair products priced much higher than their regular hydrating products, yet when comparing the ingredients, there isn't much difference. I would try the hydrating ones first - they may be all you need, and you can save some money. Luckily, most products offer samples or travel sizes so you can try them without investing a lot in products that may not suit your needs.
Is there anything else I can do to keep my hair in good condition?
There are a few things you can do to keep your hair in tip-top shape:
- only shampoo it 1-2 times per week, and follow with conditioner (Dry shampoo is your friend! My favorite is Living Proof® Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo - no residue, and no horrible smell.)
- use a hair mask 1-2 times per week (I haven't started using one yet, but I have the Ouai Treatment Mask and Briogeo Don't Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask here to try.)
- get regular trims (I'm currently on an every 8 weeks schedule, but every 4-8 weeks is good - whatever works best for you.)
- limit the heat tools, and always use a thermal protection product (I use Alterna Caviar CC Cream 10-in-1 when my hair is wet, and my new one for when my hair is dry will be Alterna Bamboo Smooth Kendi Oil Dry Oil Mist.)
- practice safe sun - wear a hat, use hair styling products with UV filters and/or moisturizing ingredients (I don't wear a hat for day-to-day, but I do always wear one at the beach.)
If you're interested in the current products I'm using on my hair, they can be found in the blog post, Product Review: Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Hair Products - Moisture Replenishing Shampoo & Conditioner, Multi-Vitamin Heat Protection Spray, & CC Cream 10-in-1.
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