Healthy Hair at Any Age

Healthy Hair at Any Age

Whether you’re in your 20s or your 50s, learn how to keep your hair beautiful and healthy.

By: Susan Linney

Maybe you've mentally prepared for the coming crow's feet, wrinkles and sagging skin. (Hello, aging.) But have you ever given thought to when your hair starts to age? Trust us, there's more to it than simply going gray. Damage from sun exposure, heat styling and hair dye play a major role, as do changing hormones and the body's decreasing ability to produce hair-friendly substances such as sebum (a fancy word for oil) and the pigment melanin.

It's important to adjust your regimen to meet the specific needs of changing tresses. What you can get away with in your 20s may be essential to avoid in your 40s, and practicing healthy hair habits at a young age will most certainly pay off later in life. No matter your age, the following advice will help you get your mane into its best shape — now and for decades to come.

In Your 20s
When you're young, hair has a natural bounce-back ability. This is the time to experiment with different styles, colors and cuts without worrying too much about immediate damage. But be mindful of eventual issues — and what you can do to ease the stress to your strands.

The bottom line? Stay ahead of hair damage in your 20s by establishing healthy habits.

"When you're young, keeping up with simple things like regular trims and conditioning treatments can go a long way toward preserving naturally healthy hair," says Ahbi Nishman, hairstylist and makeup artist for Hair Room Service, which serves celebrity clients like Kim Cattrall and Mariah Carey.

In your 30s 

In your 30s, the body's ability to produce essential moisturizing oils tends to slow down. One the best ways to decelerate this process is to cut down on how often you shampoo.

"Washing too often can be very stressful on your hair," says Carolina LiVigni, a New York City-based hairstylist. "Over-cleansing strips your hair of the natural oils produced by the scalp, which are Mother Nature's best conditioning treatments."

Limit washing to two to three times a week, and if you don't feel like that's enough, alternate between your regular wet hair cleanser and a dry shampoo.

Keep close tabs on how often you use heat, too. While heat styling is damaging at any age, "it can have harsher effects beginning in your 30s," Dueñas says, "because the hair is already compromised from changing hormones and loss of moisture." Using a protectant every time you blow dry is essential. Nishman suggests applying to damp — rather than sopping wet — hair and pointing your blow dryer downward along the hair shaft when you style to minimize damage.

In your 40s 

"Now's the time to give your hair regular TLC," says Diana Jewell, author of “Going Gray, Looking Great.” "Hair scales start to weather at this point, becoming rougher, drier and more susceptible to everyday damage."


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Choose your products carefully and look for heavy duty hydrating ingredients such as spirulina, hyaluronic acid, algae extract, lecithin, bee pollen, jojoba or avocado oils.

Jewell notes that this is the stage in which using specialized hair care products can make an enormous difference. In addition to natural factors, years of damage have taken a toll on your hair, and there are treatments on the market formulated to target these specific concerns.

Another common issue at this age is thinning hair. Using anti-aging products can help to add volume and boost strand strength.

Don't forget to keep up with diligent care — especially weekly deep conditioning treatments. Oils make great DIY hair masks: Jewell recommends giving yourself an at-home coconut oil treatment a couple times a month. To do it, rub a few drops of virgin coconut oil between your palms and apply to wet or dry hair. Work the oil evenly through your ends and let sit for an hour. Rinse with warm water and shampoo out.

In Your 50s and beyond 

Many women go gray at this point while most have to battle at least a few sneaky white strands.

"Gray hair does have a different composition than a non-gray hair," Jewell explains. "It's lost its melanin, which is the substance that gives hair color, as well as those little protein bundles called keratin. It's literally starving to death." Add to this the color many women use to cover the gray, and you've got seriously dry, weak strands that have great difficulty withstanding damage.


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Stepping up your intensive moisturizing treatments is a must in your 50s. Dueñas recommends using a deep conditioner at least twice a week — preferably one formulated with keratin. He also suggests avoiding products containing alcohol, which is extremely drying and can contribute to breakage.

Another option? Embrace your gray. Silver strands are the most susceptible to damage, so keeping them free of color will go a long way toward maintaining their health.

And gray hair doesn't have to scream grandma.

"The ombré trend has helped this enormously," Jewell says. "Not one single head of gray hair follows the same pattern, so many women embark on this journey only to discover their own unique palette of silver — and love it."

Susan is a tried-and-true city kid with a love for lipstick and body butter. She curates the eclectic, click-the-picture website, as well serves up weekly beauty recs for

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