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How Does Aging Affect Your Hair

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality health coverage, explores how ageing impacts your hair.

“As we age, our bodies undergo various changes; our hair is no exception,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

“Ageing can transform our hair in several ways, from its colour and texture to its thickness and growth patterns. Understanding these changes can help us take steps to care for our hair as we age.”

Greying

One of the most noticeable signs of ageing hair is the appearance of grey or white strands. Hair colour is determined by melanin, a pigment produced by melanocytes in our hair follicles. As we age, these melanocytes gradually produce less melanin, leading to a reduction in pigment and the eventual emergence of grey hair.

Thinning

Many people notice their hair becoming thinner as they age. This thinning can be attributed to various factors, including hormonal changes, reduced hair follicle size, and decreased hair follicles. Androgenetic alopecia (male or female pattern baldness) is a genetic disorder that causes significant hair thinning and loss.

Texture Transformation

Have you ever noticed your hair’s texture changing as you get older? You’re not alone. Ageing can affect the structure of the hair shaft, leading to changes in texture. Hair that was once smooth and silky may become coarse, wiry, or dry. This shift is partly due to decreased oil production in the scalp, which can leave hair less hydrated and more prone to brittleness.

Growth Slowdown

 

The hair growth cycle comprises three phases each strand experiences during its lifetime. Understanding this cycle is critical to understanding why hair grows, sheds, and regenerates the way it does.

 

Anagen (Growth Phase): The anagen phase represents the active growth stage of hair, lasting from 2 to 7 years. This phase primarily dictates how long your hair can grow. Throughout this period, cells at the hair’s root divide quickly, contributing to the hair shaft and enabling the hair to extend approximately 1 cm every 28 days. Hair on the scalp remains in this active growth stage longer than hair found in other body areas.

 

Catagen (Transition or Regressing Phase): Following the anagen phase, hair enters the catagen phase, a transitional stage that lasts about 10 days to 2 weeks. In this phase, the hair follicle shrinks and detaches from the dermal papilla (a structure at the base of the hair follicle that provides nutrients), effectively ending the growth phase. This phase is relatively short compared to the others.

 

Telogen (Resting Phase): The final phase of the cycle is the telogen phase, which lasts around three months. The hair doesn’t grow during this time but doesn’t fall out either. The hair follicle is in a state of rest, and the club hair (which has stopped growing and is no longer in the anagen phase) is wholly developed. As this phase concludes, the hair follicle transitions back into the anagen phase, prompting new hair growth. This new growth then pushes the old hair out of the follicle, resulting in natural hair shedding.

At any given time, different hairs on your head are at various stages of this cycle, which prevents all your hair from falling out or growing at once.

It is typical to lose 50 to 100 hairs daily as part of the natural cycle. However, with each passing year, our hair growth rate slows, with hair spending more time in the resting phase (telogen) and less time in the active growth phase (anagen).

Caring for Ageing Hair

 

While we can’t turn back the clock, there are steps we can take to care for our ageing hair and keep it looking its best:

Hydrate and Nourish: Use moisturising shampoos and conditioners to hydrate your hair. Look for products free from harsh chemicals.

Be Gentle: Ageing hair is more susceptible to damage, so it’s essential to treat it gently. Avoid excessive heat styling, and use a wide-tooth comb to minimise brush breakage.

Embrace the Gray: If you’re going grey, consider embracing it. Grey hair can be striking and beautiful. If you prefer to colour your hair, opt for products designed for grey coverage and seek professional advice to minimise damage.

Boost Volume: For thinning hair, volumising products can work wonders. Lightweight mousses or sprays can help raise the hair at the roots, creating the illusion of larger, thicker hair.

Eat Well: A balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals can support healthy hair. Look for foods high in vitamins A, C, D, and E and iron, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Consult Professionals: If you’re concerned about significant hair changes, consult a dermatologist or a trichologist. They can offer tailored advice and treatments, such as topical minoxidil, to address specific concerns.

About Affinity Health

 

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health coverage provider, offering you a range of options at affordable rates, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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