By Becca Newell
Besides wrinkles, going grey is one of the most dreaded signs of aging. It often starts with a single strand that leads to a salt-and-pepper-like sprinkling, before seemingly taking over our tresses. Melanin—a lack of it, really—-is to blame. As we age, our body slows down its production of this pigment, which, at one time, it naturally injected into hair’s keratin, creating shiny, colorful locks.
Color changes aside, there are a few other aspects that come with the greys of aging hair. And while that might not be welcome news, there is a bright side: a slew of products, treatments, and styles that combat these issues.
We talked to Salon Director Steve Metzdorf, at Hudson & Fouquet Salon
in Annapolis and Stylist Penny Metje, at Headrush 180 Salon
in Easton, to discuss aging hair and the best ways to fight back. Game on!
The Key to Healthy Hair
Nutrition is the most important aspect in maintaining a healthy mane. “Whatever you’re putting in your body—whether it’s food, liquids, medication—it’s all going to come out in your hair and nails,” Metzdorf says. “And second is stress. Avoid it, if you can.” General practices for healthy hair are different for everyone, but, on average, you should wash hair every two to three days and schedule a trim/cut every six to eight weeks. Other suggestions include limiting heat-styling to a few times a week (and never using a flat or curling iron on wet hair), opting for looser hairstyles (a low ponytail or relaxed braid, for example), and detangling wet hair with a wide-tooth comb, brushing from the ends to the roots.
Keratin, Brazilian, and Other Smoothing Treatments
The process consists of a stylist applying a smoothing solution to your hair and locking it in to strands with the heat from a flat iron. These treatments are said to help de-frizz and hydrate hair, revealing more manageable, shiny tresses. “A lot of people think there’s damage associated with [this treatment]; it actually improves your hair, especially the keratin treatment because that’s what your hair is made of,” Metzdorf says. It’s not a straightening treatment per se, but it will save some blow-drying and styling time, and help to eliminate straw-like hair. The average time for these treatments is around 90 minutes; prices range between $175 and $350.
While there’s a slew of anecdotal praise on the Internet that claim biotin supplements boost hair growth, substantial scientific evidence is limited. Most likely, the connection comes from studies, like one from Harvard University, which suggested B-complex vitamins, including biotin, are important for hair follicle nourishment and contribute to its strength and texture. While supplements remain under study, this water-soluble vitamin can be found naturally in egg yolks, yeast, milk, and legumes. The recommended intake for adults is 30 micrograms per day.
Dull & Flat
When it comes to wanting hair with a little oomph
, a cut is your best option. If your hair’s on the lengthier side, a few long layers can add some much needed volume and life into lackluster locks. A texture-building styling product sprayed onto the roots will also help to add some lift, but stick to one or two products—layering too many can overwhelm (read: flatten) hair. “Sometimes, especially around [Annapolis] with well water, we’ll see build-up on hair, which can also weigh hair down,” Metzdorf says. Regular salon visits for a quick wash, condition, and trim, he adds, will help to remove mineral accumulation on the scalp and strands.
Whether you want to cover those greys entirely or simply enhance the hue—stunning silvers, hazy purples, and even shades of white continue to be spotted on runways, celebrities, and style icons alike—be sure to seek color application at a salon, not in a box. While the price tag of an at-home dye may lure you in, Metzdorf warns of the high cost that fixing potential mistakes may provoke. Another benefit to letting an expert handle the color process: integrating grey strands or patches into the hair’s natural color with highlights or lowlights. “We’re not catching every hair, but instead blending the colors together,” he says, adding that the technique makes greys less prominent.”
Dry & Brittle
Smoothing products, like hydrating masks and conditioners, or smoothing treatments, à la Brazilian blowouts, can help to soften and hydrate locks. Many times, hair becomes dry and brittle with age, often a direct result of greying. Again, coloring hair can help—color treatments open up hair’s cuticle, or outer layer, allowing the chemicals to deposit color into the pigment molecules. “Grey hair has a different, more wiry texture. For some people, coloring the hair to cover up the grey is secondary to changing the texture,” Metzdorf says. While professional-grade conditioners, creams, and oils work best, a cut will also help. Just be sure to keep length on the longer side, if possible. “If anything, [shorter hair] will get a little more wild on you because it’s not going to have the weight to pull it down,” Metzdorf says.
Any type of hair loss, no matter how substantial, can be upsetting. But there is a relatively simple solution: hairpieces. These semi-permanent fixtures are integrated into existing hair, without the use of tape, glue, or adhesives, via several connectors—tiny plastic tubes that hair is pulled through. “You have to have some hair on the scalp so we can attach the hairpiece,” says Penny Metje of Headrush 180 Salon, who uses the Evolve Volumizer brand. And since they’re comprised of 100 percent human hair, any color or styling processes can continue as normal. The initial cost ranges between $1,200 and $1,500. (If you are experiencing hair loss due to a medical issue, you should check with your health plan provider to see if a portion of this cost is covered.) Clients have to return to the salon every four to five weeks to have the piece adjusted to amend for hair growth. On average, hairpieces last about a year before a replacement is needed.