The concept of how old is old has been changing, and whereas in our grandparents’ day they may have considered themselves old at fifty, these days fifty (except to teenagers) is still young. I see more and more women in their fifties, sixties, seventies, even eighties and nineties who want to take every step possible to maintain their hair. My mother, who died just four months short of her 100th birthday, insisted on me looking at her hair and supplying her with preparations well into her nineties.
And why not? The way your hair looks affects your morale at any age. With age it becomes more difficult but certainly not impossible.
There are many things we can do as we get older to keep looking and feeling younger. We exercise, eat healthily, use skin moisturizers, color our hair – and as it loses ‘body’, have perms and use more bodyfying products. It is unfortunately inevitable that our hair gradually loses body. Very slowly, similar to our skin changes and muscle tone, the hairs’ diameters diminish. This does not mean that we have less hairs in number, just that each hair gradually begins to take up less space – thumb hairs, for example, become finger hairs – 100 thumbs take up more space, look and feel more than 100 fingers.
The degree of these changes depends pardy on genetics but also on hormones – oestrogen production is less. All change with aging, and none of us have the skin or body at sixty-five that we had at twenty-five. And just as we take extra care of our skin as we get older, we need to take extra care of our hair. And whatever your age, your hair can still look wonderful – if you do the right things.
The most important of these is frequent shampooing and conditioning – hair looks its best when freshly washed, and the scalp gets exercise as it is being washed. Daily is best, but if this is not possible, as frequently as you can manage – at least twice a week, though.
Each morning knead your scalp for half a minute: place your spread fingertips and thumbs over your scalp and gently move the scalp over the skull. Massage such as this should not be underestimated. Once a week or twice a month apply a scalp masque and a hair masque. Many are available in good pharmacies or salons. These should be massaged into the scalp and hair for about ten minutes prior to shampooing. If you want to make your own combined scalp and hair mask, whip together:
2 half eggshells full of witch hazel
Half an eggshell of vodka
Apply the mixture liberally to the scalp and all through the hairs’ length. Massage gently and thoroughly for ten minutes and wash off with your regular shampoo and conditioner. Although this is quite effective, specific separate scalp and hair masks may give an even better result.
By all means color or perm whenever you wish. Each of these swells the hair shaft and makes it feel and look thicker – and neither will make the hair fall out or make it thin. They may make it a little dry, but this can easily be counteracted by conditioning. Don’t stint on using styling aids to add to your hair’s bulk and condition. The choice of body builders, hair controllers, smoothers, shiners and conditioners have never been better. Again, none of these will make your hair fall out, and the cosmetic effect they give will add to your hair’s appearance and your morale. Don’t forget to eat correctly and remember that your hair is protein, so some protein everyday, particularly at breakfast and lunch, is important. Also, in older age the values of haemoglobin can be reduced, making the eating of red meat, for example, important as well. The hair aging factor, I repeat, is to a degree inevitable, but with care you can slow it down a lot and have your hair look better than you think.