When I was little, my mom used to drag me to the hairstylist with her, point to my head, and tell her colorist, “I want that.” The stylist, as politely as possible, would have to tell her (every time) that she would try her best, but hair at age 40 is a totally different than hair at age four. This was my crash course in learning that hair changes as you age, and that anti-aging shampoo can be an important addition to your routine as you get older.
“Much like your skin, your hair loses its elasticity, fullness, and, in [the case of your mom], pigment,” says Cory Aaron Scott, a celebrity hairstylist based in Los Angeles. As a result, you’ll see changes in your hair’s texture, density, and color over time.
“As we age the diameter of our hair strands decreases, our texture changes and the melanin that gives our hair its color also decreases,” says Gretchen Friese, certified trichologist for BosleyMD. “So the thick, coarse hair of a young adult eventually becomes thin, fine, light-colored hair.” In other words, as we age, the shape and size of our hair follicles—which determine our wave patterns and the size of each strand—start to change, which in turn changes the texture and volume of our hair.
And as far as color goes, “The pigment cells in our hair follicles gradually die as we get older and the strands of hair will no longer contain as much melanin, so will become a more transparent color, like gray, silver, or white, as they grow,” she says.
There are a few different elements that impact these shifts in the health appearance of our hair. The biggies? Hormones and environmental factors. “Our hormones, for one, play a big part in the shape and size of the follicle,” says Friese. DHT (Dihydrotestosterone), for example, attacks the hair follicle and shrinks it, which she says can lead to pattern baldness. “We also need to be aware of environmental factors when it comes to our hair follicles,” she adds. “Things in the air like dust and smoke can clog the follicles, which makes the growth environment —aka the scalp— less healthy.”
While there isn’t anything you can do to stop it altogether (it’s a normal and natural process, after all), integrating certain products into your routine will help keep your hair healthy for the long haul. “Just like you would change up your skin-care routine as you age, it’s just as important to change up your hair care to see the best results,” says Michelle Cleveland, a hairstylist based in New Jersey. According to Julien Farel, creative director and owner of the Julien Farel Restore Salon and Spa at New York City’s Regency hotel, “to minimize some of these changes, the most important way to help the aging process is to use the right shampoo.”
Below, we rounded up stylists’ top picks for the best anti-aging shampoo money can buy. Keep reading to shop ’em for yourself.
Find the right anti-aging shampoo for your hair concern
Best for scalp care
Head & Shoulders Supreme Dry Scalp Care and Dandruff Treatment Shampoo and Conditioner Bundle — $17.00
“Caring for your scalp with products that have zinc actives in them can reduce the oxidative stress on the scalp,” Rolanda Johnson Wilkerson, PhD, a beauty scientist, previously told Well+Good. Oxidative stress happens as a result of your body interacting with environmental stressors—like pollution or water with heavy metals in it—and create damage like collagen depletion, hyperpigmentation, and a disruption of your skin barrier. All of this can lead to itching and flaking, which is why Dr. Wilkerson is a fan of this drugstore shampoo and conditioner bundle. It uses zinc to prevent aging-related damage in your scalp and jojoba and argan oils for added nourishment, leading to the growth of healthier strands.
Best multi-step treatment
Virtue Flourish Hair Rejuvenation Treatment — $55.00
For a more intensive anti-aging regimen, Scott recommends this three-step treatment routine, which he calls “the best daily product on the market.” It comes with a shampoo, conditioner, and density booster, which work together to thicken hair and reduce signs of thinning.
Best for grays
Oribe Silverati Shampoo — $46.00
Instead of hiding your grays, this luxurious formula will help you embrace them. It’s made with a blend of antioxidant-rich extracts that protect hair from oxidative stress, pigments that brighten silver and gray tones and prevent discoloration, and hydrolyzed keratin protein to restore your strands’ strength and elasticity.
Best for dryness
BosDefense Color Safe Nourishing Shampoo — $21.00
This shampoo is meant to keep your scalp nourished and moisturized—think of it as a hydrating cleanser for your hair. “Anti-aging for the hair needs to start with taking care of the scalp—the scalp is an extension of your face, and just like the skin on our faces we need to take care of the skin on our scalp to keep it healthy,” says Friese, who recommends this product for anyone dealing with age-induced dryness. In addition, it helps to wash away dirt, grime, and product build-up without stripping your scalp, creating a healthy environment for new hair to grow.
Best for strength
K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask — $80.00
While this isn’t technically a shampoo, it’s worth mentioning because no anti-aging hair care list would be complete without the K18 Leave-In Molecular Repair Hair Mask. Meant to be used after you wash your hair (in lieu of conditioner), “the way it works is that the product goes into the cortex of your hair and seals it, and since it’s a peptide bond, it holds onto the protein that your hair structure is made of,” Madison Rae Garrett, a master colorist at Spoke and Weal, previously told Well+Good. In four minutes, this mask rebuilds your hair from the inside out, reducing damage and improving your strands’ strength and elasticity.
Want to hack the rest of your haircare HYPHENATED routine? Check out the video below for how the best way to style your hair texture in a way that’ll keep it healthy for the long haul.
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