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This Is How Your Hair Changes As You Age


12 Min Read

By Dr. Kali Olsen, ND2020-02-26

Medically Reviewed by


Hair aging is a complex process. There’s not a magical “thing” that can ensure great hair for a lifetime. Graceful aging comes with meeting the individual needs of your body as they adjust, while also keeping in mind that the larger influences impacting the environment around your hair follicle are just as important as your hair follicle itself.

This is shown in the fact that our hair growth changes aren’t as linear as you’d expect: When scalp biopsies of individuals over the age of 60 were compared to samples from their younger counterparts, results were found to be so similar that experts have concluded that old age isn’t a realistic cause for hair loss on its own. Instead, it’s the impact of other health factors and lifestyle changes during each stage of our life.

Hair changes in our 20s

Major life changes in your 20s can bring about changes in your hair. As our 20s is a popular time for family planning, significant shifts in hormones around pregnancy can impact the female hair growth cycle. These changes, as well as the common 20-something struggles of higher education, career planning, and generally finding your place in life, can bring on increased stress that your hair follicles aren’t used to. That’s why this period is a great time to consider stress support, such as mindfulness practices or adaptogen herbs like reishi mushroom.

We also know that hair graying and hair loss are hugely impacted by our everyday habits, so people in their 20s should strive to avoid things like cigarette smoke, UV radiation, and inflammatory stress while their hair follicles are at their most resilient. Starting gentle hair practices now and avoiding too much friction or harsh cosmetic treatments is also ideal for combating premature grays. For men, hormone-sensitive hair loss can technically have an effect any time after puberty, so keep an eye out for these potential changes, especially if it runs in your family. (But fun fact: Men typically enjoy their thickest hair in this decade!) 

Hair changes in our 30s

As we get older, our hair’s growth phase starts to decrease in length. Color pigments are sent through our hair strands during this stage in the growth cycle, so a shorter growth phase may lead to an emergence of gray hairs. This makes your 30s an ideal time to take supporting for your overall growth cycle seriously if you’re looking to preserve your hair follicle health and keep gray hair at bay. 

Identifying and supporting your underlying stressors may be key to helping your follicles get back into growth phase, where your melanocytes can regroup and return to work. Collagen, which is needed to keep our skin resilient, also helps keep our hair follicles secure and nourished. In our 20s, our collagen production starts to naturally decrease, so crossing into your 30s is the perfect time to start thinking about supporting your collagen. Collagen production can be supported with nutrients such as vitamin C and amino acids such as cysteine, which can be found in Nutrafol Core products.

Hair changes in our 40s

At this age, the units of our follicles responsible for pigmenting our hair begin to reach their natural limits on how many times they can hit their internal “reset” button and reconstruct, so grays become more apparent in the early 40s. You’ll see that greater changes are more commonly noted in later decades, thanks to androgen-sensitivity, so it’s a good time to think about supporting yourself against current and future influences. Men in general and women beginning to experience signs of perimenopause should start considering DHT-inhibiting support such as saw palmetto, which works to help block the transition from testosterone to DHT, its hair follicle-bullying form. Herbs such as maca can help support against the fluctuations in hormones responsible for the un-fun symptoms we correlate with menopause. (Another fun fact: While men experience their thickest hair in their 20s, many women experience their thickest head of hair in this decade.)

Hair changes in our 50s

While there’s some natural variation to each person’s hair thickness, there’s a trend towards smaller overall diameter as we age. Experts suspect part of this is due to hormonal sensitivities and imbalances — another argument for both men and women to support themselves against these increasing influences. 

This is also the time period where we most commonly see a slight decrease in our number of hair follicles, most notably in men in their 50s and beyond. That’s why this age is a great time to ensure you’re supporting the needs of your hair follicles by taking a closer look at your digestion. By this period of your life, unaddressed digestive issues can become more apparent when it comes to their impact on the absorption of nutrients crucial for your overall health as well as your hair health. Ingesting nutrients through easier-to-absorb supplements, as opposed to solely relying on food sources, becomes more important. When it comes to age-related hair loss after this decade, micro-inflammation in the hair follicle is part of the picture, so also consider increasing your support of a healthy inflammatory response with things like fish oil and curcumin.

Hair changes in our 60s

Welcome to the silver fox years! Regardless of ethnicity or hair color, our 60s is the decade where all of us finally experience some amount of graying hair. In these later decades, an increase in our oxidative response, or response due to external stress, is often seen in our hair, especially as our natural ability to combat these stresses decreases. You’ve experienced a lot in your life, so it makes sense that your hair has, too! Our risk for cardiovascular and other inflammation-related diseases increases significantly by this age (which can further stress out our hair follicles), so consider amping up your antioxidant support with foods like dark greens and berries and supplements like vitamin C and astaxanthin, found in Nutrafol products.

Hair changes in our 70s and beyond

At this age, we note a decrease in average hair follicle counts in both men and women. While men more commonly experience changes in the influences in their hormones earlier, the influence of menopause increases female’s hormone-sensitive hair loss risk to a discernible amount by their 70s. The typical hair loss that we see in our golden years may actually just be an unassuming decrease in the size of otherwise normally-functioning hair follicles. Because our growth cycle and hair follicles are unscarred and hanging in there, our hair follicles likely just need an extra push from the right nutrient, herbal, or pharmaceutical stimulation to keep them going.

Then around our 90s, we notice another slight decrease in average hair follicle counts — but who knows? Your hair’s future might look a little different if you start fueling your hair follicles today.

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