Your hair is getting dryer. And thinner. Duller. And impossible to style. Luckily, help is at hand.
Great Hair After Menopause
Help for dry hair
Problem: Starting with menopause, your scalp begins to produce less sebum, or hair oil. Your hair becomes progressively dryer and more unmanageable as you lose this natural lubrication.
Washing can strip the natural oils from your hair, so you might consider alternating a dry shampoo, such as Umberto Dry Clean Dry Shampoo* ($9, Target), with your wet shampoo. A dry shampoo also has the advantage of not requiring blow drying—which damages your hair, as well.
Don’t use shampoos that have a clarifying formulation—a proven way lose the protective oils your hair needs. Instead, use a shampoo that is keratin-, or protein-enriched, and follow it up with a leave-in hydrator such as Nexxus Botanluxe Nourishing Botanical Leave-In Conditioner* ($12, drugstores).
Periodic use of concentrated moisture masks, such as The Body Shop Rainforest Moisture Hair Butter* ($14, thebodyshop-usa.com) can also help.
Finally, you might try an occasional glaze—a clear treatment that adds glossiness to your hair and stays on through multiple shampoos. Most salons offer glaze treatments. Or you can do it yourself at home with Oscar Blandi At Home Salon Glaze Shine Rinse* ($27 beauty.com).
Help for thinning hair
Problem: The actual hair fibers on your head start decreasing in your 20s and may shrink 30% to 35% by age 60. If that isn’t bad enough, recent research suggests that, in your early 40s, the actual diameter of each strand starts to shrink, as well.
As your hair thins, it loses some of its protein, making it more fragile. Keratin-, or protein-enriched shampoos and conditioners can help make your hair thicker and less vulnerable to breakage.
Recommended products include Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Moisturizing Lather Shampoo* and Awapuhi Cream Rinse* ($19 and $20 respectively, at salons). Also available at Amazon.com.
You’ll need new styling tools as your hair grows finer. Your old ones will not work as well, and may even damage your hair. Three styling tips:
1. Replace your old styling gel with one that is especially designed for finer hair, such as Pantene
Pro-V Fine Hair Style Triple Action Volume Mousse* ($4, drugstores).
2. Avoid back-combing or teasing. It can damage your hair’s already fragile outer layer. Instead, try a root lifter, such as TRESemme 24 Hour Body Root Boosting Spray* ($4.50, drugstores).
3. Reduce blow drying to a minimum. The finer your hair is, the more damage blow drying will do.
For more volume, consider getting your hair cut in layers around your face and on the top of your head. A short, layered cut that frames your face provides the most coverage and volume.
If all else fails, see your dermatologist. Meanwhile, you can check out CRC Concealing Color Kit* ($38. Available at qvc.com)—a brush-on, stay-put scalp makeup.
Help for drab color
Problem: Hair gets its color from melanin. As we age, our production of melanin decreases. About 50% of us will be 50% gray by the time we’re 50 years old—and this comes with side effects. Melanin absorbs UV sun rays and boosts shine. In the absence of melanin, your hair’s protein has to absorb the UV rays. Result: weaker, drabber hair.
To go gray gloriously, use a shine-enhancing shampoo like Clairol Shimmer Lights* ($9, drugstores) to reduce the yellow and boost the silver. Because gray hair is very susceptible to UV damage, you’ll have to protect it from the sun by spraying it with a UV spray, such as Aveda Sun Care Protective Hair Veil* ($26, aveda.com), or wear a hat in the sun. Got wiry, stand-up gray hair? Try Garnier Fructis Triple Nutrition Nutrient Spray* ($6, drugstores).
If you decide to color your gray, stay away from harsh, dramatic colors—black, bright red, platinum blonde. Those colors will make you look older and highlight every skin flaw. Stick to softer, gentler colors that complement your skin tones. Especially look for colors that come close to your natural hair color.
Help for wiry/kinky hair
Problem: Hair curvature may change and become more wiry or kinky and less manageable as you age. This newfound texture can also be more vulnerable to damage.
There are two kinds of products that can help. One kind protects hair from damage (especially thermal). A good product to try for this problem is Blow Heat Is On Protective Styling Mist* (around $18, Amazon.com). The other kind of product is designed to keep hair smooth. A good example is Aubrey Organics NuStyle Organic Hair Smoothing Serum* ($21, aubrey-organics.com).
Kinky hair is fragile hair, so you have to minimize brushing-induced damage. Forget the 100-strokes-a-night rule. Those days are gone forever. If you can’t get away with a wide-toothed comb, try a gentler boar bristle brush, such as Good Boar Blends Ceramic Paddle Brush* ($7.50, drugstores) for detangling and getting your hair into place.
Foods and nutrients that promote great hair
• Salmon, sardines, and mackerel provide omega-3 fatty acids, for shiny hair
• Greek yogurt, for protein and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) to increase blood flow to the scalp
• Spinach, for vitamins A and C, iron, beta carotene and folate to battle brittle hair
• Foods containing iron—soybeans, lentils, beef, liver, shellfish—to prevent hair loss
• Lean poultry for protein that supports thicker hair
• Sweet potatoes for beta carotene to protect against dry, dull hair
• Cinnamon for blood circulation to bring oxygen and nutrients to your hair
• Eggs for protein, iron, and biotin—a B vitamin that promotes hair growth
• Oysters, beef, crabs, lobsters for zinc to helps cells that build hair to work their hardest
*Note: All hair products mentioned in this article have been recommended by Goodhousekeeping.