As we get older, things change. It may seem like an obvious— and annoying— reminder, but bear with us. Your hair changes too— and not just in the form of pesky grey strands.
There are lots of things that are dead giveaways of age. Extra lines on the face. The music somebody listens to. Social media habits. Hair.
Hair gives away age more easily than you’d care to admit. Both the appearance of hair health and styling factor into this, and luckily, AER has age-defying solutions for both.
As someone ages, hair changes in a variety of ways. Color— which is a given— fades and gives way to grey as pigment cells take a nosedive. The elasticity of the hair strand dramatically decreases and becomes increasingly brittle. The actual hair follicle shrinks and in turn causes thinner hair. Finally, our body’s production of natural oils declines, leaving hair more dry and less nourished.
But age doesn’t mean the end of stunning style.
Adapting with your hair is a must if you’d like to maintain healthy hair that in turn awards styling freedom. While your hair changes, you can update it. We asked the experts to share their best anti-aging hair care tips and tricks to keep your strands looking healthy and youthful to represent your individual style.
Consider this your anti aging playbook, courtesy of AER.
The Aging Timeline
Before our deep dive on how to facilitate the healthy aging of hair, let’s lay out the timeline for the stages hair goes through. This will be our framework for both our restorative and preventative hair care tips later on in this guide.
Here’s the breakdown by age.
(Note: on average, men experience the hair aging process faster)
- Peak Elasticity
- Natural Shine
- Sebum Production Begins to Slow
- Reduced Shine
- Damage Increasingly Visible
- Thinning Begins
- Greying Begins
- Elasticity Declines
- Hairline Begins to Change
- Advanced Greying
- Weakend Individual Strands
- Hair Loss
- Lifeless Texture
- Advanced Thinness
Something to Consider
Now that you know what to expect, let’s bring some good news into the picture. A majority of people don’t help their hair out when it comes to aging. What this means is that the bar is currently low regarding hair health as we grow older. With these special insights, you’ll be leading the pack for years to come.
Since we’re not getting any younger, here are our tips and tricks:
Fundamental Industry Changes
Surprisingly, the concept of focusing on anti aging’s applications toward hair isn’t something that has always been in practice. The beauty industry tends to focus on cranking out new skincare products with an emphasis on damage mediation while the haircare industry was left behind.
Skincare— especially products localized for use on the face— has taken the anti aging spotlight for years. With hyaluronic acid moisturization, retinol regimens, and chemical exfoliants taking the market by storm, it was easy to focus on the face and forget its nextdoor neighbor— hair.
(Side note: hyaluronic acid is the skincare secret that’s taken the industry by storm. We’ve got insights on ingredients which are basically the hyaluronic acid for hair. Read on.)
Although conditioners have been a viable option and commercially available for the entirety of the modern beauty era, the products lack the same specificity and crafted care witnessed within the skincare universe.
Consumers and brands have since noticed the gap.
Rodney Cutler, the Redken Brand Ambassador, has spoken about this gap and how the industry has evolved to fill it:
“The anti-aging movement in the haircare world is a relatively new concept. As women strive to look and feel better as they age, the marketplace has become inundated with lotions and potions for skin, hair and wellness. As we grow older, our hair naturally loses its elasticity, protein, and melanin depletion leads to gray hair. When you see products advertised as “anti-aging,” they usually contain certain ingredients to restore these lost nutrients and produce more volume, shine and thickness.”
AER’s Conditioner Crash Course
Next time you’re tempted to snag conditioners off the shelf at random, think again. Not all conditioners are created equal. We’re here to break down the mechanics behind conditioners to equip you to find the best possible hair care solution for yourself.
Our only mission is to keep your hair in great shape, so our guide is truly a bias-free zone when it comes to products.
Let’s begin the conditioner breakdown, starting with misconceptions.
Conditioner Myths and Misconceptions
Myth One: conditioner will only weigh down my hair.
Conditioner protects the cuticle layers and can prevent further damage weakening the strands. Any changes in the products we use will require an adjustment— we should adjust our expectations away from a one-time fix.
Products alter hair elasticity, thickness, and texture for the better. Oftentimes, a learning curve accompanies these changes in hair texture. Stick with it, and you’ll learn how to style your rejuvenated hair in no time.
Myth Two: conditioner “repairs” split ends.
A split end is a split end— the only definitive fix is to trim off the affected area. However, some conditioners do help to target the issues that cause split ends within the hair strand.
Troubleshooting hair dryness, thin strands, and brittleness all are part of the equation in eliminating unwanted fraying tips.
Myth Three: the longer it’s left in, the better.
We know. You leave the conditioner in as long as possible in the shower to help aid your hair’s journey to silky smooth. Forget about it. Almost all products (hair serums, hair masks, and conditioners) reach their maximum potential effects after the time listed on the bottle.
Your extra 20 minutes in the shower saturated in the conditioner isn’t supercharging your effects. The benefits plateau. Next time, stick to the time allotment recommended. As for the extra minutes we just saved you— you’re welcome.
Myth Four: conditioner’s only use is for damage repair.
Wrong again. Get this— there’s a secret killer of your hair, and it isn’t UV rays, styling tool heat, or abrasive over-brushing. It’s water.
There are tons of minerals and residue in tap water that are undetectable to the naked eye. Over time, this buildup can cause dullness, brassiness, and in some cases, rather dramatic color changes.
Frustrating? Yes. Easily fixable? Also yes. Most conditioners contain color correctors and hair-shining ingredients which can offset and erase hair damage due to water and whatever may be in it.
Myth Five: hair damage is entirely external.
While it’s easy to focus on the outside, there’s more going on inside each hair strand than you’d think. While obvious signs of damage such as coarseness and dullness may seem like the extent of the issue, they’re more like symptoms. Virtually all hair damage originates within the core of the hair strand and may be caused by dehydration, lack of oils, and environmental factors.
What to do about it? Look for conditioners with deeply enriching and nourishing ingredients. We’ll show you how to decipher conditioner lingo below.
Your Conditioner PhD in Cosmetic Chemistry
There’s a huge gap in conditioner education. Marketers take advantage of this and aim to make products more appealing solely based on eye-catching packaging and flashy benefits— but they do have to disclose what’s in the bottle.
With a little sleuthing, you can crack the code and make sure the conditioner on the shelf at the store is the right one for the shelf in your bathroom.
Here’s the rundown on the components that make conditioners pop.
- Acidity Regulators
Taking it back to chemistry class for a moment— acidity regulators help to keep a conditioner’s pH levels in the maximum effectiveness zone. Typically, this magic pH is right around 3.5, making it more acidic than water.
What’s it do? Creating an acidic environment for hair strands causes the hair to slightly tighten, increasing the strength at a molecular level in the hair’s naturally occurring keratin.
- Antistatic Agents
Static is the enemy of control when it comes to hair styling. Conditioners come fused with polymers to fight off static electricity. Look for the ingredients Polyquaternium-10 and Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride.
Say hello to shine. These are the ingredients which restore the luster to your hair. These are silicones, more specifically Dimethicone or Cyclopentasiloxane.
These are easy to spot. Moisturizers bind moisture to the hair and act as a primary facilitator in the health of hair and skin. Supermoisturizers include Aloe Vera, Shea Butter, Avocado, and Glycerin. Learn which main moisturization ingredient works best for you.
- EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids)
Pliability is key in hair health and styling. Oils, or EFAs, help regulate these processes. EFAs are the closest naturally-occurring substitute to sebum. Since sebum production trails off in your 30s, EFAs pick up some of the slack.
- Hydrolyzed Protein
Although a little more rare, this ingredient is key to penetrating the hair strand and strengthening it from within. These proteins revitalize hair structure.
Sunscreens protect hair from environmental UV damage, shielding hair proteins from deterioration. Benzophenone-4 and Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate are two commonly used sunscreens in hair conditioners. They’re different from skin sunscreens, formulated to be lighter and less greasy.
These ingredients are where some of the most interesting magic (science) happens. Over 95 percent of hair is structured from a protein called keratin. Surfactants bond to the surface of keratin molecules, leaving the surfactants’ hydrophilic end to act as the new hair surface. This chemical process occurs during conditioning, and stays as a part of the hair even after washing. Consider surfactants a replacive line of defense. (Look for Behentrimonium Chloride and Cetrimonium Chloride ingredients to leverage these science-based tricks)
There you have it— your guide for understanding the power of anti aging hair care products.
Holistic Hair Care
It might also be time to consider some non-product solutions to facilitate healthy hair aging. Creating intentional lifestyle changes regarding what we eat can directly affect hair health. Here are the top nutrients to aim for when adding hair-friendly foods into your diet.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Found in fish, nuts, and plant oils
A big player in assisting hair growth, Magnesium can be found in booked beans, almonds, and via supplements.
- Vitamin A
Essential for increasing sebum/oil production, Vitamin A is found in eggs, spinach and supplements.
Our top picks for hair-healthy foods include avocados, walnuts, fish (especially salmon and halibut), carrots and spinach.
While both product and lifestyle-based hair health solutions are important, reducing unneeded heat damage is also key. Most hair dryers dry with excessive amounts of heat, achieving drying with undue stress on your hair.
AER is designed with environmental sensors which determine dryer heat and fan speed, prioritizing both hair health and incredible styling results simultaneously. The secret is in AER’s environmental sensor technology and adaptable AI personalization.
With both the AER dryer and our insider anti aging guide, your results are unprecedented.
Have a favorite hair care product or tip? Share it with us using the hashtag #AERinsider