What happens to our hair as we age?

During our lifetime our hair undergoes several changes. The process starts in the womb with the growth of Lanugo hair on the unborn babies skin and continues through various phases towards maturity.
This development may explain why some of us have curly hair for a certain lifespan and straighter hairs during others or why we start out blonde and end up dark

When talking about the aging process of hair we need to differentiate between two different processes: the Extrinsic Aging process and the Intrinsic Aging process.

Life’s wear’n’tear


Extrinsic Aging of hair has nothing to do with the age of an individual and is caused by external influences. Extrinsic aging occurs to hair above/outside the skin, it is not connected to the metabolism of the body any more and therefore if damaged will not regenerate.
Extrinsic Aging is caused by:
• Mechanical influences
• Environment
• Heat
• Chemical influences
The signs of Extrinsic Aging are:
• Split ends
• Dryness
• Porosity
• Brittleness

A course of In-salon repair treatments like Schwarzkopf Supreme Keratin, Rx Intense Restructuring & Fibre Force can help to repair and rejuvenate hair that is suffering the effects of wear and tear (or extrinsic aging)

Take-home care products will help to improve the quality of the hair, ranges like BC Hair Therapy Repair Rescue  or Redken Extreme can make a massive difference to your hair

But as we age…


However, as we get older (after 30 years old) cell renewal starts to slow down and this process effects hair and hair quality, resulting in visual changes that are part of the process of aging.
Intrinsic Aging is caused by:
• Genetic constitution or heredity
• Poor nutrition

We inherit attributes from our parents and their ancestors, these are passed on through DNA. In the same way that our unique Genome influences how we look, this sequence of ‘instructions’ for our body can determine how and when we age.
Nutrition seems to have major influence on hair quality, for example a sheep on a diet with high amounts of a particular Amino Acid will benefit from enhanced wool quality! So the same

Top 10 Foods for Healthy Hair

When it comes to healthy hair, it’s not just what you put on your tresses that counts — it’s what you put in your body, too.


1. Salmon
Besides being rich in protein and vitamin D (both are key to strong hair) the omega-3 fatty acids found in this tasty cold-water fish are the true superstar. Your body can’t make those fatty acids, which your body needs to grow hair. About 3% of the hair shaft is make up of these fatty acids. Omega-3s are also found in cell membranes in the skin of your scalp, and in the natural oils that keep your scalp and hair hydrated.
Other options: If salmon doesn’t thrill you, you can also get essential fatty acids from fish like herring, sardines, trout, and mackerel, as well as avocado, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts (see below for more wonderful things about walnuts.)
2. Walnuts
These are the only type of nut that have a significant amount of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re also rich in biotin and vitamin E, which helps protect your cells from DNA damage. Since your hair rarely gets much shielding from the sun, this is especially great. Too little biotin can lead to hair loss. Walnuts also have copper, a mineral that helps keep your natural hair color rich and lustrous.
3. Oysters
Oysters are rich in zinc, a lack of which can lead to hair loss (even in your eyelashes), as well as a dry, flaky scalp. Three ounces has a whopping 493% of your daily value. You can get some zinc through fortified cereals and whole grain breads, but oysters can boast a good level of protein too. Remember, hair is about 97% protein and without enough protein, your body can’t replace the hairs that you naturally shed every day and what you do make can be dry, brittle, or weak.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a great source of the antioxidant beta carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A. Basically, every cell of the body cannot function without enough A and it also helps protect and produce the oils that sustain your scalp.
5. Eggs
A great source of protein, eggs are loaded with four key minerals: zinc, selenium, sulfur, and iron. Iron is especially important, because it helps cells carry oxygen to the hair follicles, and too little iron (anemia) is a major cause of hair loss, particularly in women.
6. Spinach
The iron, beta carotene, folate, and vitamin C in spinach help keep hair follicles healthy and scalp oils circulating.
7. Lentils
Tiny but mighty, these legumes are teeming with protein, iron, zinc, and biotin, making it a great staple for vegetarian, vegans, and meat eaters.
8. Greek yogurt
Cruise the dairy aisle for low-fat options such as Greek yogurt, which is high in hair-friendly protein, vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid — an ingredient you’ll often see on hair care product labels), and vitamin D.
9. Blueberries
Exotic super fruits may come and go but when it comes to vitamin C, it’s hard to top this nutrient superhero. C is critical for circulation to the scalp and supports the tiny blood vessels that feed the follicles. Too little C in your diet can lead to hair breakage.
10. Poultry
This everyday entree is extraordinary when it comes to protein, as well as hair-healthy zinc, iron, and B vitamins to keep strands strong and plentiful. Because hair is nearly all protein, foods rich in protein are literally giving you the building blocks for hair.

The signs of Intrinsic Aging are:



The production of pigment, responsible for hair colour, reduces and may eventually stop. The result is grey-looking or faded hair, which may eventually turn completely white. Apart from the obvious loss of colour, loss of pigmentation contributes to an overall reduction in the substance of hair. Pigmentation also helps to protect hair from potentially harmful ultra-violet light; hence mature hair is more susceptible to damage.

Once started the process is irreversible and a natural result of the aging process. Europeans, on average, start to ‘grey’ at the age of 34 and by the age of 50 about 80% of the population have some white hair; resulting in a grey effect. By the age of 70, 50% of Europeans are completely white!

Smokers were found to be four times more likely to begin greying prematurely compared to non-smokers. In addition to obvious colour, pigmentation of the hair provides some protection from harmful ultra-violet light, produced by the sun



In mature hair, the rate of growth slows down and may eventually stop. It is therefore essential to take greater care of mature hair, as the process of renewal occurs less frequently. Mature hair is thinner, weaker, with reduced firmness and elasticity due to lack of lipids and amino acids. This is a direct result capillaries thinning, thus providing fewer nutrients to the papilla and hair follicle.

Hair products suitable for mature hair will therefore contain ingredients that boost with extra moisture, re-build and strengthen with amino acids, protect with UV filters and add extra pigmentation. Also scalp products that help stimulate blood supply, along with regular massage, are recommended.

Hair consists of several different keratins (proteins); in mature hair two of these decrease production. This was observed by comparing the hair of 25 year olds and 50 year olds. HHa3, HHa4 (the scientific name for these Keratins) start to cease full production leading to a reduction of hair density (hairs/cm), diameter (in pigmented hair) and growth rate/proliferation rate in hair follicle cells



The production of sebum decreases after 4o.  As a direct result, the hair will become dryer and more brittle, losing natural gloss and strength. Sebum also helps to protect the hair from damage.



Hair loss, or thinning hair, can be attributed to a reduction or complete cessation of mitosis, the process of cell division with the hair follicle. This takes place during the anagen phase of the growth cycle. However, as in the case of androgenic alopecia, thinning hair – leading to eventual hair loss – can also be attributed to a change in the length of the growth cycle itself

Hair loss, or thinning hair, is an inevitable result of the aging process and as such cannot be considered as damage to, or a disorder of, the hair or scalp. As we age, reduced mitosis, and normal changes to our hormone balance, results in hair that lacks substance. Hair reduces in diameter as the internal matrix loses firmness and elasticity due to lack of lipids and amino acids. As a result, the external cuticle layer is thinner and provides less protection. The hair overall becomes more brittle and prone to damage.

The supply of blood to the scalp can also decrease as a normal result of aging. In general, blood vessels to the extremities thin, hence the rich supply of nutrients, required for strong, healthy hair, is reduced at the papilla. The result? Weaker, thinner hair.

It is important to note that the rate at which hair changes during the aging process varies enormously from individual to individual. The onset of the aging process will also vary. In conclusion, mature hair is relatively easy to identify, however the underlying cause of aging hair is the result of a combination of processes all at various stages according to our genetic heritage.

New product technology offers us simple solutions to help reverse or minimize the effects of aging. If you are concerned about a loss of colour this can be addressed by an appointment with one of our amazing colorists – and the latest colour ranges like Igora Absolute not only offer a colouring solution but the range is designed to take care of mature hair needs

For ‘mature’ hair BC Hair Therapy offers Time Restore  a complete range of take-home and in-salon products to address the concerns of aging hair.

If hair loss is a concern the new Redken Cerafill  range will help revitalize the hair growth mechanism and add fullness and density

Talk to you salon professional to find out what products and services are suitable for your needs