Your hair’s in for a lot of changes once you make that milestone birthday, but with the right tips and tricks, you can keep your locks looking gorgeous. Here are the 6 main changes you’re in store for—and how to work around them:
Some research supports the theory that your enormous to-do list is helping along the graying process, but the build-up of hydrogen peroxide that ultimately kills strands’ pigment cells is linked to age.
The fix: Make lemonade of your lemons with L’Oreal Paris Excellence Age Perfect haircolor ($9, lorealparisusa.com), which adapts to grays differently than it does to pigmented hair for a mix of highlights and lowlights that adds dimension and fullness.
Just how much hair you’ll lose is basically determined by a genetic lottery (don’t always blame your mom’s dad) but research suggests that it’ll happen, to some degree, after 40.
The fix: If you’re dealing with major loss, try a 2% minoxidil product like Kérastase Densifique Minoxidil ($35, kerastase-usa.com), which will begin to reverse your scalp-revealing situation after four months. For instant cover, sprinkle pigmented hair fibers like Keranique Fiber Instant-FX ($40, keranique.com) in sparse spots.
3. Strength & Elasticity
The cells that form your hair’s protective outer cuticle become more fragile, and a dip in keratin protein levels leaves hair weaker and less elastic so it’ll snap, rather than bounce back, when pulled or stressed.
The fix: Start treating your hair with kid gloves. Use hot tools on their lowest settings and use a shielding spray with heat-buffering dimethicones, like TRESemmé Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray ($5,drugstore.com).4. Diameter
Again, 40 is the magic number. After that, the thickness of individual pigmented strands decreases, so it’s finer overall, despite the facts that your grays, bless ’em, tend to be coarser and thicker, says hair researcher Paradi Mirmirani, MD, a dermatologist at Kaiser Permanente Medical Group and faculty at the American Academy of Dermatology.
The fix: Use a protein-containing styling product to coat the hair and fake lost dimension. Try Toppik Hair Fattener ($18, toppik.com), a leave-in treatment that coats strands with keratin proteins.
Hair growth rate slows at midlife and beyond—it spends less time in the growth phase and more in the resting phase, which means it will grow more slowly, and won’t be able to grow as long as it once did.
The fix: Good news—wonder-drug minoxidil can make your hair stay in the anagen phase longer and grow faster. Anyone can use a 2% concentration with minor to no side effects, but its effects are only dramatic if your hair was really lacking to begin with.6. Shine & Texture
A natural loss of fatty acids and keratin proteins makes hair duller and more vulnerable to damage, so things you’ve always done (color, heat style, etc.) rough up the hair’s surface and damage its inner cortex, too. What’s more, naturally wiry grays don’t reflect light as well as your once-smooth hair did.
The fix: Run-of-the-mill daily conditioner protects your hair from wear and tear, but you should add a deep conditioning treatment weekly, too, Mirmirani, says. For a quick hit of shine, run a little hair oil, like Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil ($40, bumbleandbumble.com) through hair’s midlengths and ends.