From wrinkled hands to turkey necks and furrowed brows, there are many tell-tale signs that reveal the ages of those adept at warding off the ravages of time.
But your hair need not be one of them according to Sally-Ann Tarver, an expert trichologist who reveals ways of combating hair thinning and other changes which happen as we age.
Sally-Ann became interested in what she calls the ‘obscure profession’ of trichology after suffering severe injuries in a motorbike accident, the trauma of which resulted in acute hair loss herself.
She found that in the Midlands in the 1990’s there were very few experts in trichology and so retrained as one herself, establishing The Cotswold Trichology Centre in 1998.
Here she reveals how your hair changes as you get older and shares tips and techniques to help women of all ages keep their tresses beguilingly youthful.
HAIR IN YOUR 20’S
This is the decade for letting your locks grow long and curly. Like Adele’s, your hair should be as shiny and bouncy as it was in your teens. So enjoy it – and don’t be shy about changing your style, your colour and mixing things up to find the ‘do that suits you best.
But if your barnet isn’t as perky as it was when you were 15 chances are it is a reflection of an underlying health problem or iron deficiency, so don’t ignore the signs.
‘Hair in your 20’s should still be as thick and lustrous as it was in your teens. If you start to notice a problem act on it straight away, hair should not thin in this decade, so if it changes significantly you need to look in detail at your diet, lifestyle, partying habits and have some blood tests, especially if you have heavy periods. Deal with hair issues now or it will only get worse as you age and life gets more complicated,’ says Sally-Ann.
HAIR IN YOUR 30’S
Lots of women have children in their 30’s and the double whammy of hormonal and physical changes plus sleep deprivation and juggling a busy work and home life can play havoc with your hair. Those who haven’t had kids are less likely to see their hair undergo major changes in this decade but it is worth looking out for early thinning.
The Duchess of Cambridge doesn’t appear to have suffered from the postpartum hair loss that afflicts lots of women but she did complain in December of having been given a ‘mum fringe’ by famous stylist Richard Ward.
‘If you had children in your 20’s or 30’s, pregnancy can cause significant changes in your hair. Any pre-existing hair problems experienced in your 20s may be exacerbated with the arrival of a new bundle of joy. Low ferritin (iron stores) can be key a factor, as pregnancy diminishes your iron stores,’ she says.
‘This is simple to rectify by taking a high strength iron supplement until your ferritin level gets to 100, then maintaining it with a lower strength supplement. Deal with this relatively quickly and your hair should recover without having to do much else.
‘If a number of years have elapsed, simply restoring your iron will not restore your hair fully, you will need to use a stimulant to help it on its way, topical lotions may be enough, laser therapy may be more beneficial.’
HAIR IN YOUR 40’S
They say life begins at 40 but chances are your hair is starting to feel the impact of a couple of decades of working, socialising and rushing about. The three major detriments to hair condition are stress, hormones and iron deficiency.
‘Hopefully in your 40’s you’ll have a bit more money to spend on yourself and more time to invest in your hair – whether that’s more regular trips to the hairdresser or finding products which suit you better.
If you are likely to suffer from thinning or alopecia, like TV presenter Gail Porter, then it will probably make itself known around now. The good news is there’s plenty you can do whether through diet or treatment to restore it.
‘Your hair may not be as thick as it once was, especially if you had a family in your 30s. If a hair loss problem developed then and you didn’t have the time or finances to deal with it, now is the time to act.
‘It is still always best to start with a blood test and check if everything is at an optimum level or if any new issues have developed, deal with them first.
‘As in your 30s, if you have had an issue which has caused your hair to gradually thin and it has been allowed to continue for some time, simply rectifying the cause won’t restore it to its prime, you will need to use a stimulant, such as topical lotions or laser therapy to help it on its way,’ says Sally-Ann.
HAIR IN YOUR 50’S
The menopause has an inevitable impact on hair and if you have a genetic predisposition for hair loss (rather than other causes such as stress or iron deficiency) then this is when it will become apparent. However, if your hair loss is related to iron deficiency then stopping your periods can actually help you maintain your iron stores and should have a positive effect.
Actress Carrie Fisher, whose hair and bagel bun style became iconic when she played Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise, is soon to turn 60 but her hair has remained full and thick. She had changed her colour as she has aged to a lighter tone which more easily incorporates grey.
‘With post-menopausal hair loss, you don’t tend to see hair falling away excessively; your scalp becomes more visible particularly at the front and not as manageable as it once was. The earlier this is treated the better, treatment is based more around keeping what you’ve got and improving it to some degree, rather than restoring your hair to how it was in your 20’s and 30’s.
‘Supplements do not appear to cause a marked improvement in this type of hair loss. Stimulants can really help, of which there are two types; lotions or lasers. Lotions are applied once or twice a day; the pros are they arequite cost effective, the cons are that they are usually applied after drying your hair which then can make it feel tacky and stick together, causing the hair to appear thinner than it really is.
‘Laser therapy is a good long term solution, light at a specific wavelength stimulates circulation and nutrients to the hair follicle, stimulating and regulating hair growth,’ says Sally-Ann.
HAIR IN YOUR 60’S
Sally-Ann says if you’ve made it through to your 60’s without experiencing any hair loss, like actress Meryl Streep, then you should be congratulated, as not many women do.
Lots of us in this decade opt for short pixie haircuts or go for longer, softer styles and up dos. Hairdressers warn against cuts with hard lines, such as an A-line bob, which can look a bit severe once we’re past a certain age.
‘In this decade and beyond, the same happens with our hair as our skin, it ages. Each strand of hair becomes slightly finer so will give less scalp coverage. Hair treatments become less effective and more limited, as many are contra-indicated to other health conditions and medications common in the over 60’s. It is essential we look after our hair. We spend thousands on anti-ageing for our face, but give very little thought to our hair, which also goes through the ageing process.’
Sally-Ann who works with Theradome, a home laser therapy gadget, recommends using the LH80 Pro Laser Helmet, although it will set you back £749.
She says: ‘You can just put it on your head while you’re watching the TV or working on your laptop. The cons are that the initial outlay is high, but the lasers are designed to last around 5,000 hours so it should last you a very long time.’
Need further advice? Contact Expert Trichologist Sally-Ann herself via our website Theradome GB website.
Article Credit: Matilda Battersby for Mail Online