6 how-tos for younger-looking hair
Use less shampoo
Over-sudsing your hair strips away lipids that boost shine and prevent breakage—and that's especially problematic as your scalp's lipid count starts to drop (which can happen after menopause). "At that point, you really only have to shampoo hair at the roots," says hairstylist Nathaniel Hawkins. Always choose moisturizing or color-protecting shampoos, which will do the least damage. To keep strands shiny, be sure to rinse thoroughly, for about a minute. "People don't realize how dulling shampoo residue can be," says dermatologist Francesca Fusco.
Go easy on wet hair
You know that hair is most fragile when it's wet, which is why you'd never rub it with a towel. (Right?) Older hair is already more fragile, and combing it right out of the shower is also trouble. So detangle in the shower with a wide-tooth comb while you still have conditioner in your hair. And once or twice a week, slather on a creamy deep-conditioning treatment with essential oils, like sunflower and coconut (both found in Carol's Daughter Monoi (Repairing) Hair Mask) from the midshaft down. Or, if your hair went limp just reading that, apply a pre-shampoo oil in the shower to fine hair instead, like Kérastase Elixir Ultime Oléo-Complexe.
Turn down the heat
Dullness, dryness, flyaways, and frizz are all compounded by blow-dryers, flatirons, and curling irons. You could stop heat-styling altogether and start wearing sweatpants every day. Or you could upgrade to less-damaging models: ionic blow-dryers with 2,000-plus watts, ceramic irons, or the Coolway System, which straightens hair without going over 300 degrees. While you're at it, use a heat-protective spray before styling: "It coats hair with a layer of silicone—and that's the only thing protecting your hair," says Hawkins. Try John Frieda Full Repair Style Revival Heat-Activated Styling Spray.
Guard your color
Here goes—three easy changes you can make in under 15 minutes: Stop minerals and chlorine in tap water from fading color by popping a filter on your showerhead. Avoid products with alcohol listed as one of the top five ingredients, since they can dry out hair, says hairstylist Garren. And mist on an SPF for your hair, like Shiseido Refreshing Sun Protection Spray for Body/Hair Broad Spectrum SPF 15, in the summer. Hawkins also recommends using an at-home gloss treatment, like Clairol Natural Instincts Shine Happy Clear Shine Treatment, once a month. "It goes inside damaged hair to make it lie flat and leaves a clear deposit on the outside of the hair to reflect light," he says.
Tight ponytails, braids, topknots, and towel turbans—anything that puts stress on your roots—are a bad idea. They lead to breakage, which can make you look like you have a receding hairline. Instead, think about adding texture to hair. "A little volume makes your hair look healthier," says hairstylist Serge Normant. "But there's height, and then there's height. Too much near the face is aging." Avoid products that make your hair stiff, like gels or high-alcohol mousses, and go easy on the strong-hold hair spray.
Don't lose it
Almost half of Caucasian women suffer hair loss by the time they're 50, says Lisa Ishii, an assistant professor of facial plastic surgery and reconstructive surgery at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. If you're experiencing hair loss, shampoo regularly with a low-pH formula, such as Neutrogena Clean Volume Shampoo. "Oils that build up around the follicle may cause vulnerable roots to shut down faster," says Bahman Guyuron, chairman of the plastic surgery department at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland. And contrary to hair lore, brushing won't make you bald. "Hair loss is a problem at the root—it has nothing to do with the physical things we do to our hair," says Guyuron. That includes styling, straightening, and coloring (finally, a bit of good news).