The Beauty Industry Thinks Your Hair Is Old

Photographed by Lauren Perlstein.
For those holding a tight grip on the idea of youthful skin, the recent boom of anti-aging products has been a godsend. Today, there's no shortage of things that promise to tighten, lift, and plump — basically any verb that sounds like it belongs in a '90s workout video. And, as this Peter Pan syndrome continues, so does the range of anti-aging products. We've got anti-aging makeup, lip and hand treatments, and, most recently, the time-stopping trend has reached the hair-care market. Lately, we've been seeing an influx of products that promise to fight both the color and hair-density loss that comes with age.

But, before believing the hype, we had some serious doubts about the latest addition to the anti-aging craze. Sure, your scalp is an extension of your skin, but does it really need its own antioxidant-rich regimen? And, if gray hair is genetic, can a product have any control over our DNA? An even bigger concern: Isn't hair dead? All questions that needed answers.

So, we tapped some trusted hair pros to weigh in on this new hair-care trend. Turns out there may be some method to the madness. "Hair is very much alive," says Carlos K. Wesley, MD, a NYC-based specialist in medical and surgical treatments for hair loss. "Hair is constantly being built and reborn, and even when it falls out, there are new strands already growing back in. That being said, each time hair grows back in, it grows back a little bit finer."
Photographed by Lauren Perlstein.
Dr. Wesley says that the hair grows in bundles of four, and the growth cycle spans about seven years. Each cycle, the number of bundles decreases by one, eventually amounting to one strand per bundle. This explains the thinning many women experience in later years. Though it's true that some anti-aging products can make your hair seem fuller, Dr. Wesley says that they cannot change the innate structure of your hair. "If you put one of your hair strands under an electron microscope, you'll see tons of small scales on it," he says. "Volumizing products open up those scales, adding a little more fullness to the hair."

Developlus
hair-care expert and vice president of marketing, Helen Christoni, says the brand's new anti-aging treatment uses protein as the core ingredient for its volumizing effect. "Proteins go in and rebuild the hair follicle," she says. She recommends consumers use the treatment for 14 days. "For the ultimate benefit, you should replace your hair routine with the treatment. If you use it consistently for two weeks, you'll see tremendous hair health."

Anti-aging products can also temporarily treat dullness, another downside of the aging process. "Products that claim to offer hair shine, flatten those same scales, allowing light to reflect off of the strand, and ultimately giving it a shine," says Dr. Wesley. Yep, it's all an optical illusion. If you're looking to add a glossy finish to lackluster hair, try Living Proof Timeless shampoo and conditioner.

However, there are some symptoms of aging that no topical product can tackle. "Treatment for dry and brittle hair really has to be done through ingestion," says Dr. Wesley. Biotin, or vitamin H, has become a cult-favorite supplement amongst women looking to strengthen their hair and nails. Dr. Wesley is a fan. "Biotin can help strengthen your hair through increased keratin production. It's a really safe supplement that a lot of women benefit from."
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Photographed by Lauren Perlstein.
But Biotin may not be the magic pill for everybody. "In some cases, you can do more harm than good with Biotin, because you can develop cystic acne from the supplement," says Yolanda M. Lenzy, MD, MPH, dermatologist and owner of Massachusetts-based Lenzy Dermatology & Hair Loss Center. Be sure to consult with a doctor before deciding to give it a try.

Though the jury is still out on preventing and reversing grays, the idea that your scalp could use its own skin-care regimen isn't far off. "When women reach their 40s, they experience redness, onset of rosacea, and flaky, dry skin," says Christoni. "It happens all over your body, not just your face, so you may see experience a flaky scalp, as well." The three-step Developlus treatment offers a clarifying component that addresses those issues. "If you're comparing [the treatment] to skin care, step one would be, like, your toner, step two would be your moisturizer, and step three has a sealing effect, like a serum."

In the end, the good news is, no matter if these products are actually "anti-aging" your hair or not, most are formulated with ingredients that are beneficial for anyone on the search for strong, full, and healthy hair — and, who isn't?
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