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How Hair Ages

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Like other parts of your body, your hair has a lifecycle too. Obvious changes occur as you get older; in fact, those first few gray hairs seem to act as a milestone for aging in general. Less obvious are some of the other changes that take place as the years pass.

When you’re a baby, your systems aren’t yet in balance due to residual hormones that your mom shared with you during pregnancy. Many infants’ hair falls out, meaning you may regress from having an adorable silky fringe to looking like a cue ball. Your follicles—the little skin pockets that contain the roots of your hair—should be active again by your first birthday.

It will come as no surprise to learn that childhood is the best time for your hair. When you’re young, you have more hair follicles than you’ll ever have again, thus, the most hair. Assuming your diet is fairly good, your hair will likely be in tip-top condition as well, not having experienced the trauma that dyes, other chemicals and styling implements can cause. Your hair color may be lighter than it will be later, as melanin producing cells have not yet fully matured.

You already know about the raging hormones of the teen years. These also affect your hair, causing changes in texture, color and, most noticeably, increased sebum (oil) production.

Your twenties is a good time for your hair. Although you don’t have as much hair as you did a few years ago, your hair still grows quickly. And with hormones now settling down, your hair should feel and look healthy with enough sebum producing glands working to give it a nice shine without making it overly oily.

In your 30’s and 40’s, your hair undergoes changes that mirror the way your body is maturing. As your hormone levels gradually decrease, your hair’s growth also slows and hair shafts become thinner. Gray hair starts to show up as melanin production diminishes. Although each new gray strand you discover may seem wiry or even kinky, gray hair isn’t fundamentally different from the rest of your hair except in color. The aging processes that cause many women’s hair to seem more brittle and dry are actually happening all over your head.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.