Middle-aged lady with curly hair, wearing glasses

Not to add fuel to the fear-of-aging-fire, but concentrating only on your skin may not be the holy grail of youth.

Hair goes through its own unwelcome transformation as the years pass, and while grays are the most obvious sign of aging hair, evidence shows that individual strands also change in texture. Yes, your previously smooth-growing strands may start to emerge from your scalp in a more wavy and kinky way.

Seriously, what’s next on the aging agenda?


QUIZ: How Old's Your Hair? 


A study found a statistically significant increase in individual hair curvature between ages ten to 60, which also leads to a loss of luster and smoothness. Put plainly, you could expect your hair to become frizzier and less shiny, usually starting around your fourth decade. “It’s unclear why this happens,” says Jeni Thomas, senior scientist at Procter & Gamble. “This is one of the age-related hair changes that is least understood, although studies indicate the change does happen.” While the study focused on Japanese women, Thomas says the results suggest that these unwelcome changes can affect all ethnicities.

Any woman who is suddenly plagued by renegade flyaways that are rough to the touch would agree.

This whole new growth pattern situation, paired with the fact that the natural production of scalp oils decreases every year, can lead to un-pretty results for your head. But enough with the bad-news-bears stuff, all anyone wants to know is how to fight the frizz. Thomas says it’s all about moisture. “Without hair’s natural oils, it can feel rough and dry and more prone to damage. Cut down on damaging styling habits like flat-ironing and chemical treatments, and use conditioners as far up the hair fiber as you can,” she says.


MORE: We Tried It: Frizz Busters


Frederic Fekkai stylist Anthony Sorensen, who tends to the hair of the ultimate grand dame Martha Stewart, says the key is to restore and retain moisture so hair looks and feels more soft and smooth. “Anti-aging” hair products may sound like BS, but legit ones like the Pantene Expert Collection Age Defy line are formulated to provide hydration and protection without weighing hair down. “Avoid anything that’s high in ammonia and alcohol because those ingredients are drying, and instead look for products with moisturizing ingredients such as olive oil,” says Sorensen. Make friends with masks and leave-in conditioners, and be sure to apply moisturizing products before heat styling.

According to her trusty stylist, Ms. Martha thinks the Fekkai Salon Technician line is a good thing because it hydrates and prevents brassiness, whether you’re gray or you’ve colored your hair. Speaking of dye, Sorensen says that going darker can be conditioning for the hair, but lighter shades and highlights can be quite drying, so keep that in mind before committing to a blonde lifestyle.

With increased kinks and frizz, even the straightest of hair becomes less manageable and you’ll find that it doesn’t lay the same way as it did in your youth. Wash-and-go gals might have to tweak their styling regimen to include smoothing blowouts and more volume at the roots to mask the “puffiness” that comes with irregular texture. But all hope is not lost. With a bit of effort you’ll find that gorgeous, healthy hair isn’t only for recent college grads—think Julianne Moore, Brooke Shields and Courteney Cox, who aren’t Hollywood ingénues but have the kind of hair every woman covets.


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