“Can you give me thinning hair that makes me look older?” said no woman ever to her stylist. Thick, vibrant hair is a hallmark of youth and vitality, which is why we all want it. Shampoo commercials promise us luscious locks—plus, watch any red carpet event, and you can bet that a majority of the celebs are rocking extensions in order to fake that fullness. “Many of our brides wear clip-on extensions for the same reason our celebrity clients wear them,” notes Lauren E. Hack, beauty guru at LAUREN+VANESSA, “because your hair will look amazing.”
Sadly, as we add more candles to the birthday cake, our hair can lose some of this lusciousness. “As we age, hair decreases in density and the individual hair strands become thinner,” says Tsippora Shainhouse, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills and a clinical instructor at the University of Southern California. Individual hair strands have a two to seven year life cycle, but as we get older, the hair follicle shrinks and the rate of hair growth slows down, says Shainhouse. “The hairs produced become much finer, until, eventually, the follicle can even stop producing new hairs,” she says. Yikes. Luckily, there are steps you can take to preserve your strands. Here are five ways to deal with thinning hair.
1. Fake It ‘Til You Make It
Those hair commercials aren’t all full of fluff. “Hair density can be hard to improve, but thickening and volumizing shampoos can help make hair appear fuller and can even make individual strands appear thicker,” says Shainhouse. She recommends using a shampoo like L’Oreal Volume Filler Thickening Shampoo ($5, ulta.com), which contains patented technology called Filloxane, to add some oomph.
2. Baby Your Strands
While we naturally lose 60 to 100 hairs a day, a regular routine of washing, blow-drying, straightening, and monthly highlights can be tough on your hair and cause you to shed more than needed—even more so as we get older. “Aging hair is less resilient and needs to be treated with more care,” says Shainhouse. She suggests reducing the use of harsh, drying chemicals and alcohol-based styling products, and adding in heat-protectant sprays when using heated hair tools.
3. Moisturize, Moisturize, Moisturize
You know how dry, alligator-skin legs don’t look as youthful as ÃƒÂ¼ber-moisturized ones? The same is true for your ‘do. “Reducing age-related hair dryness and brittleness can reduce hair breakage, which will also make hair appear less dense and thinner,” explains Shainhouse. Our scalps produces less natural oils as we age, so give your head a helping hand by using a moisturizing conditioner, hair mask, or oil treatment to help replenish oils to the hair shaft. One of our fave treatments: Ouai Treatment Masque ($32, sephora.com).
4. Pop a Pill
Though there isn’t a magic pill to automatically give you luscious locks, there are oral supplements that can help you build stronger, thicker hair over time. Shainhouse recommends looking for high-quality supplements of biotin, silica, or horsetail, which have been shown in studies to promote hair growth and fullness. One option is Viviscal ($47 for a one-month supply, walgreens.com).
5. See a Doc
While hair thinning is often age-related, it can also be a sign of a deficiency. “It is not uncommon for aging women to develop iron-deficiency anemia, thyroid disease, or have low vitamin D levels,” says Shainhouse. “Each of these conditions can contribute to hair thinning, loss, and poor hair growth.” Visit your dermatologist or primary care physician to do a blood test to check for these deficiencies.