Ever noticed that your hair looks or feels different just a bit different than it did when you were, say, 16? Maybe it's a bit curlier than it used to be, or darker, or coarser. No cause for concern—changes to your natural locks aren't just possible over time, but totally normal, thanks to factors like hormones, genetics, and just plain old aging.
But what specifically can you expect? Keep reading to find out the crazy ways your hair can change with age—and how to maintain your healthiest locks for years to come.
But what many people may not realize is that aside from losing hair pigment altogether, just the tone of the color can change over time. This is also due to genetics, as different gene expressions for hair color can actually shift throughout life. Most commonly, hair grows darker with time (which might explain why you no longer have the platinum blond strands you did as a toddler).
After a few editors at Byrdie HQ noted that their hair had gotten a few more kinks over the years, we took the observation straight to the experts. "We often see that hair may become curlier or wavier with age," agrees Redken ambassador Heather Packer, who works as a stylist at Cutler Salon in New York City.
The crazy thing about this is while hair gurus and scientists alike have acknowledged that this is definitely something that happens, they're not quite sure why—though some guess that it has to do with hormonal changes affecting gene expression.
Graying, hormones, and over-processing hair can all roughen up and dry out the cuticles of your hair, leaving your locks feeling wiry and straw-like over time. The good news about this is that there are simple changes you can make to your regimen that will help combat all of this. (More on that below.)
Aside from losing hair (which happens to both men and women, BTW), each strand can actually thin out, thanks to loss of pigment and protein (which make up the bulk of the hair shaft) over time.
Hair health begins with a well-nourished scalp, and the scalp itself tends to become drier over time—which can in turn accelerate the aging of your strands (and hair loss). A 2006 study points to both intrinsic factors, like genetics and hormones, as well as external elements, such as air pollution and sun damage, all of which can wreak havoc on your scalp health.
No crazy prescription or drastic measures to see here: Prolonging an illustrious mane is all about simple TLC and not exposing your locks to too much wear and tear. That means taking a breather between bleaching and coloring sessions, selecting products wisely (by which we mean as gentle and low-chemical as possible), and going for regular trims and the occasional hydrating treatment. Stretching out time between shampoos is never a bad idea, either.
Plus, there are a few products you should consider rotating into your routine to target specific issues. "Stimulating the scalp with specific products, oil, and massage are helpful to combat hair loss, scalp elasticity, and hair texture," says Packer. Pick a hydrating treatment, growth serum, or even just plain coconut oil and designate a night each week to give yourself a nice head massage. Plus, Packer also recommends taking biotin supplements to maintain hair health from the inside out (which will have anti-aging effects on skin and nails, to boot).
And please take note: Since hormones tend to play a huge role in hair changes over time, if you ever notice excessive hair loss or any other kind of imbalances, it may be a good idea to pay your doc a visit.
What are some changes you've noticed with your hair over time? Tell us in the comments below!