One day, you might wake up and discover a springy gray interloper has somehow made itself at home in your mane. While grays are one of the quintessential signs of getting older (and nothing to freak out about, by the way) there are plenty of other interesting things that happen to your hair as you age.
It turns out that in addition to giving us an idea of when our hair will turn gray, genetics can act as a crystal ball for how age will shift our hair follicle production, too.
“Our follicles produce less hair as we age," says Julien Farel, a master hair stylist and pioneer of anti-aging hair care in an email to Bustle. "As we mature, hair becomes brittle, thin and dull. If you look at your grandmother’s hair, it will give you an indication of your future hair condition.”
Along with affecting our follicles, aging radically alters our hormone balances, which in turn alters the texture and structure of individual hairs.
“Some women experience a change in hair texture after birth and most women feel the change during and after menopause,” Farel says. “Generally speaking, hair becomes finer as the diameter of the hair reduces with age."
For curly hair, things are a bit more specific. “Curly hair is constantly changing,” Amanda Troisi, a Julien Farel Salon stylist and curly hair expert writes in an email to Bustle. “As every inch of hair grows, the hair pattern changes.” And since hair grows at a rate of four to six inches per year, that’s a ton of change.
“Our curls tend to drop or loosen as we get older because of one thing: gravity,” Troisi writes. “By keeping your curls constantly moisturized and getting regular trims your curls will still have a bounce as your age. Another option is to go for a shorter haircut. This will help your curls spring back to life."
To keep follicles healthy, Farel recommends his Hydrate Restore Hair Treatment, which contains hyaluronic acid, Echinacea stem cell extracts, and bioflavonoids to keep your hair and scalp nourished and hydrated.
“[T]he application of Restore is unique in that it is applied directly to the scalp and massaged in to stimulate the follicles,” he writes. He adds, “We also recommend Nutrafol hair vitamins and Woman’s Rogaine but those work best on a daily regimen and you should consult a doctor prior to usage.”
Though age will naturally change our hair no matter what, Farel says we take note of modern hair stressors to avoid if we want to keep our hair from prematurely aging.
“Our generation has access to do more with their hair than previous generations,” he writes. “Think about all the different colors of hair dye, straightening treatments, and hair tools that we go through! Our lifestyle, environment and hormones (modern day stress included) have accelerated the aging process of hair.”
Being aware that your hair is getting older and treating it accordingly is the key to helping your locks bear the weight of aging. “We are always thinking about putting our best face forward," Farel says. "But the hair that frames the face is just as important and most people don’t think about it until it’s too late.”
While there's nothing you can do about the passage of time, you can definitely keep your hair looking fierce throughout the decades.