Healthy Hair: Your 50s and Beyond
Deep-condition if you've gone gray. Gray or silver hair, although beautiful, may be drier and more prone to breakage and sun damage than pigmented hair. Protect it by getting a deep-conditioning treatment (ask for one that includes sunscreen) at a salon once a month or by using a moisturizing product like Frederic Fekkai's All Day Hair-Plump ($95) to keep hair hydrated and more pliable.
Eat orange foods. In your 50s, antioxidants can help your hair cope with hormonal changes. And a good way to get them is by eating orange foodslike sweet potatoes and carrotssays Ranella Hirsch, MD, a Boston-based dermatologist and president of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery. These foods also help protect your body from the sun and seal moisture into hair, which maintains the natural oils in your scalp. While your locks may not look and feel exactly like they did in your 20s, "you can move things back in a favorable direction," Dr. Hirsch says.
Get your thyroid checked. Hypothyroidism, which affects 1 in 50 women and is most common in women over 50, occurs when your body does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Symptoms of this disorder include obesity and heart disease, but it can also result in a thinner head of hair, says Heather Wickless, MD, MPH, professor of dermatology at Northwestern University and a dermatologist specializing in hair disorders at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. If you notice that your hair is thinning, ask your doctor for a thyroid-function test, an accurate and easy way to figure out if you're in danger. Hypothyroidism is easily treated with synthetic thyroid supplements prescribed by your doctor.
Remove unwanted hair. During menopause, estrogen levels plummet, so it's likely that a few extra hairs will show up on your chin, upper lip, underarms, and abdomen. But you don't have to live with the new growth. Laser hair removal is about 70 percent effective in zapping all the hair in a given area, though you'll need touch-ups every few months. Make sure you have it performed by a licensed aesthetician or physician, preferably at a dermatologist's office. Or, ask your doctor about hormone supplementation, which can ease menopausal symptoms like excess hair growth. The cheapest, easiest fix? Pick up some bleaching cream, like Sally Hansen's Fast and Gentle Créme Hair Bleach for Face ($5), and use it as needed.
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