How Old Does Your Hair Look?

Jo Abbie
How old does your hair look?

Photos: Getty Images

Modern life is rough on our hair. Most of us torture our locks on a daily basis — drying, straightening, styling — and this can age our hair beyond its years. Just like the skin, over-treating can strip the hair of its youthful looking qualities — shine, volume and bounce.

But it’s not just the state of our strands that can age us. The wrong style can also give us “mom hair” or — at the other end of the spectrum — make us look like we’re auditioning for the role of Pippi Longstocking back in grade school.

We spoke to some experts about how to look after our locks and keep them looking young and fresh.

Choose A Style That’s Youthful — Not Childish

Jacqueline Bush is a celebrity hair stylist and Creative Director of the recently opened Assembly styling salon in Los Angeles, which boast’s LA’s first braid and ponytail bar. Inspired by the braiding trend that we’ve seen explode via street style, red carpet and runway hair, a modern braid can offer an edgy new style for all ages. “When developing the braid menu at Assembly Salon, I worked to create looks that every woman can wear at pretty much any age. I think the key to not looking like a schoolgirl is to make the style look more undone,” Bush explains. “We’re sure to work in texture and piecey-ness, so it totally works as a sophisticated, cool-girl style. You can never go wrong with a classic braid that’s slightly undone to add a little bit of edge.”

Another look to consider: bangs. On the right face shape, bangs can offer a look that screams young and stylish — think of Zooey Deschanel and Jessica Biel. But who can forget when outspoken Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld dismissed Michelle Obama’s blunt new bangs as too reminiscent of a TV news anchor? “If you have the right forehead, bangs are great!” says Bush. “They can really freshen up long hair and give a new look without cutting much length. However, the way they are cut matters a lot! There is a fine line between news anchor and modern, edgy, and fresh.”

Celebrity hairstylist Angelo David of Angelo David Salon in Manhattan, agrees. “Opting for bangs is a great option to create a more youthful look,” he says. He recommends less blunt-edged bangs with a softer finish. “I would advise to side toward the wispy bangs, as opposed to blunt bangs, which can be a bit hard and aging.”

Keep Hair Healthy

Damaged hair can look dried out and dull — a sure way to add years to your look. But shampoo and conditioner alone isn’t always enough to counteract all the damage we do to our hair.

For those who must straighten or heat-style their hair daily, taking the time to pre-spritz can really help save those stresssed stands. “If styling is unavoidable, make sure you always use  a hair protectant, such as the Angelo David Zero Frizz Control, to minimize damage brought on by exposure to hot tools,” David recommends.

Products that help shield the hair from heat damage or help repair damaged strands are a great way to keep the hair looking young, healthy and glossy as opposed to dull, flat and lifeless. “I love the Rene Furterer Oil Complex 5,” says Bush. “It strengthens the hair follicle and improves any hair treatment you do after — it is fantastic!”

Some people believe that washing their hair less often can actually help improve its condition, but that’s not the case, say the experts. “The sebum (oil) glands in your scalp adapt to however often you wash your hair,” says Bush. “I used to tell my clients to wash their hair every 3 to 4 days. Now I tell them every other day. I subscribe to the belief that healthy hair comes from a healthy scalp, and part of that is washing regularly.”

Dr. David Kingsley, PhD, is a board-certified trichologist (trichology is the study of the hair and scalp) who worked with L’Oréal Paris when they recently launched their Advanced Hair Care line of products. The new line features five tailored hair care systems that allows users to pick and choose products best suited their hair type and condition: Total Repair 5 (damaged); Smooth Intense (frizz); Power Moisture (dry); Color Vibrancy (colored); and Triple Resist (breakage). Dr. Kingsley agrees that it’s not about how often you wash, it’s about using the right products. “Wash your hair as often as you want. Just use a shampoo and conditioner that is formulated for your hair condition.”

Angelo David also emphasizes the importance of using a shampoo and conditioner suited to your hair type and concerns. “Using the right shampoo and conditioner that can lock in moisture and protect color is important to keep your hair’s healthy glow. Pureology’s Hydrate line will give back the moisture and protection your hair very much needs.”

The Skinny on Thin Hair

Many women experience hair loss or thinning as they get older — but chemical treatments can also cause hair to start thinning prematurely, according to certified trichologist Melissa Harvey of Bio Follicle, a natural hair treatment system that helps to prevent hair loss. “When chemicals are applied to hair, it softens and breaks the bonds that holds the hair shaft together. When a client’s hair texture is not taken into consideration before the chemical strength is selected, permanent damage can be done to the hair follicle and hair shaft. Thinning is a result of the damage from the chemical treatment, if the hair follicle was permanently damaged.”

Scalp health is also a big factor when it comes to hair growth, Harvey explains. “A leading cause of hair loss is poor blood circulation to the root of our hair follicles. The synthesis of hair requires a lot of vitamins and nutrients, and our blood source is the carrier of these required vitamins and nutrients. If the roots of our hair do not have an ample supply of blood, hair follicles stop producing hair.” Products, such as the Bio Follicle Hair Support System treatment spray, contain all natural ingredients that can help to stimulate the hair follicles and promote hair growth. Garnier’s Fall Fight line was designed to combat hair fallout (less in the drain, and the hairbrush) and features a shampoo, conditioner and leave-in treatment spray that helps prevent breakage and hair loss.

Tools for Healthy Hair

It’s not just spray-on treatments that can be used to improve scalp and hair health — something as simple as the right hairbrush can also help, says David. “It all boils down to having the proper tools to keep your hair looking youthful and bouncy. A great brush with nylon and boar bristle, like the Angelo David paddle brush, can keep your hair smooth while conditioned in every stroke.”

Bush says her number one tip for keeping hair looking young and healthy is deceptively simple. “Healthy diet and lifestyle, heat protection, and a proper shampoo and conditioner, which is easier said than done!”

Read more: 10 Hairstyles That Can Make You Look 10 Years Younger