9/27/2022 | By Donna Brody

Writer Donna Brody offers general tips on hair care for seniors, including changes in hair color and texture, products, style, and caring for the gray.

Never underestimate the power of a compliment. Just recently, a hotel clerk told me no less than three times over a four-day period how much she liked my haircut. Each time she complimented me, it boosted my mood for the rest of the day. As we get older, it may seem the compliments are fewer and far between, but does it have to be that way? Taking care of one’s hair is important at any age, and especially for those over 60. And, though hair care activities will require some time and money, striving to look your best does not have to mean a huge investment of either.

Many people over 60 book regular hair appointments, according to Ashley Dashiell of Dimensions Salon in North Carolina. “Most of my clients book several appointments (in advance) for something to do! Retirement age leaves many people feeling too free, having few things on the calendar other than trips to the doctor. It’s a healthy way to keep you looking your best and stay connected.”

In addressing hair care for seniors, Dashiell says it is important to change hair routine as we age. “What you used five or 10 years ago or the same old product you have been using forever on and off may do more harm than good,” she said. “The number one thing I see in the over-60 demographic is an unhealthy scalp, which usually leads to unhealthy hair or hair loss.”

Also, she added, “Wash your hair with a shampoo that is recommended to you based on your skin type and hair texture.” That doesn’t mean clients have to buy their products at the salon. As far as finding a budget-friendly option, she noted, there are many products available at every price range. “Just because your stylist or barber doesn’t retail a certain product doesn’t mean we don’t know about alternative options to the ones we love.”

Hair care for seniors: to gray or not to gray

Although many agree about a good haircut and a fresh style being an important part of hair care for seniors, not everyone is comfortable with using hair color and highlights to maintain a youthful look. Many people in their 50s and older prefer to let their hair gray naturally.

Related: 10 reasons to embrace the grays!

Gray hair presents its own set of challenges to a stylist, Dashiell believes. “Gray hair is always changing.”

senior woman at hair salon getting her hair cut. Photo by Tyler Olson, Dreamstime. Writer Donna Brody offers general tips on hair care for seniors, including changes in hair color and texture, products, style, and caring for the gray.

She noted that every client’s gray hair is different, as with younger clients. Some is frizzy; some grows less; some goes from curly to straight as it grays and some from straight to curly. And, she added, there are amazing styling products available for taming gray hair at every phase.

For most people, graying hair becomes coarser and thicker. “When your body stops generating melanin, hair goes gray, silver, or white, and follicles produce less sebum (which is the natural oil that hydrates hair),” explains colorist and R+Co Collective member, Richy Kandasamy. “As a result, gray hair tends to be drier, which gives it that wiry, dry, and stubborn texture. That will change depending on the individual and their natural hair texture.”

“One of the hardest things about gray hair is learning to let go of your favorite style,” Dashiell confided. “Most of the time it just doesn’t work anymore, and you will have to accept change. It doesn’t have to be drastic, but you will most likely need a slight shift or new style to accommodate your ever-changing gray, silver, or white hair.”

Related: The best foods for healthy nails and hair

Sometimes, notes Dashiell, “Gray hair turns yellow.” This is usually caused by external factors, such as shampoos and conditioners, chlorine, and sometimes sunlight, and it can be an essential part of managing hair care for seniors.

If you suspect your gray hair is yellowing, Dashiell suggests buying some purple shampoo and conditioner to keep your gray hair gray. This violet-tinted shampoo is said to counteract the brassy color of gray hair.

For those who don’t want to embrace those grays and opt to continue using hair color, Dashiell has some additional advice: avoid a harsh, dark color. “The darker the color the less reflection it has, looking dull, especially the highly pigmented gray coverage color. It’s not flattering to most skin tones, and, especially for those over 60, it can may you look ill,” she stated. “It is also harsh and damaging as you color your hair way more often than you should on already compromised hair.”

So, add a touch of lighter color or even eventually blond highlights to add dimension and soften your appearance, says Dashiell. “Choosing the proper color to enhance your skin tone is the best way to condition your gray, keep your youthful shine, and keep the neighbors guessing how young you really are!”

Highlights are also an option for those with gray hair, Dashiell said. “Highlights can be a fantastic way to enhance gray hair. Whether you want to deepen some of the white or brighten some of the darker gray, color can definitely make a drab gray really pop when placed correctly.” And, she said, this requires little to no maintenance in some cases – always a plus in hair care for seniors, or anyone at any age!

Related: When I am old, I will wear purple: coloring my outlook on aging

Finally, for those who have had to deal with dramatic hair loss due to chemotherapy, brain surgery, or other health issues, Dashiell says, “It’s a process, so be patient. Hair may change color. Hats and scarves are trendy accessories in lieu of a wig.” She noted that a person’s scalp will be extra sensitive as the hair begins to grow back, so though wigs are great to have on hand, they may not always be comfortable. It’s more important than ever, she notes, to gently wash the scalp to keep the follicles healthy and give them lots of time to breathe while hair is growing.

Changes are inevitable as we age and managing these changes positively can keep us healthier and happier, including hair care for seniors.

Donna Brody

Donna Brody is a former community college English instructor who retired to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She enjoys freelance writing and has self published three romance novels. Besides writing and traveling with her husband, she keeps busy visiting her seven grandchildren.

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