How Old Is Your Hair?

Sam McKnight

Though it makes obvious sense when you think about it, concerning oneself with the age of ones hair is not something many of us do. But brands like L’Oréal Paris, Pantene and Nexxus -- who always know what we should worry about before we do -- are introducing hair-care lines designed to address symptoms of hair getting older.

Last November, Pantene introduced the Expert Age Defy range (not available in India as yet), designed to negate the symptoms of hair aging with technology derived from Olay’s anti-aging skin-care experts.

"They have been testing their technology for a decade now and they’ve found that certain ingredients suit the needs of aging hair," says Pantene’s global hair expert Sam McKnight.

We asked McKnight and principal scientist at Pantene, Dr. Steve Shiel, to help us wrap our heads around the concept.

Does hair really age?

“Not many of us think about the way in which our age affects our hair,” explains Dr. Shiel. “In fact our hair does age -- both as we age as an individual (what we call chronological ageing), and as the hair fibre grows from root to tip (what we call 'weathering')."

Is hair aging similar to skin aging?

“Just like our skin, the ageing process is controlled by both internal factors (such as our genetic disposition to ageing or hormone levels), and also the external factors that our hair is exposed to (like UV-radiation, mechanical damage and chemical damage),” says Dr. Shiel.

On skin we see wrinkles, age spots. On hair the signs are?

“Hair grows differently as we get older, and it’s not just the grey colour that gives away aging. There are quite a few signs like breakage, dryness, split ends, unruly greys, lacklustre colour, thinning and damage,” says McKnight.

Is it possible to reverse the damage done?

“Ageing is a natural biological process that happens to us all and is controlled by our genetics – this is something that cosmetic products can’t do anything to reverse,” says Dr. Shiel. “But on the other hand, you can use cosmetic products to combat the effects of the ageing process (lack of fullness, shine and smoothness and so on) to leave hair looking, feeling and behaving young.”

How is Pantene’s anti-aging line different from regular hair care products?

“Products designed for damaged hair impact the wear and tear of hair over time, whereas the Expert Collection Age Defy has been specially formulated to meet the complex needs of aging hair from the moment it grows out of the scalp,” explains McKnight.

Since this range was created in conjunction with skin care specialists, scan the ingredients list and you’ll spot many components like caffeine, niacinamide (Vitamin B3), and panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5) that you usually find in anti-aging skin products, “plus triple-active blends and two polymeric fortifiers, [to] thicken the hair fibres”. 

-Jerusha Ratnam Chande

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