It used to be 40 – the age when it was incumbent upon anyone with long hair to cut it short. And as I’m 60, by rights, I should have done the deed decades ago. Yet while mine’s not as long as it used to be, it’s still below my shoulders, and I’m not about to chase to the cut, especially as I like to wear it in an updo.
I concede that it is thinner than it was in my youth. But thinner how, exactly? It’s not like I see lots more hair left in the brush. I consult my mane man, Glenn Lyons, clinical director of the Philip Kingsley Trichological Clinic, London.
‘When you’re talking about natural ageing rather than specific problems with hair loss, two factors usually come into play,’ he says. ‘One is that the anagen – or growing – phase tends to shorten as you age, so hair doesn’t have the chance to grow as long as it used to; this is why hair may feel thinner throughout the lengths. The second is that the diameter of each follicle decreases, which means the hair shaft itself isn’t as thick.’
I learn that the first rule of haircare I need to change is to brush up on my understanding of, well, brushing. Apparently, anything with dense bristles, where each tuft is arranged in varying lengths, can cause hair to stretch as it’s pulled over them – this tugging exerts unnecessary stress.
‘While I totally appreciate these kind of brushes are useful when you’re heat styling – we even offer as-kind-as-possible versions at Philip Kingsley – when you’re simply brushing to refresh hair in the day or before bed, look for those with single prongs,’ Lyons says. That way, the hair is able to sink to the cushion of the brush and glide through more easily.’ The Philip Kingsley Vented Paddle Brush, £25, below, and Vented Grooming Brush, £20, are top choices.
Rule two: rethink your shampoo and conditioner. After all, you wouldn’t use teenage skincare products in middle age. Same goes for hair. So look for shampoos and conditioners with plumping agents.
Kérastase Densifique Bain Densité shampoo, which contains hyaluronic acid, gluco-peptides and ceramides to strengthen and promote elasticity has been a game-changer, leaving my hair feeling fuller and even, dare I say it, a little bit younger. It’s so tempting if you want more volume to forgo conditioner, but supple hair is always going to be healthier in the long run. In the same range, Fondant Densité (£31.15) delivers oomph without the built-in wilt of heavy conditioners.
Grey hair tends to be coarser and when you’re older, if your scalp is producing less sebum, it’s prone to dryness. I don’t have it (yet) but my sources whisper that although it’s not specifically for grey hair, Kevin Murphy’s Blonde.Angel (£25) with its cocktail of nourishing seed oils, delivers a taming touch of heavenly softness.
Lastly, lay off the heat-styling as much as you can and embrace products that protect, inject lift and build volume. The upshot is I now ration the hairdryer and tongs to when I’m going out and I’ve abandoned the naked (no-product) blow-dry. Having heard mousse is back with a bang, as if to prove it, hair supremo Larry King has launched My Nanna’s Mousse in homage to his grandmother’s blow-drys. He’s nailed it. Call it the bounce-back factor. You see, Nanna knows best.
This week I am mostly...
Envying Jennifer Connelly’s natural, not overdone, older-woman beauty in Top Gun: Maverick. And oh, that tousled hair – best it’s ever looked (IMHO).
Enjoying Susanne Kaufmann’s Hyaluron Body Gel (£48.50, Liberty London). Not an everyday indulgence but gorgeous kept on ice for a special holiday treat.
Eschewing mascaras with big, beefy brushes. Give me a slimmer wand for slick separation and a finessed look. I’ve used Max Factor Masterpiece High Definition Mascara (£11.99, Boots) for many a year.