From oily, greasy hair in our teen years to voluminous, shiny hair during pregnancy to thinning hair or male pattern baldness as we age; each transition of our life is affected by the natural shift of our hormones, and this has an effect on the health and strength of our scalp and hair. Let's take a look at how hormones can really affect our hair from the teenage years to 60 plus.
Sweet adolescence, that bit between childhood and adulthood where we go through pretty major changes physically, mentally and socially. As we all know, hormones are working overtime during puberty, which usually causes sebaceous glands to produce excessive oil, making the hair and scalp oily and greasy – just one more thing to deal with, and it’s not great for the self-esteem either. What can be done? If you are a teenager reading this or a teen parent, we have a couple of helpful tips to help you keep it under control:
If you wash daily, try cutting back to every second day. Over-washing actually dries out the scalp which will trigger your scalp to produce even more oil = more grease. You could try using a dry shampoo in between to refresh your hair and absorb excess oil.
Greasy hair brushes
If your hairbrush is full of hair, you’re transferring the grease from the brush back onto your clean head, so try and keep it clean.
Use a dedicated shampoo and conditioner for oily hair, this will help to manage the problem. Here are a couple of suggestions from Colleen :)
Yes it's a thing... we're looking at you, teenage boys. Bacteria, oil and dead skin cells are often the main culprits behind that smell. As you know, the skin on your scalp is similar to the skin on your body (aka it's all skin) and skin produces sweat and has oil glands, so any buildup of sebum and sweat creates a breeding ground for bacteria - this can affect anyone but is a bit more obvious during puberty when the sebaceous glands are producing excess oil on the scalp. Use a scalp balancing shampoo and conditioner and be sure to massage into the scalp to remove build-up! We recommend the Normal Persons range by Evo for a deep cleanse and it's fresh peppermint scent.
Ah, your twenties; a time of growth, stress, late nights, intense hormonal cycles, haircuts, colours, curling, straightening, and some career anxiety and turbulent relationships thrown in the mix, plus a whole lot of figuring shit out. So, how does all of this affect your hair? Overall, your hormone levels are actually reasonably stable during this time but there are a few factors that can lead to changes in hair and skin:
Did you know, having the right balance of oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone plays a part in the health of your hair? Taking the contraceptive pill can impact these levels – not hugely but the increase in testosterone can slow hair growth.
When you’re premenstrual you may find that alongside breakouts and congested skin, your hair feels a bit oilier or you’re prone to dandruff. Whatever the concern, using shampoo, conditioner or treatment to target them will help you manage it.
A stressful job, study or even an unbalanced diet can add stress to your body and make you feel run down, this could impact your hair too, causing changes in texture or thinning.
We all have different experiences during life and ageing is one of them - no two experiences are the same. With that being said, your hair might begin its natural transformation towards the shade of grey in your 30s. Greying can begin in your 20s, or for some, greys may not sprout until they reach their 40s. There are a couple of reasons for greying hair:
Our bodies respond differently to stress; whatever the cause may be. Studies have shown that stress causes the release of the chemical norepinephrine into the follicle - and this affects the melanocyte (melanin-producing) stem cells living there, causing them to rapidly turn into pigment cells and move on out of the hair follicles. So without these melanocyte cells, new hair turns grey or white.
Silvery strands are mainly caused by the decline of pigment cells, melanocytes, and are part of our natural ageing process, which is dictated by genetics. If you choose to colour the greys, there are some great products on the market that will protect and repair coloured hair or ones that will tone brassiness and enhance those sparkly greys.
If you become pregnant around this age – or at any age – there will be a sharp rise in oestrogen and progesterone in your first trimester and they will continue to rise throughout gestation. The increase will keep your hair in its growth phase for longer, so you may find that you shed less hair daily (we usually shed between 50-100 strands per day). The best thing about this is your hair will be thick, strong and luscious – dream hair!
Postpartum hair loss
From 1 - 6 months postpartum, many experience hair loss – rest assured this is usually the result of not shedding hair for so long. We recommend using a volumizing regime to plump up your postpartum locks, stimulate circulation in the scalp and strengthen your hair. Unfortunately, there are no supplements to prevent post-partum hair loss from happening but if you do have concerns, talk to your GP for advice.
Research has found that male pattern baldness is associated with male sex hormones called androgens. The natural ageing process causes the growth cycle of hair to begin to weaken and the hair follicles shrink, producing shorter and finer strands of hair. Eventually, the growth cycle for each hair ends and no new hair grows in its place. Studies show that 30% of Caucasian (white) males start showing signs of male pattern baldness in their 30s, and 50% will experience male pattern baldness in their 50s. However, male pattern baldness is less common among Asian and African American men. Some reasons for thinning hair include:
Male pattern balding is an inherited condition from either side of the family. It is caused by a genetically determined sensitivity to the effects of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in some areas of the scalp - this will shorten the growth/ anagen phase of the hair cycle.
Illness and medications
Some medications may disrupt your hair’s growth cycle, this could cause it to shed before it reaches its full length. Other medications may increase your production of hormones that cause male pattern baldness, such as DHT.
In your 40s, hormones begin to shift … again. During this decade in your life, you might become perimenopausal, and levels of oestrogen and progesterone will start to decrease. The lowered production of these hormones can affect your hair's texture and thickness. Some things you might start to notice are:
If your hair is thinner than it used to be, especially around your temples or perhaps it falls out easier, maintain a healthy scalp by giving it a good brush to keep the blood circulating to your follicles. It might seem counterproductive when you see loose strands in your brush but scalp health is key.
Dull, dry hair
It's pretty common to notice your hair becoming duller and your scalp a little drier in your 40s. Create an optimum environment for healthy hair with a scalp care regime. Soothing and nourishing your scalp will help your hair maintain its moisture balance for softer, shinier hair - and no more worrying about flakes.
As mentioned above, hair begins to lose its natural pigment from around your late 30s onwards. Your hair follicles produce less colour as they age, so when hair goes through its natural cycle of dying and being regenerated, it’s more likely to grow in grey, silver or white - which will become more apparent in your 50s.
If you decide to embrace grey hair, something to be mindful of is sun damage. Without the added protection of melanin in your hair, your scalp is susceptible to the suns UV rays so it’s important to use sun protection or cover your scalp when in the sun.
Embracing natural grey
Gently cleanse and keep grey hair looking bright and vibrant using a toning shampoo and conditioner. This will help keep brassy, yellow tones at bay. If you are thinking about transitioning to grey hair but feeling uncertain, check out this great feature 'How To Go Grey' by Lauren Gunn, click here.
In NZ the average age of menopause is 52, so from your late 40s - early 50s you may start experiencing symptoms. With a focus on your hair, what will happen as levels of oestrogen and progestogen drop, your hair will reach its telogen or ‘resting’ phase and growth begins to slow down. When this happens, the levels of androgens increase – these are a group of male hormones that shrink hair follicles, resulting in hair loss or thinning. If you take medication to control hormones, this can cause the texture of your hair to change too. The good news is that your hair will grow back! But keep in mind that stress, illness, genetics and lack of certain nutrients can also be a factor in changes to your hair during this time.
Add these nutrients to your diet to maintain healthy hair during Menopause:
- Protein-rich foods - To boost keratin production
- Vitamin C - To stimulate growth. Using products containing Vitamin C can help moisturize and repair your hair
- Vitamin A - For moisturising and keeping hair strong
- Vitamin B5 - To promote hair growth and can help with dandruff or an itchy scalp
- Zinc - A deficiency can lead to the breakdown of the protein structures in your hair follicle, which can lead to hair loss
Many men are often nearly bald by the age of 60 and will experience baldness at the temples and the top of their head. This is normal and relates to the function of testosterone and androgens in the body. Be sure to protect the newly exposed areas of your scalp with plenty of sunscreen and wear a hat when you are out in the wild outdoors.
By post-menopause, your hormones should be settled and will be stable– finally! Some concerns you might face are; thinning, hair loss or brittleness. Here's what you can do to maintain a healthy scalp and hair.
Thinning and brittleness
Aim to maintain supple scalp and hair. Give yourself regular scalp massages to stimulate blood flow to your scalp and use softening, strengthening haircare.