We live in society that is obsessed with aging. Every day we are bombarded with hundreds of products, treatments and tips that promise to keep wrinkles away from our skin. So it was only a matter of time before someone came up with an anti-aging shampoo or conditioner. Pantene, Nexxus and Redken all have anti-aging lines, and more brands are bound to follow in their footsteps soon.
But the idea of anti-aging hair care has always seemed silly to me. We all know that hair is dead. How can you prevent or reverse the aging process of something that’s dead? And yet, hair does age. It becomes grey and dry. And while hair care products can’t help the former, they can the latter. But do you really need an anti-aging product for that?
How hair ages
The colour in your hair, just like that in your skin, is caused by melanin. As we age melanocytes (the cells that produce melanin) die. Less pigment cells means a loss in hair colour. Another culprit is hydrogen peroxide, a by-product of metabolism generated in small amounts throughout the human body, including in hair follicles. As we age, the amount of hydrogen peroxide increases and catalyse, the enzyme that breaks it down, can’t keep up with it anymore. Genetics also play a part.
Now, the pigment in hair has an important job: it protects it from UV rays. So, when it disappears, the sun’s rays can easily break down the proteins found in your hair, which help keep it healthy and moisturized. When this happens, hair becomes dry and dull, and it just looks awful.
So, do age-defying hair care products work?
Yes and no. Hair care products can’t do anything for your hair colour. No shampoo or conditioner on the market will prevent your hair from becoming grey (although, how wonderful would that be?). But what they can do, if they contain silicones, amino acids or certain oils, is to treat dryness. Coconut oil and olive oil, for instance, can penetrate hair, moisturizing it from within, while silicones coat each strand, binding moisture in. This makes hair look healthy.
But you don’t really need a special product to do that. Any hair care product with these ingredients will have the same effect. Leave-in products work even better. That’s because most of the goodies in shampoos and rinse-off conditioners just end up down the drain when you wash them out of your hair.
The bottom line
Anti-aging hair care products can’t prevent or reverse the aging process. What they can do is simply treat one its symptoms: dryness. And that’s something that any conditioning hair care product does, so there is no need for you to splurge on one that’s labelled anti-aging.
Do you use age-defying hair care products?