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The not-so-secret issues that are aging your hair

Aly Walansky is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City. She lives with her two Shorkie-Tzus, Scarlette and Max, and a display of pink polka-dot-themed home decor -- not to mention a selection of flavored vodka. Check out he...

Locks of youth

While long, luscious hair is often viewed as the mark of youth, what is a gal to do when her hair is showing signs of aging?
Woman with long hair

locks
of youth

While long, luscious hair is often viewed as the mark of youth, what is a gal to do when her hair is showing signs of aging?

If you're overusing your styling tools...

Don't cause damage to the hairs that exist. "Heat damage and chemical damage can cause bubbling inside the hair shaft, which not only disrupts the quality of its translucency, but also causes ruffling of the normally smooth outer cuticle, taking away the shine and making hair dull and sticky," says Jessica J. Krant, M.D., M.P.H., Founder of Art of Dermatology LLC. Most of the time, this damage is temporary and can be grown out and cut off, but if too much heat or chemical damage has happened to the scalp, follicles themselves can be permanently damaged.

This means avoid rough rubbing and brushing and overheating. Rather than vigorously towel drying, use a super absorbent microfiber hair towel. Use drying and styling tools minimally, and your hair will be your friend for a long time to come.

If you're not getting enough vitamins...

Our hair integrity — that's thickness, number of hairs, healthiness of hairs — is totally controlled by vitamins and minerals and healthy blood flow. If you are deficient in iron, selenium, copper, zinc, B12, vitamin D or biotin, not to mention possible other trace elements, you could be aging your hair. Eat right and take those vitamins!

If your hormones are out of whack...

Make sure thyroid function is up to snuff. If you have any family history of issues, see a specialist who can tell you if your thyroid hormones are not only in the normal range for the average person, but are optimal for you in particular. Low thyroid can cause hair to be thin, sparse and sticky.

Dr. Rebecca Baxt, a New Jersey board certified dermatologist and assistant professor of clinical dermatology at NYU, says hormones are a big factor when it comes to hair aging. "It becomes thinner, both the individual hair and the total amount of hairs on the head, as well as turning gray."

If you can't control stress or sleep...

Stress on a regular basis, along with its companion — lack of quality sleep — can reduce hair growth quality. "Severe stress due to illness, the death of a loved one or even work-related issues can also cause a form of long-term hair loss," says Dr. Krant. It can also cause hair to turn prematurely gray!

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