For most women, aging becomes a growing and worrying concern the more we – you know, age. For women of color, and black women specifically, the concept of aging can often sound mystified. The (mis) conception that Black women don't age the same way Caucasian women do, while often viewed as a compliment, can also be limiting as it stops Black women from openly having discussions about aging and their struggles with it. There is also a growing concern among Black women to stay youthful through cosmetics like dermal fillers, in an effort to maintain the idea that "Black Don't Crack" — which also adds to the pressure.
Beauty through health and wellness is becoming a much larger concern as well. The healthcare industry in the US is expected to grow by 15% between 2019 and 2029, with healthcare training in gerontology focusing on challenges older people face — such as health promotion, disease prevention, exercise and rehabilitation, as well as Alzheimer’s and dementia care. It should be no surprise that doing our part in staying healthy will reduce the chances of complications when we age, but an often overlooked aspect of aging is how it affects a woman's hair. In this post, we'll go through some of the ways aging affects women's hair, and what can be done to prevent or treat them:
Undoubtedly one of the more visible signs of aging, hair loss in women is inevitable, even if it may come later than their male counterparts. For Black women specifically, hair loss is experienced slightly differently than in white and Asian women. Due to being in tight curls or twists often, the hair becomes increasingly fragile and more prone to breakage. As a result, hair loss in Black women occurs in shorter strands rather than full-length hairs. Paired with thinner hair structure and a slower rate of hair growth, hair loss in Black women is more common than it seems. Fortunately, this can be prevented or treated early by using strengthening hair products. Not only does this help with hair loss, it also ensures the hair grows longer and looks healthier. Other ways to help includes loosening the curls and twisting when styling, to prevent fragility and breakage.
While the average age of menopause in the US is 51, Black women tend to get it around nine months earlier. The start of menopause means a drop in estrogen levels, causing hair to become thinner and appear less full, on top of slowing down hair growth even further. For some older adults, androgenic alopecia may also occur, causing overall thinning or bald spots. Depending on your scalp, proper hair treatment can help ease your hair through these drastic changes. Dry scalps can benefit from gentle, moisturizing shampoos, and less frequent washes; while oilier scalps can do with shampoo washes every day.
Thanks to the higher density of melanosomes in their hair, Black women are said to experience graying hairs a little later than their Caucasian and Asian counterparts. This genetic setup is actually beneficial because it saves the effort of having to get the gray hairs dyed for discretion or whatever reason. However, the reverse also happens, and because everyone is genetically different, sometimes the rules of graying hairs don't apply to them. Case in point, this 38-year-old bride who went viral for deciding not to dye her graying hair on her wedding day. While getting gray hairs at the age 16 may be a rare case, the aforementioned bride is likely not the only one with such a condition.
Genetics aside, the growth of gray hairs is often associated with higher stress levels and general hair health. Using the right hair products (like moisturizing products in place of harsh shampoos) or treatment services can help, while also paying attention to external factors that may be causing unnecessary stress. Staying healthy in mind and body are both contributing factors to healthier hair.
Written by Hazel Briar for theknstore.com