Beauty

Published on July 29th, 2013

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Decoding Cosmetics Claims: Aging Hair

Products claiming to tame aging tresses are popping up everywhere. Not only are consumers being encouraged to dye their greys, but they’re also seeing ads for products that help restore shine, fullness, and softness. Didn’t think you were losing those things? WRONGO BONGO, OLDIE. And you need to buy something to fix it, preferably something that has the words “replenish” or “revitalize” pasted all over it.

According to Jeni Thomas, a scientist at P&G (via WSJ):

Hair does, in fact, change as a person ages. Not only does it turn gray, it becomes more brittle and fragile. It also gets thinner, the result of both a decrease in the number of active hair follicles and a narrowing of the diameter of each individual hair.

The hair care industry is taking its advertising cues from the skincare industry, which has long marketed targeted solutions and multi-step regimens for every imaginable aging-related concern. Now consumers can purchase special scalp tonics, shampoos, conditioners, and styling products all designed for various aging hair issues just like they can purchase cleansers, toners, moisturizers, and serums for their skin.

But what makes anti-aging hair products different from any other hair products? Not much, it would seem. There are already products designed to promote shine, volume, and smoothness, to detoxify the scalp (whatever that means), or to prevent breakage. Some of those products make a difference and some don’t, but the point is, there are no new or miraculous ingredients at work for aging hair. If you compare ingredients lists from anti-aging hair products to those without anti-aging claims, you will find more similarities than differences. For example, if you compare the ingredients in Pantene Pro-V AgeDefy Shampoo to Pantene Pro-V Repair & Protect Shampoo, a non-anti-aging shampoo from the same line, the first several ingredients (which make up most of the product) are identical, and the rest are pretty similar.

Dr. George Cotsarelis, chair of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania, told the Wall Street Journal that he is skeptical of anti-aging hair product claims. “Topical products can change the hair’s appearance but not the follicle itself,” he cautions. “It’s like throwing gasoline on your car and expecting it to go.”

So, what actually works? Aging hair can benefit from any products that add moisture, which makes hair softer and less prone to breakage. Products with various kinds of silicone (look for ingredients that end in –cone) coat the hair to make it appear smoother and shinier (it’s like hair Teflon!). Combing and brushing gently, avoiding over-processing or excessive heat styling, and otherwise handling your hair with care will help prevent damage at any age.

Your hair is going to age with or without specialized products. Long story short: anti-aging hair products = regular hair products that say anti-aging on them.

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