Beautiful, swingy, shining hair begins with "scalp fitness." The living parts of hair – the follicle, the root, the root sheath, and the sebaceous glands – are under the skin of your scalp. That's why healthy hair depends on good scalp hygiene and maintenance. However, there's plenty you can also do to give bounce and brightness to the hair shafts themselves. Especially if you have gray hair, your locks are more brittle than they once were, and they need extra TLC to prevent them from splitting and losing their luster. Here are tips for keeping your scalp and your tresses in top condition.
Stimulate Your Scalp.
A gentle scalp massage about once a week gets the circulation going and brings blood to the roots of your hair where it can nourish them. You can do the massage yourself, but be careful not to scratch your scalp. Wear cotton gloves if you have long fingernails. Abrasions on your scalp, even tiny ones, invite infection. Another option is to treat yourself to a professional scalp massage at a day spa – or ask Santa for this good-for-you indulgence this year!
Condition Your Scalp, Not Just Your Hair
Special products to lubricate your scalp can boost moisture where you need it most: right at the roots. Section your hair and apply the conditioning oil at the base of the shafts. Leave it on for as long as the manufacturer recommends and shampoo it out.
Avoid Harsh, Drying Shampoos
Sulfates in some products can be drying for your scalp. That in turn can cause itching, irritation, and even inflammation. Another damaging ingredient is alcohol. Read the labels before choosing a product!
Don't Get Let the Sun Burn Your Scalp
If you have a part or if your hair is thinner now, the sun's UV rays will burn your scalp skin and impede healthy hair production. In fact, UV rays can penetrate even thicker hair on days when the sun is shining its brightest. Be sure to wear a hat, visor, or scarf for protection.
Shampoo only 3 or 4 times a week.
Washing your hair too often will strip away natural oils and leave your scalp depleted of moisture. That will give your hair a dull, lifeless look.
Use as Little Heat as Possible
If you're in the habit of using a curling iron, hot rollers, a blow dryer, or a hair dryer with a hood, consider rethinking your style. All that heat wreaks havoc with the natural moisture and oils in your hair and scalp. A good blunt or layered cut that will air dry is a terrific alternative to too much styling. If your hair is curly, let it do its own thing and fluff it up with your fingers to frame your face.
Pick Products Designed for Gray Hair
The protective cuticle on your hair shafts gets thinner with age. That causes the strands to beome thinner as well and it makes them prone to breaking. Look for moisturizing shampoos, conditioners, and gels created especially for the silver-haired set. These products can soften your hair and render it more pliant.
Treat Your Hair and Scalp Right From the Inside Out
For healthy hair and scalp, the Mayo Clinic recommends a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, beans, lentils, and plenty of protein. Fish is your best bet, but you can have meat once a week or so.
A final note: We've shared this strategy with you before here at ThirdAge but it bears repeating: If your hair is skimpier than you'd like even though you've done all you can to plump it up, make like a celebrity and use extensions – especially for special occasions and photo ops. The faux varieties of these clever clip-ons are affordable and they give you instant glam just when you need it most. No one will be the wiser!