Hair Loss: What’s Age Got To Do With It?

Guides ● January 2019

In 30 Seconds

  • Hair loss comes with age. It’s a naturally occurring phenomenon. This is not ground-breaking news! But for some of us, it happens earlier than we expect.
  • At birth we already have all the hair follicles we’re ever going to have! This is around 5 million, of which 100,000 are present on the scalp.
  • The density (thickness) of your hair is determined by follicle size and number, both of which are genetic. As we age, many hair follicles stop producing hairs. This is the main cause of hair thinning.

Similar to the slow acquisition of a visible beer belly, the onset of hair loss is definitely one of the downsides of being a man. But here’s the thing. There’s no shame in it – and it happens to us all. But unlike cutting back on the pints and swapping the fry ups for All Bran, noticing you have less on top seems trickier to remedy.

“Just by looking at people through various stages of life, one can deduce (even without scientific justification) that hair loss is a naturally occurring phenomenon that occurs with aging,” says Dr Earim Chaudry.

If you’re enjoying a family get together or got all the relatives round yours for Christmas, it may be worth glancing around the table to see which older male relatives still have their hair. “Male pattern baldness is largely caused by genetic factors,” agrees Dr Chaudry.

But just because your Dad and Granddad are (or were) losing their mane, doesn’t mean you have to follow the same road. We’ve got the lowdown on how age affects hair loss – and some proven solutions to get your hair back in shape.

Just by looking at people through various stages of life, one can deduce (even without scientific justification) that hair loss is a naturally occurring phenomenon that occurs with aging says

Dr Earim Chaudry

Hair Growth: the Science Part

  • Hair growth and hair loss are largely controlled by your genes.1
  • Hair is made primarily from a protein called keratin2 and us humans have it to regulate body temperature, as sense organs and to protect the skin.3
  • Hair grows out of hair follicles. These anchor the hairs into the skin and are nourished by blood vessels.4
  • As soon as the hair breaks through the scalp it is already dead and only the root of the hair (anchored in the hair follicles) is still alive. That’s why a haircut isn’t painful – but if your hair was plucked at the roots it would hurt!
  • At birth we already have all the hair follicles we’re ever going to have! This is around 5 million, of which 100,000 are present on the scalp.5
  • The average hair lasts from around 2-7 years and is then replaced by another strand when it falls out.
  • Us men are able to grow hair faster than women because of high levels of testosterone.6 But generally, women are more able to keep their long hair long.
As soon as the hair breaks through the scalp it is already dead and only the root of the hair (anchored in the hair follicles) is still alive. That’s why a haircut isn’t painful – but if your hair was plucked at the roots it would hurt!

How Does Hair Age?

  • The density (thickness) of your hair is determined by follicle size and number, both of which are genetic. As we age many hair follicles stop producing hairs. This is the main cause of hair thinning.7
  • Nearly everyone -men and women – have some hair loss with aging. Hair tends to grow slower too.8
  • Head of hair looking less full and generally thinner? This is caused by a reduction in the size of the hair follicle by around 30%.9
  • This thinning of the hair eventually turns into balding in the cases of male pattern baldness. This is hereditary from both your mum and your dad’s side.10
  • As we age, the lifespan of our hair also shortens. During the anagen phase (usually 2-7 years) the hair cells divide and grow quickly, resulting in hair length. This phase slows down as we get older, but scientists are not sure why.11
  • With each growth cycle, the hairs become thinner, shorter and lighter in colour.
  • Have you noticed your hair changing colour too as you get older? This is normal. The pigment which creates hair colour (melanin) is produced less the older we get. This means your hair looks lighter and then eventually turns grey.12  
Nearly everyone – men and women – have some hair loss with aging. Hair tends to grow slower too.

Age Is Just a Number

Hair loss is more prevalent the older you get, but it can also happen to all of us. Whatever our age. More millenials are discovering that their hair isn’t as thick and windswept as they’d like. Why? Well, it could be stress or diet – but could also be because as a generation millennials pay more attention to their hair. So are more aware of any changes. Good news if you want to spot the signs of thinning hair earlier – and do something about it!

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