"One of women’s biggest complaints as they go through menopause is dryness-everywhere," Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, MD, PhD, a New York City dermatologist and scientist, says. Thinning also becomes more pronounced in this decade. "Recent studies indicate that women at this age aren’t able to grow their hair as long as they once could," says Jeni Thomas, PhD, a senior scientist for Pantene. Most women also have grays aplenty and have either opted to go au naturel or are coloring regularly, which can leave the hair fragile and prone to breakage.
First, do no harm. "To avoid parching hair, let it air dry for as long as possible before using the blow-dryer," Thomas suggests. "Then steer clear of high heat settings, and keep the nozzle a couple of inches away from your hair." Flatirons are also drying, so if you must use one, keep it on a medium setting and don’t hold it in one place, which can burn strands. Alexiades-Armenakas suggests rotating shampoos and conditioners so "your hair is clean and moisturized but won’t suffer luster-impeding buildup, a by-product of using the same formulas day after day." One we like: John Frieda Smooth Start Hydrating Conditioner ($7; drugstores).
Thin hair can look stringy if it’s too long, but that doesn’t mean you must go for a pixie cut. "If your hair is very short, it will fall flat against your scalp. Keep it long enough to get some bend with a round brush or a roller," says Vinette Aquino, a stylist at the New York Blow Dry Bar. You may also want to try a casual updo once in a while: It draws the eye up, adding lift to the face. But no matter which style you opt for, avoid products that are very creamy because they’ll weigh down your strands. Better bets? Think light and airy: mousse, spray gels, flexible hairsprays. Try John Frieda Root Awakening Strength-Boosting Spray ($7; drugstores). Gibson uses this trick on his celebrity clients as well: Blend hair-building Toppik Powder ($44; toppik.com) onto your part or thinning areas- any hint of (god forbid) scalp will instantly disappear. Toppik is available in eight shades, and it washes out.
Kevin Mancuso, a New York City stylist and the creative director for Nexxus Haircare, recommends getting a deep conditioning treatment every time you color to keep your locks plenty hydrated. Then apply a protein-rich at-home treatment monthly to reinforce weak spots and prevent split ends and tearing. One mask Mancuso swears by: Nexxus Emergencee Treatment ($15; drugstores). He also advocates using heat-protectant sprays before any heat styling to shield already at-risk hair from further damage. Try Tresemmé Heat Tamer Protective Spray ($5; drugstores). "For sexy, healthy hair advice in your sixties, click here*
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