“As we age, new hair growth contains less protein,” says Jeni Thomas, a scientist in the research-and-development labs at Procter & Gamble. The effect of this dip: Fat strands get thinner, and their vigor diminishes. “What gives hair its strength is protein. Pound for pound, healthy hair is stronger than steel,” says Thomas.
At about the same life stage, most scalps also start producing less sebum, which has a protective quality. So just as your hair weakens, it becomes more vulnerable. Good thing there are solutions. For starters, your diet should be rich in protein, especially in the morning, says Liz Cunnane-Phillips, a trichologist (hair doctor) at the Philip Kingsley Trichological Centre in Manhattan. She suggests eating a protein-rich breakfast that includes egg whites, low-fat cottage cheese or lean meat.
You can acquire protein from nondietary sources as well. Salon keratin treatments are a big business; one popular (and formaldehyde-free) option is the Paul Mitchell Kera-Triplex 2-Step Repair (visit paulmitchell.com to find a salon near you). At home, try protein-enriched shampoos like the Pantene Breakage to Strength line ($4; drugstores) or tools like the Body Essentials Light and Massage Therapy Brush ($40; bodyessentialsforyou.com), which uses LED light to boost scalp circulation, upping protein-rich blood flow to hair follicles.
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