Ageless Beauty

Three Women Over 40 on Their Evolving Relationships With Their Hair

We asked three women over 40 to share how their hair-care routines have changed over time and how they’ve learned to embrace their unique texture and color. With the help of their must-have products from Target, here’s how these women play up their best features—from gorgeous grays to voluminous waves—and redefine what it means to have a good hair day.

When we go through major changes in our lives, our hair is usually the first thing to change with us. Between the age-old questions (“Should I get bangs?”) and the ever-present temptations of impulse dye jobs and trendy cuts, our hair goes through a lot over the years. And while we’re all for experimentation and exploration, we can also always get down with a signature look. So we asked three women over 40 to share how their approach to hair care has evolved through the years—and how they’ve kept their strands healthy along the way.

Shawna Christensen

“[When I was younger], taking care of my hair meant getting a haircut, says New York City-based model and actress Shawna Christensen. “Now that I color my hair, it’s important to minimize damage and keep it healthy.” To ensure her color doesn’t fade, Christensen looks for sulfate-free shampoos and nourishing conditioners to keep her strands strong and full of shine.

“The most surprising thing I've learned is that your scalp health is directly related to your hair health,” says Christensen. Today, she’s made a practice of brushing her scalp with a boar bristle brush, pulling it from the root to the ends to help stimulate blood flow and pull natural oils down through the hair. Outside of that routine, Christensen keeps things simple—though that wasn’t always the case.

“These days, a good hair day is one where I can show off my natural waves,” she says. “I used to prefer my hair straight, so embracing my wavy hair was an evolution.” At the heart of it, she says, this simply meant becoming comfortable in her own skin. “Back then, if I was going out to dinner or to castings, it meant having to blow-dry my hair to make it look prim and proper. But as you get older, you stop caring what other people think and focus on making things easier.” And to Christensen, that means prioritizing her own time—letting her hair air-dry naturally, rather than spending 30 minutes under a blow-dryer.

Shawna’s Target Shopping List:

Nexxus Color Assure Rebalancing White Orchid Extract Silicone & Sulfate Free Shampoo

Nexxus Color Assure Restoring White Orchid Extract Conditioner

Kristin Ess Weightless Shine Leave In Conditioner

The Original Wet Brush Shine Hair Boar Bristle Combination Brush


Pat Tracey

In her twenties, model and photographer Pat Tracey struggled to manage her thick hair. Her solution became less about stocking up on products, and more about hitting reset. “I cut it off and rocked a chic, short style for several years,” says Tracey. “Now I play with it more and fight with it less.” Tracey, who now lives in New York City, but grew up in Trinidad and Tobago, found a hair-care routine that works for her, so she sticks to it.

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“The most important thing I’ve learned [over the years] is to embrace what I’ve got and to let my hair tell me what it wants and needs, rather than forcing it against its will,” says Tracey. “So even though I use the same products, I may use more or less of something, depending on what my hair is doing.”

Her non-negotiables? A nourishing conditioner, followed by a hair serum and curl cream. But in the past, she says, it was much more complicated. Styling her hair once meant addressing a constantly-rotating list of questions and concerns. “Was my perm growing out? Were my ends dry and splitting? Did I need to color it again? Now it’s easier to have a good hair day,” says Tracey, who no longer dyes her hair and has embraced her gorgeous grays. “I [get] a fun, stylish cut and use products that work with my natural color and texture.”

“Some people will argue that I’m high maintenance, but when it comes to my hair I’m not,” she laughs. Her advice for loving your natural hair is just as easygoing: “Sleep, laugh, drink lots of water, breathe in fresh air, and enjoy nature.”

Pat’s Target Shopping List:

Head & Shoulders Classic Clean Dandruff Shampoo

Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Moist Deep Conditioner

Miss Jessie's Jelly Soft Curls Gel

Fantasia IC Hair Polisher


Debra Ross

“Beauty combines your mind, body, and spirit,” says Debra Ross, a practitioner in traditional Chinese medicine based in Westchester, New York. “When you’re in alignment—meaning you feel healthy in your body, you’re living a life you’re happy with, and you’ve taken time to get to know yourself—then [your beauty] is undeniable.” Ross began her career in fashion and beauty PR, but made the switch to acupuncture and herbology after spending four years as a publicist. “[PR] just wasn’t my calling,” she says, although she still loves experimenting with different looks and products, something she picked up while working in the fashion and beauty industry.

“I just think hair is fun and it always grows back, so there’s freedom to play,” says Ross. “I’ve always felt comfortable exploring and experimenting.” At the same time, she’s come to prioritize feeling like herself when trying out new styles. So how does one strike that perfect balance? “Don’t try to be something you’re not. [For instance,] I’m not a long-hair girl and I’ve completely accepted that. When I grow it out, I don't feel my best.”

Above all else, Ross’ secret to maintaining her hair’s health is being acutely aware of any more holistic internal changes. “If my hair feels brittle or the texture changes, I look deeper at my stress levels, which can affect hair health.” When that does happen, though, she turns to nourishing masks and conditioners to help it bounce back, and generally avoids heat-styling. “I’m a ‘wash-and-go’ person,” she says. “I spray in a product that offers some styling [...] and however my hair dries [in the morning] is my hair for the day. I don’t like it to be too perfect.”

Debra’s Target Shopping List:

Hair Biology Volumizing Shampoo with Biotin Full & Vibrant for Fine or Thin Hair

Hair Biology Volumizing Conditioner with Biotin Full & Vibrant for Fine or Thin Hair

Not Your Mother's Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt Spray

Kristin Ess Fragrance Free Soft Shine Grooming Cream

Kristin Ess Weightless Shine Working Serum