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.
“[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.
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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.