New scientific research conducted by Estée Lauder suggests that the scalp aging may closely parallel facial skin aging and maintaining healthy hair requires preventive care for both hair follicle and the surrounding tissue.
“Many of the haircare concerns of our guests, such as thinning, color change and a decrease in luster, are related to aging,” says Alison Pawlus, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at Aveda (Minneapolis, Minnesota), an Estée Lauder company that funded the research.
“While many changes with age have a strong genetic component, there is growing support that many nongenetic factors can influence healthy aging,” Dr. Pawlus tells The Aesthetic Channel. “For instance, hair health is dependent upon not just the hair follicle itself, but the surrounding tissue as well, both of which can be impacted by both internal stresses and external/environmental stressors.”
Dr. Pawlus, who presented findings at the 2018 International Investigative Dermatology (IID) meeting in Orlando, Fla., in May, was surprised by not only how much the scalp skin changes with age, but by how soon changes in the hair follicle become visible. “Histologically, we found that scalp aging closely parallels facial skin aging, with the same smoothing out of the rete ridges and changes in collagen.”
Additionally, the researchers observed changes in a number of matrix metalloproteinase enzymes and other extracellular matrix proteins, which partially explains some of their histological findings.
“I had anticipated that the thick terminal scalp hair would provide protection to the scalp and we would see a more delayed appearance of skin aging relative to facial skin. But this was not the case,” Dr. Pawlus states.
One of the major takeaways of the research is that in order to maintain optimal hair health, “We need to think of the scalp more like we do facial skin and give our scalp the attention that it needs if we want to maintain optimal health of our hair,” Dr. Pawlus explains.
Likewise, not only is it important to protect the scalp from environmental stressors, “but we need to do this starting at an early age, as changes start happening within the scalp before they are noticeable in the hair,” Dr. Pawlus says.
The company’s ongoing research supports the use of products with adequate concentrations of antioxidants that are particularly beneficial against a number of stressors.
“Actives that target some of the age-related changes, such as reduced blood flow and hormonal changes, are also important,” Dr. Pawlus says.
Furthermore, a healthy scalp barrier is paramount. Dr. Pawlus recommends avoiding extremes like washing too frequently with harsh detergents or not cleansing sufficiently.