Style & Beauty

Bye-Bye Bad Hair Days

Hair doesn’t have to lose its lustre. Here’s how to get your hair back to its sleek, beautiful self

By Manon Chevalier with Lola Augustine Brown

If you look at old photos of yourself and sigh thinking about the great hair that you used to have, you’re not alone. Dull, tired-looking hair can make us look dull and tired, and can make us look older than we are (or older than we want to appear to be). And thinning hair is just downright depressing, for women as much as for men.

We have some good news, though: there’s a lot you can do to help your hair become healthier, fuller, and more lustrous.

“The main reason hair loses its shine as we get older is that we are producing less sebum, our natural oil, a process that makes hair dryer, just as it does skin,” says Evyeneia Dexter, owner of Foxy Moon Hair Gallery in Halifax. “Some grey hair also comes in a little more course and kinky, so it doesn’t reflect light as much, which also diminishes shine.”

It’s not just aging that turns hair blah—the things we do or don’t do to protect our hair are largely responsible for our hair’s condition. Stress is hard on the hair, as are not eating properly, exposure to the elements, and aggressive styling methods.

“Abusing your hair with chemical treatments including colours and the excessive use of hair dryers, flatirons, or curling rods, which often operate at temperatures up to 200°C [390°F], all alter the natural lustre of hair,” says Lucie Levac of Phyto Canada. When we abuse our hair, we are damaging keratin, the protein of which hair is made.

As for thinning hair, a subject about which many of us are sensitive, there are a number of reasons for this, too.

“Genetics, hormone disruption, aging, stress, or taking certain drugs are the first causes of the loss of density—which shouldn’t be confused with the irreversible loss of hair,” says Dr. Yves Hébert, a specialist in aesthetic medicine and hair replacement at the Clinic of Aesthetic Medicine and Surgery in Montreal.