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Is It Normal... for Hair to Become Coarser With Age?

Does shiny, soft hair seem to be a thing of your past? It’s not your imagination — and you’re not alone: According to Anabel Kingsley, director of communications and trichologist at Philip Kingsley Trichological Clinic in New York, as we age, our scalps’ oil secretions decline, which can cause hair to become more brittle and appear dull. But is it normal for your hair to become coarser with age? The quick answer: No.

Why is it not normal?

First, you need to understand what coarse hair is. Coarse (or thick) describes a hair’s diameter. It’s the largest of all hair strand types (others are fine and medium). With that explainer out of the way, Kingsley wants you to know: Hair doesn’t get coarser with age. On the contrary, it typically becomes finer — meaning the diameter shrinks — as we mature.

Why do we believe our hair becomes coarser?

Perception — or, simply confusing the adjective “coarse” with “rough,” “brittle,” and “dry” — plays a large part in our believing that our hair becomes coarser as we get older. Without our body’s moisturizing oil, hair becomes drier, feels more inelastic, and loses its shine — but that is not the same as hair suddenly turning coarse (larger in diameter).

But what about those wiry grays? They’re not any coarser than the rest of your mane. “Women tend to scrutinize their grays more than they do pigmented strands, and this can lead to the perception that grays have a different texture [than the pigmented strands],” Kingsley says. Perhaps the fact that, according to the Philip Kingsley Hair Guide, coarse hair tends to feel rougher in texture and is more susceptible to moisture loss than fine or medium hair causes us to correlate the term “coarse” with “dry” and “brittle.” Even so, unless you were born with coarse hair, the tresses you have aren’t becoming coarser as you age.

Photo: Natalie Jeffcott

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