In the not too distant past, as seniors moved into their later years, there were familiar traditional looks for men’s and women’s hair.
However, two county stylists agree that seniors today are interested in a variety of styles that, coupled with the right hair care products, can help them look and feel more vibrant.
Karen Miles of Miles by Design in Marion said seniors were her most regular customers.
“Most of the time they are pretty open to trying new things,” she said. “Many times we hear ladies say, ‘Just because I’m older I don’t want to look and feel older.’ I think over time people have gotten away from the weekly set, as we used to call it, and are wanting to be a little more trendy.”
As people age, hair changes in thickness, density, and coarseness, all of which influence style.
“It feels different than it did 10 years ago,” Miles said. “Lots of time hair will get drier as it ages, and it loses a lot of its shine and elasticity. It’s almost like having to learn to do hair all over again, or finding a different product that works.”
These changes can be frustrating for women who do their hair at home and find that it doesn’t come out the way it used to.
“They don’t have the right products at home and they’re trying to get their hair to do something their hair isn’t meant to do.”
Alison Schultz of Tangles in Hillsboro said she tries to listen to customers to gauge how receptive they might be to changes.
“A lot of times they stay with what they do because it works for them,” she said. “A lot of times you just ask them if they’re happy with the way their hair is. If not, I ask them what they want and go from there.”
Miles said she often looks for styles that women can take care of themselves, and teaches them how to do it.
Other aspects of aging also influence the style that’s right for a particular person, Miles said.
“A lot of them have lost a lot of strength in their arms and shoulders,” she said. “It’s hard for some of them to get their arms up to do blow drying and curling irons.”
Coloring to blend or cover gray hair is still common, but Schultz said a complete color job isn’t right for everyone.
“If they haven’t colored their hair for a long time and it’s already white, you try to talk them away from that,” she said. “we’ll do a highlight or give a little color, but not change them dramatically.”
Products have been formulated for thinning hair, too, Miles said. Shampoos and conditioners work to give structure and volume to hair, and other treatments address scalp health. Schultz said she carries two products she uses to regenerate growth.
Another option Miles described was a temporary fix.
“They have a styler we call makeup for hair,” Miles said. “It gives the illusion and feel of hair feeling 9,000 strands thicker. It’s something that washes out.”
Miles advised against a strategy one customer used to cover up thinning.
“We had a man here I know for a fact used spray paint on his thin spot,” Miles said. “Nobody ever got close enough to him to be able to tell.”
Both stylists count senior men among their customers. Not surprisingly, thinning hair and the onset of baldness are common issues, and both have seen their fair share of comb-overs as cover-ups.
Miles said that many men weren’t aware that there are other style options to work with thinning hair.
“Our goal is to make them happy,” she said. “We want them to feel better when they leave. If we can alter it a bit within those guidelines, we do that.”
Schultz said what she recommends depends on individual personalities, but she emphasized that baldness is natural.
“I’d say if you’re going bald, embrace it,” she said.
While there are style options aplenty for seniors to explore, Schultz said many regulars come in as much for social exchange as they do for a perm.
“A lot of them will come in once a week and we’ll fix it for them,” she said “A lot of them say it’s therapy and it’s cheaper than psychiatrists.”