A recent study conducted by the Boston University School of Medicine found that hair aging differs by race and ethnicity. As reported by Sciencedaily.com, the study describes the unique characteristics of hair aging among different ethnicities that the authors hope will aid in a culturally sensitive approach when making recommendations to prevent hair damage during one’s lifetime.
While aging is an inevitable and unavoidable biological process that leads to visible changes to the hair, not much literature is available to examine the characteristics of hair aging across races. This new study has led to several findings that were previously unknown about the hair aging process across races and ethnicities.
As per the study, the onset of hair aging varies according to race, with the average age for Caucasians being mid-30-s, for Asians being in late 30-s, and for Africans being in 40-s. Caucasians and Asians usually experience damage to the distal hair shaft, while African-Americans typically experience damage occurring closer to the hair root.
Postmenopausal changes include decreased active or growing hair in the frontal scalp, lower growth rates, and smaller hair diameter. Hair aging is quite similar to skin aging and includes both intrinsic agings that includes the natural physiological changes that occur with time and extrinsic aging that includes changes associated with environmental exposures and physical stress usually caused by daily grooming.
Neelam Vashi, MD, associate professor of dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine and director of the Boston University Cosmetic and Laser Center at Boston Medical Center and author of the study says that “Despite a similar chemical composition, the structural properties of hair vary between different ethnicities and, consequently, the aging of hair differs as well. As the population ages and becomes more diverse, it is of greater necessity to understand the hair aging process in different types of hair”
The researchers conducted a literature search among 69 publications to review what is known about changes in hair structure over time and focused on the differences in hair aging according to the ethnic background of the respondents. Other information regarding hair structure, aging characteristics, and responses to extrinsic damages along with differences between races and ethnicities was also collected.
According to the researchers involved in the study, the role of hair for protection and cosmetic improvement makes hair incredibly important to one’s physical and mental wellbeing. Vashi adds “A thorough understanding of the unique characteristics of hair aging among different races and ethnicities is essential for the appropriate management of mature patients.”
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