Age Related Loss of Color Saturation – Why Hair Becomes Less Pigmented with Age

Age Related Loss of Color Saturation – Why Hair Becomes Less Pigmented with Age

Aug 21st 2022

Fading Hair Color

Ah, age. That beautiful event that happens to everyone (age does not discriminate). And if you’re lucky enough, you continue to age well into your golden years. With age comes so many wonderful things. Experience, wisdom, appreciation for the little things, expanding families, retirement and so many others. 

As we all know, age also comes with some frustrating things that inevitably happen as our cells and other building blocks begin to break down. It happens to all living creatures, and humans are no exceptions. One of these (admittedly minor in the grand scheme of things) frustrations are the changes that occur to our hair. 

Age Related Loss of Color 

As we advance in years, it’s not our imagination that our hair color tends to look less “rich” – less “there”. For example, I used to have a naturally deeper chestnut hue and now it has faded to more of a greyish brown. Hair color definitely fades in richness and depth with age. 

Often times it is replaced with grey hair, however there is also a general washing out of the color saturation itself as well, on the hairs that don't turn grey. Even blondes have this same issue. Blondes that were warmer, more buttery in youth tend to also get more washed out to ashy tones with age. So this is not an issue that only occurs for dark haired versus light haired people, it’s a universal issue. Hence the popularity of color refreshers

What Causes This Loss of Pigmentation in the Hair? 

Melanin, the same pigment that colors our skin, also plays a role in the color of our hair. As you age, you may notice that you have a harder time tanning in the sun, and tend to get more areas of the skin that stay stubbornly white even when exposed to sun. It's because melanin decreases with age, and there are larger areas of the skin that won't tan like they used to. You also may get more age spots and freckles where as in your youth, it’s easier to tan the skin more uniformly. 

Melanin diminishes with age for everyone. This is just a natural process. Loss of melanin means a loss of hair color, and becomes more noticeable as age advances, and along with it, melanin production. This results in a lighter hair color for dark haired people, and a lighter and less rich color for light haired people. 

Grey Hair is a Little Different… 

Grey hair is actually something a little different than mere loss of the melanin pigment. Grey hair is caused by another natural aging process. A buildup of hydrogen peroxide is to blame (interestingly, our bodies produce this, it’s not just a household staple!) 

When the hair below the surface is exposed to this peroxide buildup, the hair that ends up sprouting from the head is actually grey or white in appearance. Related: Natural Hair Coloring Alternatives

It also tends to be much stiffer, and more wiry than the hairs on our head that aren’t turning grey. As we age and more and more of our hair is exposed to peroxide, we start to see more greys. This happens at different ages for everyone. Some people go grey in their thirties, while others can go well into their seventies without many greys! 

What Can You Do to Re-Saturate Your Color? 

As previously mentioned, there’s a previous post about some great options for deepening your color. You don’t have to bathe your hair in a ton of chemicals or additional damage either, as long as you read the labels and look at reviews. Other than that, you can use some protective products that will protect from additional sun damage

There are sprays on the market that protect form heat, environmental and UV damage. All of these additional factors do contribute to the lightening of the hair with age, however the major contributor is just the natural process of aging. Or you can just let it go and accept and learn to love your new hair color. 

More and more people are opting for this, and lots say it’s pretty liberating to just go natural. So, you don’t have to be a lifetime user of hair color deepening products if you so choose. And that my friends, will be where I go…..some day. Not yet. Not quite ready.