- Despite having a similar chemical makeup, the hair of Africans, Asians and Caucasians does not all age in the same way, or at the same rate.
- Thus, the first gray hairs often appear around 30 years old in Asians and Caucasians, against 40 years in Africans.
Aging may be an inevitable biological process, but not all humans are equal when it comes to hair changes. While some people will display their first white hair in their twenties, others will be spared for many years to come. The same goes with loss of volume, porous or thinning hair, which are other signs of hair aging.
A new study, published Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, was interested for the first time in the role played by ethnicity in hair aging. Its authors describe the unique characteristics of hair aging depending on whether one is black, Asian or Caucasian.
Similar chemical composition
Researchers searched 69 publications to examine what is known about changes in hair structure over time, focusing on differences in hair aging by ethnicity. They gathered information regarding hair structure, characteristics of aging, and reactions to extrinsic damage.
As with the skin, hair aging includes both intrinsic aging, i.e. the natural physiological changes that occur over time, and extrinsic aging, associated with environmental exposures and physical stress caused by daily care.
“Despite a similar chemical makeup, the structural properties of hair vary between different ethnicities and therefore hair aging also differs. As the population ages and becomes more diverse, there is a growing need to understand the aging process. different types of hair “says Neelam Vashi, associate professor of dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine and director of the Boston University Cosmetic and Laser Center at Boston Medical Center.
A different aging according to the ethnic group
The study thus concludes that the appearance of the first white hair varies according to the race: on average 30 years for Caucasians and Asians, and 40 years for Africans. Caucasians and Asians typically see damage to the distal hair shaft, while African Americans see the damage occurring closer to the hairline. After menopause, women often see a decrease in anagen hair (active or growing) in the frontal scalp, lower growth rates, and a smaller hair diameter.
According to researchers, the role of hair, both for protection and cosmetic enhancement, makes it incredibly important for the physical and mental well-being of people. “A thorough understanding of the unique characteristics of aging hair in different races and ethnicities is essential for the proper management of adult patients”, concludes Professor Vashi.