Right off the bat with no real thought my answer to that question is a resounding yes. Of course my answer is based on the flashes of pictures of gorgeous silver foxes with long flowing gray hair that my mind has retained.
I also have a bit of experience too, my grandmother has hair that is at the very least waist length for as long as I can remember so without even thinking about it why would I think that long hair for mature ladies would be impossible?
However we cannot rightfully answer that question without a bit of thought and science. Lets take my grandma for instance, she has worn her hair in a braided bun for as long as I can remember. She brushes her hair at night, covers it, wakes up buns it and repeats this ritual daily.
Her hair is always in a protective style not because she is trying desperately to retain length but out of convenience of keeping her hair away as she is a very busy woman :).
The question is, if I dared to cut my grandmother’s hair, would she be able to grow it back and retain length as she has all these years. Would she notice a difference in growth rate? Would her texture be the same? Could she be just as successful at this age (80’s) with the same hair practices and see the same level of success?
According to Cunnane Phillips a trichologist at the Philip Kingsley Clinic in New York City:
“We are genetically pre-programmed to grow our hair to a certain length. There are three recognized phases to the typical growth cycle: anagen (the growth phase), catagen (a short resting phase) and telogen (the shedding phase that can result in the hair releasing over a period of time). The anagen phase can range anywhere from two to six years; this is what will determine the maximal length we can achieve.”
What is true is that even as we age, we are still growing hair, but it is hard to determine if you will still achieve maximum length retention over a lifetime because of all the variables that affect hair in that time.
Things like coloring our hair more, lifestyle changes, stress, and the topic at hand, age! As we age the rate of hair growth does slow down and we tend to see more hair fall which means very thick hair will appear somewhat thinner. This is perfectly natural.
The strand itself changes too. If you had coarse and very pigmented strands as a young adult, you will notice that your hair is much finer and less pigmented as you age.
As you age, your nails also start to change, they become thinner and more brittle and for some women they might even be a bit yellow and opaque.
What about genetics and hormonal changes?
Our genes determine a lot of what our hair does, they determine when we gray, some people gray as early as 20 based on genetics alone.
Genes can also determine baldness especially in men, this is called male pattern baldness. In women, this is called female patterned baldness.
Hormonal changes also affect how your hair looks, where it grows and where it falls from. Women might start to see hair on their chin or chest due to an increase in testosterone and the hair tends to be coarser than the hair on our head. Go figure!
But are we ever too old to grow long hair?
The answer is no, depending on the maximal length that is determined by your genetics, “long hair” is still achievable BUT it will likely take longer.
Women of a certain age know that maintaining their overall health is the best thing they can do to keep themselves physically well.
Good health of course discourages hair loss and helps with retention because it allows you to grow the strongest hair you can. You should not wait until you are older to maintain a healthy lifestyle because the investment you make in your health now will affect you positively throughout your whole life.
While we cannot stop the aging process or even some of the changes that come with it, including thinning and a shorter hair growth phase, we can control a few things here and there making the idea of starting a long hair journey even when you are older not so far fetched.
What should you do to retain length as you get older
Knowing what you know now if you are an older woman and you want long hair you have to be mindful of your strands and how you are taking care of them.
I am sure that the difference between my grandma’s hair in her twenties and what it is now would be alarming but since I have only ever known her as grandma I can say that her hair practices have lead her to much success at retaining her length.
She almost never wears her hair out, she keeps her hair braided and her scalp clean. She never uses heat or styling tools or chemicals on her hair, and she always keeps her hair covered at night.
Knowing that I already have fine strands it will be interesting to see what my hair does as I age.
I do know this though, I cannot wait until then to focus on the upkeep of my overall health, I have to start right now especially if I want to keep having long healthy hair.