Hair stylist shares practical tips

I don’t know what I’d do without my friend and hair stylist, Kelly Dowhan. A professional with more than 30 years of experience, Kelly is passionate about helping her clients look their best.  She enjoys researching current hair and clothing fashions, and is especially interested in proportion, hair and skin tone, and practicality when it comes to hair and clothing fashions.  I recently sat down with Kelly to discuss how to age with finesse*.

Q: Kelly, what are the most important things women can do to keep their hair healthy as they age?

A: The most important thing a woman over 40 can do to keep her hair in the best shape is to make sure she’s getting all the right nutrients and enough sleep for her body to produce healthy hair and skin. This would also include exercise. Most of the demise of a woman’s hair, once she enters into peri-menopause and menopause, is due to hormone changes. This can cause hair to lose its luster, become wiry and thin, not to mention the obvious: grey. Diet and exercise can often delay and lower the impact and signs of aging and the inevitable decline of hormones. 

Additionally, take a moment and reassess your hair type and make sure you’re on target.  Are you still treating your hair with the same type of products you used in your twenties and thirties? If your hair has changed, you should change your products.

Shampooing tip (this is a biggie): “Wash the scalp, not the hair. Condition the hair, not the scalp.” When shampooing, tip your head upside down and apply the shampoo onto the scalp by going in at the base of the hair shaft. Two shampoo applications will be necessary: one from the forehead and temples working back, and one from the nape up to the crown. Don’t work the shampoo through the rest of the strands; the gentle rinse of soapy water passing through will do the job. Only apply conditioner to the dry ends, never near the scalp or around the hairline. 

Q: What’s the biggest mistake women make with their hair as they age?

A: TOO BIG!!!  Rein that baby in. 


Q: What are your three top tips for looking our best at any age?

A: “Shower, Shampoo and Shine!” Look like you care. Get up. Get ready for the day. Do your hair. Put on a little make up — especially lipstick (not too dark as you get older; it can look harsh). 

Regarding the “Shine,” pick out something cute to wear — not just/only “comfortable.” One thing I’ve noticed is that many people in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s tend to wear the same clothes for years –like ten, fifteen, twenty years. This is certainly noble and very practical, but it’s one of the things that can really make a person look, well, kind of stale. 

Newer fabrics may be one of the reasons people don’t rotate their wardrobe as often as they should. Some people want to wear items until they wear out, but, let’s face it; some of these fabrics are so indestructible they could out live us all. And because we don’t want to give away a perfectly good item, we end up with huge outdated wardrobes.

To avoid this, make a pen mark on a tag inside the garment or on a notepad, noting the date you bought the item — like you might do with kitchen spices. Do an occasional assessment of your small, but wonderful wardrobe, looking for items that may not yet be worn out, but have worn out their welcome. Aim for a small, steadily overturning, current set of clothes (which, by the way, makes packing a breeze).

My hair/fashion finesse level: 
Novice     Advanced beginner     Competent        Proficient        Expert         

 What’s your hair/fashion finesse level?

*finesse (skill, flair, grace elegance, poise, assurance)