Improve dry and wiry hair after 50

  • Understand how hair changes at menopause
  • Update your shampoo to alcohol-free
  • Washing your hair less often
  • Avoid very hot water
  • Use a conditioner without silicon
  • Try a deep moisturizing treatment monthly
  • Understand how a serum works for unruly hair
  • Apply a protective product if you use styling tools
  • Get a cut based on how your hair grows
  • Trim your hair often to remove dry ends
  • Improve your diet and stop smoking

How hair changes at menopause

After menopause women see many changes.  And the most noticeable changes are to our skin and hair.

If you’ve always had hair that tended towards being dry, then after 50 you will probably find your hormonal changes have made things worse.  That’s because all over your body, including your scalp, you are now producing less of the oils that keep skin and hair smooth and shining. 

As your hair goes gray, this new less-pigmented hair will tend to be coarser than your other hair.  That means that your sebaceous glands at the root now need to moisturize a thicker hair shaft.  So your gray areas will tend to be even drier than the rest of your hair.

Signs you need to change hair products. Here are a few of my favorites:

Change your shampoo and conditioner after age 50

Have you noticed recently that your hair is getting more difficult to style? Does some hair simply refuse to lie the way you want it to?  Do you have hair that just springs up whatever you do to it?   Or have you gone partially or completely gray?

All these are key signs that your hair now needs special attention.

Most of us find a favorite shampoo and conditioner and stick to those for years. 

That family-size shampoo that is such good value may in fact not be quite such good value as it used to be.

I would urge you to look at the wide variety of hair products that are available today.  Shampoos, conditioners and other hair preparations have come on leaps and bounds in the last decade.

No longer are specialist recipes just aimed at teens and young people.  Science and experimentation has filled the shelves with many items to help you control wiry and dry hair after 50.

I love the Aveda Nutriplenish range of hair products including Aveda Nutriplenish shampoo (see the inset pictures).

I’m also a fan of Redken’s Shampoo with Argen Oil (at Amazon).

Softly waved highlighted blond hair on woman of 50

How often should you wash dry hair over 50?

To shampoo or not to shampoo that is the question!

All my life I have struggled with flat greasy hair that had to be shampooed daily to look good.  Then after 50 I noticed I could go a couple of days without washing my hair.  Then at sixty I found that my hair actually looked better on the third day after shampooing than it did straight after a wash.  Now at over 70 I only wash my hair once a week and that’s to keep it smelling fresh and remove dirt.  I simply don’t need to remove excess oils.

OK, so that’s just me.  But I’m telling you this because if you’ve had normal to dry hair up until now, it’s likely your hair is crying out to be treated better these days.

A personal story

Let me give you another personal story.  When my mother was in her eighties I remember a particular visit I made to see her.  And I remember that visit because as soon as I saw her I exclaimed ‘Wow, Mummy, you look great!’  She used those old-fashioned narrow curlers to add a style to her shortish hair but on this occasion, instead of looking twisted half to death, her hair looked wavy and shiny.

Then my mother admitted with shame that yet again she’d made a silly error.  She’d picked up the conditioner bottle by mistake instead of the shampoo. 

(Nowadays I make such silly mistakes all the time so I know now how she felt!)

She was worried that she hadn’t ‘really washed’ her hair so it would be looking bad.  I tried to convince her that her hair looked the best I’d seen it in years.


Shampoo less

Today there is a growing movement of people who shampoo their hair much less frequently than most of us.  And they do it to keep their hair in good condition.

If you have wiry hair why not try washing your hair without shampoo a few times then assessing its condition.

Very dry hair looks better if you wash it once a week maximum. Not all those washes need include shampoo. You are mainly just rinsing off dust.

Of course dry shampoo is not for you as its job is to remove oil from the roots and scalp.

Does hot water harm dry hair?

Avoid hot water and use warm or cool water.  Hot water, a very hot shower, a high heat on your hairdryer and heated styling tools all damage hair. And the drier you hair is, the more easily heat damages it

Massage your hair with warm water as if using shampoo and carefully blot it dry on a towel.  Then just continue your usual hair drying and styling.  Try this three or four times to see if it helps tame your wiry hair.

This is just for testing.  Once you’ve made this initial test you can start to trial other methods too.  Just change one thing at a time to find what has the biggest impact on your hair.

You may find you’re so used to using a shampoo that you miss the lovely smell.  If so, just go back to shampooing and try the other tips in this article.

Of course, if you see an improvement in your hair after the no-shampoo test, then you could wash without shampoo alternate times or once a month.

Helen Mirren looking stylish with smooth blonde short cut with bangs
Helen Mirren on

Look for alcohol-free shampoos if you have dry hair

You need a shampoo that doesn’t strip your hair of more oils than necessary.  Look for alcohol-free shampoos as most hair professionals feel alcohol dries the hair.

Look for a good brand that states it is for dry and/ or gray hair.  Smaller newer brands may also offer other benefits such as being kind to the planet, animals or your scalp.  They may have exciting new ingredients.

Well-known brands have more money for scientific testing.

I just urge you to be open-minded and have some fun testing what works for your hair today.

Tresemme shampoo, conditioner and non-drying finishing spray are a good value pack on Amazon.

Best silicon-free conditioners for wiry hair

Always select a conditioner that states it is for your hair type. 

Aveda makes a range of conditioners that are organically based and free from chemicals that might harm your hair in the long term.  Suitable for all hair types especially dry and wiry hair.

Living Proof make a no frizz conditioner that is based on safe organic ingredients.  It works to block humidity that can make your hair spring outwards even after you’ve styled it.  It smooths your hair and repels dirt so you don’t need to wash your hair so often.  But, unlike many inexpensive or just plain old-fashioned conditioners Living Proof does not use silicon to achieve this fabulous smoothness and shine. Suitable for all dry hair.

Kathi Odom model at Bella Agency New York

Deep conditioning treatments for dry hair

Every few weeks you could supplement your haircare with a mask.

The Ouai range of gentle natural hair products has an ideal hair masque (on Amazon) to repair and shine dry hair. 

Apply the cream throughout the hair from roots to tips after washing.  Then wrap your head in a warm towel and relax on the sofa for a few minutes while the cream heats up and penetrates your hair.  Finally rinse out the mask completely using warm but not hot water.  Ooooh!

Your hair will be well-moisturized and will take a style better.

Serums that help gray and unruly dry hair

Serums can really help improve the look of wiry or unruly hair.  But they need to be applied correctly.

Take a look on Amazon at John Frieda’s best-selling Frizz Ease serum.

Use on damp hair after washing.  The serum can now repel dust and dirt.  Use a tiny amount.  Serums are best used warm so that they can spread thinly among all your strands of hair.  So put a dab (less than a pea sized blob) into the palm on your hand and put the other palm on top. 

Wait for a few seconds so the serum comes up to body temperature.  Now use the serum on each hand to lightly swish it through your hair.  Start at the ends and work up to about the middle of your locks.  Don’t use it on the roots.

Fine white hair in smooth pixie cut on elderly lady

Use serum instead of gel or hairspray

If you see odd unruly strands popping up throughout the day or the week you can use a very tiny amount of serum on your finger and thumb just to flatten those strands.

Serum is not a conditioner so a general application will only weigh down your hair and make it look tired if you apply it from the roots downwards through all your hair.  Used correctly serum will make your hair look and feel deliciously shiny and smooth.

Experiment with how much to use and how often to apply it.  All hair is different.

How to protect gray hair from heated styling tools

Serum lies on the outside of your hair strand so it can help protect it if you use heated tools for styling.  Some people use a little serum before blow drying to give a more polished look.

Finger-drying is ideal for gray hair. It manages the curve you want but you never overheat the strands. If you did, your fingers would make you shriek with pain. Fingers are your natural heat controls in life and hairstyling!

Woman over 70 with chic short white hair
Photo by Elena Ray at

How to style unruly older hair

While you might have struggled to get lift into the roots of your hair twenty years ago, this is unlikely to be the problem today.

In fact your hair will have lots of natural bounce. So concentrate on smoothing your hair.

If you smooth with a large circular brush keep the hairdryer far away from your hair and remove it completely as you reach the last inch. Just use the onward pull of the brush to twist the ends.

Your best friend is a great hairdresser.  Ask for a cut that works with, not against, your natural hair growth.  Then look at how the stylist manages your natural bounce and wave or curl. 

You may find your new cut can be managed just using your fingers or a comb.  This is the perfect.  It will keep your hair in good condition and take away the stress of blow drying and tonging.

Avoid chemical hairsprays after styling and use tiny amounts of gentle styling serum instead.

Improve dry hair by trimming ends

However carefully you style your hair the ends will always get split or frizzy after a month or two.

Perhaps you’re hoping that at our advanced age we can spend less at the hairdresser’s.

Sadly this is just not true. Most of us need very regular trims that just take off less than an inch of the ends of our hair, so our style always lies flat and looks smooth and well-managed.

Depending on how unruly or dry your hair is, reckon on a quick inexpensive trim every month. (Don’t pay for a restyle!)

Smooth salt and pepper hair on an older woman

How lifestyle and diet impact your hair over 50

Eat a diet that improves your hair condition.

Changes to your diet will not show up immediately in your hair.  But they will slowly improve the condition.

A varied diet with less fried food, more vitamin-rich vegetables and fruits and plenty of healthy oils such as olive oil used cold is what to aim for.  Don’t believe people that tell you there’s a single magic ingredient.  Dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, avocados, bananas, oily fish and olive oil should all be on your good hair diet.  That’s because these items will improve your general health as well as your skin, nails and hair.

City smoke

If you live in a city your hair, and skin, will suffer from the dust, dirt and toxins that surround you. So you’ll need more haircare than those of us living in the countryside. But studies show that, wherever you live, having a wood-burning stove means you are breathing in toxic microscopic particles too. So ensure your home has good ventilation – your skin and hair will thank you for it!

There’s one thing though that your hair will thank you for even more profusely.  Stop smoking.

Not only does smoking damage your general health and make recovery slower but it makes your hair smell bad. You won’t notice.  But unless you wash your hair daily everyone else will.

The images are from Pinterest and I have tried to show ownership. Let me know if one of these images is copyright to you and you wish it to be removed.

Links to suggested products usually give me a small commission if you click through and buy. The price remains the same to you. But you get my Thanks! for helping me maintain this site.

If you enjoy reading about hairstyles for older women then you’ll like these posts too:

20 stylish ways to wear long hair over 50

How to add body to flat hair

25 easy-care hairstyles

Are you well over 50 and love to look good? Take a look at The Mature Style Course. It takes you from too many clothes but nothing to wear through to a wardrobe of items that suit your figure type, coloring and budget.


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