This is something I’ve been wondering quite a bit as well.
I noticed both my grandmothers had curly hair – and I wondered if they were born with curls or if their hair just got curlier as they aged.
Is there a science to it?
Or is it just a coincidence?
In this post, I will talk to you about why old ladies have curly hair – and the possible reasons their hair turned curly!
Let’s dive in!
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1. It’s genetics
I must rule out the most obvious reason – they may have curly hair.
It’s quite natural not to notice curly hair when it’s longer because most women tied their hair in ponytails or hair buns back in the day.
It’s easier to maintain when hair is tied back.
And once people grow older, they don’t want to spend several minutes doing their hair – maybe their hands aren’t as dextrous or flexible, or they’re just tired and want something low-maintenance.
Either way, most old ladies cut their hair short, and that’s when we noticed that they had curls all along; it’s just that we never noticed it before because it was long and tied up.
2. Hormonal changes
During menopause, a lot of hormonal changes occur.
Some women also notice their hair color becoming darker or lighter – I’ve covered this before in my blog post on how red hair fades with age.
These hormonal changes (changes in estrogen levels) can impact the hair texture and lead to entire alterations of the hair follicles, thus making hair wavier or curlier.
It’s possible, for sure.
3. It may just be more frizzy
Our sebaceous glands stop producing as much oil/sebum as we age.
This means that hair that once looked silky and glorious can now look frizzy and dry and look more curly – even though it might be the same hair texture.
This frizzy appearance can make the hair look more dense and bulky – giving it that curly look.
4. Hair loses its natural elasticity
As we age, our hair does begin to lose its elasticity.
I talk about hair elasticity in this post.
It’s the natural tendency of your hair to return to its original shape after it’s been stretched or pulled.
Because we lose hair elasticity as we grow older, our hair can look more stretched, wavy or curly.
5. Environmental factors
Everything we do to our skin and hair eventually shows.
If we don’t wear sunscreen – we can accumulate skin damage like more wrinkles and freckles.
If we constantly use heat on our hair or keep styling it profusely – then this wear and tear can damage our hair and change our overall texture.
These factors may contribute to changes in curl pattern over the years.
6. You’re looking at a perm
I’ve covered a post here on how to tell the difference between curly hair and a perm.
But believe it or not, many hairstylists convince old ladies to get perms.
Since many older people generally cut their hair to keep it short – they sometimes want a change.
And perming their hair is a nice change – so many old ladies do, in fact, get perms.
It’s cute, new, and something different – not to mention it makes their hair look more voluminous.
7. Loss of protein causes hair structure to change
Like the points above, hair loses protein as we grow older.
Our hair is made of a protein called Keratin.
And this protein loss grows steadily as we grow older.
These proteins contribute to the strength and flexibility of the hair shaft. As they diminish, the hair may become more porous and prone to adopting a curlier texture.
This is a bit of a stretch, but this point has some merit, so I wanted to throw it in!
If you’re not seeing an old lady rocking a perm, it could just be curly due to all the other reasons I’ve mentioned above.
I hope this helps answer your question!