The Biggest Misconception Women Over 40 Have About Their Hair, According to Better Not Younger Founder Sonsoles Gonzalez
Andie MacDowell and Jodi Foster made headlines when they showed up to the 2021 Cannes Film Festival with heads of gray hair.
Their salt and pepper and icy white shades are gorgeous, respectively, but their choice to end the maintenance of dyeing their hair marks a shift in the haircare space. While millennials have long been the ideal customer for virtually every haircare brand that has launched in recent years, brands like Better Not Younger are leading the age-positive hair movement, with products and formulas that cater to the haircare needs of women over 40.
Founded by beauty industry veteran Sonsoles Gonzalez, Better Not Younger's products are designed to enhance thinning, dry hair, while simultaneously balancing the scalp to improve the quality of hair growth. A few standouts from the line include a multitasking hair and scalp serum, purple shampoo for gray and white hair, and thickening spray that's both a treatment and styling product.
"For me, hair improvement starts with your scalp. I'll never promise to make you grow your hair back, but I do promise that your hair will grow better, and you may slow down the shedding — and that's a real need in the marketplace." Gonzalez says of Better Not Younger's products.
Ahead, Gonzalez shares how outdated beauty industry standards inspired her brand, the biggest misconception women have about aging hair, and more.
How did your personal experience in the beauty industry inspire you to start Better Not Younger?
I worked in big corporations for many years at Procter & Gamble and L'Oréal. I was always so surprised at how the industry is so focused on the younger population and all the products and marketing briefs were geared to women aged 18 to 44. I always joked about what happens to women after that. Like do they just disappear at 45? Fast forward a few years when I left the corporate world and decided I was going to start my own company. I immediately thought about my insight into industry, and the fact that it has been so focused on millennials and youthfulness as the only standard of beauty. I was seeing how my own body, skin and hair were changing, and thought there has to be a better solution. And that's how Better Not Younger came to be.
In recent years, a number of age-positive skincare brands have launched. Why do you think haircare is lagging?
Traditionally, the industry has always focused on covering grays. However, 100% of women will tell you their hair has changed and doesn't feel the same as they've gotten older and they don't understand why. I think haircare has lagged is because there's not an understanding of what's going on with hair in general. Also, companies have been so focused on the most visible signs aging like wrinkles, dryness, and gray hair that they haven't fully thought through what else could be effecting the hair beyond the grays.
Did you experience any roadblocks because you wanted to launch a brand that doesn't cater to millennials?
There were roadblocks on so many levels. On one side, people were saying the brand is just a marketing gimmick because there's no science behind the ingredients in the products, which is wrong. We're starting to get more and more consumer data and clinical studies to prove it. The second issue was the media. We would pitch the brand to magazines and they would say they couldn't talk to old women in their publications because it would turn off the younger reader. I would think to myself, if anything, the older population is who still reads physical magazines. I think that conversation is starting to change. We started this brand two and a half years ago, and during this time we've seen a number of brands come out and talk about menopause.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about aging hair?
The biggest misconception is that people see a change in their hair, but they don't think it's reversible. It's very sudden, whereas I think our skin changes are a little more subtle. You start seeing changes around your eyes and then frown lines. With hair, you start getting a few grays, and then three years will go by, and boom: you have a ton of gray hair. When perimenopause and menopause hits, the drop in estrogen can cause so many changes like thinning hair, dry hair, and shedding. People believe they can't do anything about it, but you can. You can start taking preventative measures earlier, maybe in your 30s, so you won't go through such drastic changes. Hair loss is one area in particular that people think you can't treat. It's really hard to grow hair back, but that doesn't mean you can't help prevent hair loss and help the quality of your hair growth.
VIDEO: This Haircutting Technique Adds Crazy Volume — and Requires No Scissors
Shop Better Not Younger Products
Superpower Fortifying Hair & Scalp Serum
Packed with skincare-favorite and plant-based ingredients, Better Not Younger's lightweight serum helps to nourish, soothe, and stimulate the scalp to create the optimal environment for hair growth.
To shop: $47; sephora.com
License to Curl Curl Revival Boost Spray
This convenient spray helps rehydrate and reshape curls in-between washes. It includes a cocktail of hydrating ingredients such as natural fatty acids, honey, and rice amino acids to nourish and lock in moisture
New Dawn Activated Charcoal Scalp Cleanser
While many scalp cleansers rely on physical exfoliation, Better Not Younger's formula is powered by activated charcoal and AHA acid to lift buildup and minimize clogged pores. Use the massaging application to give your scalp a deep clean once or twice a week to relieve dry, itchy scalps and create the best possible environment for hair growth.
For instant volume and fullness, spritz this thickening spray on damp roots post-shower or on dry second day hair that's falling flat.
Silver Lining Purple Brightening Shampoo for Grey & White Hair
You've probably heard that using purple shampoo is a must if you have blonde hair — the same goes for white and silver hair. This shampoo specifically formulated for gray tones keeps brassiness out and moisture and shine in. What's more, it's packed with thickening and strengthening ingredients to prevent breakage and fallout.
To shop: $27; ulta.com
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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