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Some bad news: It’s nearly impossible to avoid pollution. No matter your city’s population, thanks to particulate matter from traffic, industrial facilities, and UV and infrared light, you’re exposed to contaminated air every day.
While pollution has some serious effects on the environment, your health, and can even change the appearance of your skin, the free radicals created by pollution and UV light can also mess with your hair, too.
According to a 2015 study conducted by a hair transplant clinic in Mumbai, India, a country with reported high pollution, poor air quality is linked to scalp redness, itchiness, oiliness, dandruff, and even hair loss. Researchers dubbed this “sensitive scalp syndrome,” linking the symptoms to air pollution.
"Small particles in polluted air can damage hair by causing irritation and dryness to the hair and scalp,” says board-certified dermatologist Dr. Shari Sperling. Pollution can also cause oxidation, the biggest culprit of faded hair color.
The silver lining: Protecting your hair from pollution is easier than trying to do damage control after it’s dry, brittle, and dull. Here, four simple tips to keep hair smooth, shiny, and vibrant.
Wear Your Favorite Hat
Whether it’s straw-brimmed or a classic baseball cap, Dr. Sperling says that putting a hat on before you head out will keep the particle matter in the air from touching hair.
While shampooing schedules can vary depending on hair type and texture, scaling back on how often you wash your hair can actually limit pollution damage. Dr. Sperling recommends washing every other day. “Washing too much removes oils and makes the scalp more dry,” she says. “You want to protect the scalp and hair by keeping it moisturized.”
Ease Up on Styling Products
"Avoid applying thick creams and grease to the hair when exposed to pollution because they may attract these substances to stick to the hair more," says Dr. Sperling. In addition to switching to lightweight styling products, include a weekly conditioning treatment into your hair care routine. The extra moisture will work to counteract the drying effects of poor air quality.
Use Pollution-Fighting Hair Products
Just like how sunscreen shields your skin, pollution-fighting haircare products can act as a barrier between your hair and the damaging particles in the air. Opting for a multitasker that offers pollution protection covers all of your bases — and streamlines the styling process.
The One Pure Mist is a heat-protecting spray that also blocks UV and pollution damage. With a plant-based formula void of harsh chemicals, the mist preps and protects hair, so it’s clean, pure, and shiny — no matter the current air quality.