How to protect hair from air pollution if your city has poor AQI

Air pollution not only affects your lungs and skin. Your hair can also get damaged. Here are some helpful tips to protect your hair from air pollution.
Woman with beautiful hair
Safeguard your hair from air pollution. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Published: 2 Nov 2023, 08:59 am IST
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It will be time for fireworks soon, as Diwali is approaching. But several cities are already getting affected by air pollution. People who get exposed to air pollution often complain about cough, itchy eyes, breathing issues and dull skin. Your hair can also take a hit due to air pollution. They can lose shine and become really dry. So, make sure to protect your hair from air pollution.

The air quality in big cities, including Delhi, has been pretty bad. As per the Central Pollution Control Board, it was in the “very poor” category earlier this week. That’s because the overall air quality index (AQI) stood at 373.

Effects of air pollution on hair

You need to take care of your overall health, but don’t forget about your hair.
Pollution, in the form of airborne particles, toxic gases and chemical residues, can wreak havoc on your hair, says Dr Sonali Kohli, Consultant Dermatology, Sir HN Reliance Foundation Hospital, Mumbai.

Woman exposed to air pollution
Air pollution creates havoc for your hair. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Here are the side effects of air pollution on hair:

1. Dryness and brittle hair

Pollution can strip the natural oils from your hair, leaving it dry. It also becomes more prone to breakage due to loss of the oils.

2. Hair thinning

Hair thinning can happen due to many factors, with airborne pollutants making it to the list. They can clog hair follicles, leading to hair thinning and even hair loss.

3. Dull and lifeless hair

We might apply a lot of hair products to bring back shine and lustre. But air pollution can still rob your hair of its natural shine, leaving it looking dull and lifeless.

4. Scalp irritation

Harmful particles in the air can lead to an itchy and irritated scalp, potentially causing dandruff, which can be really stubborn and refuse to leave your side.

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Tips to protect hair from pollution

There are some healthy habits that you need to follow and look for ingredients that can help to combat pollution. Here’s what to do:

1. Antioxidants

Look for ingredients such as vitamins C and E in hair care products to combat the free radicals generated by pollution, reducing oxidative stress on your hair, says the expert.

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2. Hydrating agents

Aloe vera, hyaluronic acid and glycerin are all hydrating agents that can help to retain moisture and combat hair dryness caused by pollution.

3. Natural oils

Go for natural oils like coconut oil, argan oil and jojoba oil to create a protective barrier on your hair. They will help to prevent pollutants from damaging your hair.

4. Proteins

Proteins like keratin help to strengthen hair, making it more resistant to any kind of damage from air pollution, says Dr Kohli.

5. Shampoo and condition regularly

Go for a sulfate-free shampoo that is gentle on your tresses. Use it to cleanse your hair and scalp then follow it up with a nourishing conditioner to keep your locks hydrated.

Woman with dry hair
Cover your hair to avoid damage. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

6. Cover your hair

Before stepping out, consider wearing a hat or scarf to shield your hair from pollutants, especially on particularly polluted days.

7. Use protective products

Invest in hair serums or sprays that contain antioxidants and natural oils. These will help to create a protective shield against air pollution.

8. Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water to maintain your overall health and also to minimise hair dryness that be caused by air pollution.

9. Consume a nutrient-rich diet

Consume foods rich in vitamins and minerals to support your hair’s health from the inside out. So, start consuming leafy green vegetables, nuts and lean proteins.

By using the right ingredients and following these easy tips, you can maintain the health and beauty of your hair, even in the face of environmental challenges. Remember, a little love and care goes a long way in ensuring your hair remains strong and radiant, regardless of the pollution in your surroundings.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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