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Can Air Pollution Damage Your Hair?

According to the World Health Organization, more than 9 out of 10 people worldwide live in areas with too much pollution. You’re probably aware that air pollution isn’t great for your lungs, but have you ever thought about whether it could damage your hair? The answer is yes. Here’s how air pollution damages your hair and steps you can take to minimize the damage. 

Particulate Matter

Particulate matter comes from a variety of sources like dust, pollen, cars, power plants, and factories. These particles do a great job of sticking to your hair. And they can even make it inside of the hair shaft, damaging your strands both inside and out. This can change the texture of your hair, cause it to become dull, increase sebum production, and even lead to breakage. 

Unfortunately, a vicious cycle can develop in which your hair becomes more oily, allowing particulate matter to stick better, which then leads to even more oil production and so on. All that particulate buildup weakens your hair and may even cause it to break off at the root. 

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

You can be exposed to these pollutants from coal, gas, car exhaust, asphalt roads, wood smoke, tobacco smoke, and meat cooked at high temperatures, such as grilling or charring. As you can guess, they’re pretty hard to avoid, particularly in cities. 

Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) also easily stick to the surface of your hair and infiltrate your hair shaft, damaging both the cuticle and the protein that makes up your hair. Additionally, PAHs combined with UV rays cause oxidative damage to your tresses.

Air Pollution and Hair Loss

Clearly, losing your hair altogether is the worst thing that could happen to it. But tragically, air pollution has been linked to just that. That’s right; air pollution could be responsible for your hair falling out and not regrowing. 

While there are many causes of hair loss, researchers have recently found that air pollution is one likely cause. That’s because pollutants in the air have the ability to both damage your hair follicle and lower the levels of proteins your hair needs for growth. And unfortunately, studies have shown that the more air pollution people were exposed to, the lower those protein levels dropped. 

So What Can You Do?

Air pollution is obviously a big problem for your hair (not to mention your health!), but what can you do about it? After all, air pollution is everywhere! 

While it is practically impossible to escape exposure to any air pollution, these steps will help. 

  • If you know you’re going to be in an area with particularly high levels of air pollution, consider covering your hair with a hat or scarf to help protect it from exposure. 
  • Always apply a UV protectant spray, too, which will help prevent some of the oxidative damage associated with PAHs. 
  • Increase your intake of antioxidants to help remove some of the pollutants and protect your hair from damage.
  • If you’ve been in an area with high levels of air pollution, consider using an apple cider vinegar rinse to help remove buildup.
  • Look for products that help replenish the protein your hair needs. For example, every bar of Viori contains hydrolyzed rice protein to help strengthen your strands.
And remember, preventing damage from air pollution isn’t just limited to what you can do to your hair. We should all do our part to reduce air pollution. That’s why Viori is committed to using all-natural, eco-friendly, and sustainably-sourced ingredients. Learn more about our values here.

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