Hair loss is often a hot topic of discussion, affecting around two-thirds of men under the age of 35 according to reports. With almost 85% of men losing a significant amount of hair after the age of 50, the cause is predominantly genetic hair loss conditions. More recently research has also looked into the effects of pollution as a potential trigger for hair loss. Pollutants with the strongest evidence for public health concern, include particulate matter (PM), ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). We are more aware of the health effects of ambient air pollution according to a World Health Organisation article. As a result, there is also a greater understanding of how air pollution affects hair quality.
Genetics playing a key role in hair loss. But there remains a significant number of environmental factors that can contribute to thinning and damaged hair. Maybe the most significant environmental factor being the effects ambient air pollution has on hair quality.
Because hair is open to the elements, often unprotected, it’s susceptible to air pollution damage. As these pollutants build up, they can cause the scalp to become inflamed. As a result, skin can become irritable, hair becomes dry, dull and brittle. Exposed to this airborne gaseous mix the hair loses moisture faster. This leads to dehydration of your hair. As a result, the hair strands become brittle and the ends can split.
Living in an urban area exacerbates the effects of everyday pollutants in the air, such as soot, dirt, dust and gases and being close to or working near factories puts you at a higher risk of these negative effects.
Study suggests a real link to hair quality
A new study – presented at the 28th European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology Congress – exposed cells from the human scalp to various concentrations of ambient particulate matter, or air pollution, like fine dust and diesel particulate. Results showed that the presence of air pollution reduced levels of β-catenin – the protein responsible for hair growth and retention. The more pollutants the cells were exposed to, the bigger this impact seemed to be.
“Our research explains the mode of action of air pollutants on human follicle dermal papilla cells, showing how the most common air pollutants lead to hair loss”. Lead researcher, Hyuk Chul Kwon from the Future Science Research Centre in the Republic of Korea, said.
Avoiding hair damage
In reality you cannot walk around in a bubble and it is near impossible to avoid some degree of air pollution. That said, there are a few things that can help to reduce exposure, starting with the home. Ensure your house is well ventilated but keep windows that face high-traffic areas closed. Here are a few more useful everyday tips to reduce your exposure to air pollutants.
Wearing a hat
Maybe the easiest, most obvious way to protect your hair from air pollutants is by wearing a hat. In some instances hats are required for work and not only as a fashion statement. They actually can serve a purpose; protecting your hair and scalp from airborne particles and toxins can help to preserve your hair quality, texture and shine. On a similar matter it can also help to wear sunglasses that shade your eyes and face from the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Hydrate your hair
Staying hydrated is so important in general for your health and well-being. This obviously also applies to your hair as well as your skin. Drinking plenty of water during the day is recommended, with the suggested intake being two litres for a man or woman. Pollution, combined with many other environmental factors, has a detrimental effect on your hair, resulting in dry, brittle hair, split ends and a dry scalp. Besides drinking plenty of water there are hydrating masks that moisturise and strengthen the hair’s natural hydro-lipid layer. They coat the hair shaft to help keep it hydrated.
Deep conditioning treatments
These can be used before any damage has been caused, or to try and reverse the look of ageing, dry or weak hairs. Masks and deep conditioning treatments can be used routinely, to maintain the shine and good looks of healthy hair. Conditioners penetrate the hair shaft to repair damaged hairs by hydrating the hair shaft. In addition to the air quality we can also damage our hair by using too many strong products to colour and curl the hair too often.
Taking care of your hair from the inside
A healthy, balanced diet can go a long way to protecting your hair and keeping it looking healthy and strong. Your diet may be able to reduce the risk of dry hair and scalp and even split ends. For example, having a range of superfoods in your diet can be a good start to healthier-looking hair. You cannot control your genetics but you can go a long way to controlling outside influences. Having a poor diet can result in lank and lifeless hair made worse by air pollutants.
Start with a free hair check
If the environmental consequences of air pollution aren’t enough to worry you, along with acute medical conditions. Then, perhaps seeing your hair deteriorate and fall out might be a good place to start.
A hair consultation can be the first step to diagnose your hair loss condition. Your assessment will take into consideration your natural hair characteristics along with your age, family hair loss history and overall health. Hair loss patterns can manifest themselves in different ways, from diffuse thinning patterns to male and female pattern hair loss.
Treatments can help to preserve and improve the quality and growth of your hair. With three FDA approved hair loss treatments currently available for men and women. Prior to starting any treatment first consult a hair restoration specialist. With so many products on the market it can be hard to decide which is best for your hair loss condition.