Here's why you need to protect your hair and scalp from pollution

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Anti-pollution skincare is not new. It’s been on the rise since several years ago, with environments becoming increasingly urbanised and polluted. Even in Singapore, the number two city in the world with the highest Green View Index (a rating that calculates the percentage of canopy coverage based on aerial images), pollution is unavoidable. Just think of all the vehicle emissions and the UV exposure we get, living near the equator. And not to mention how the dry season brings along with it the threat of haze from forest fires blowing in from our neighbouring countries.

While we protect our skin, we seldom spare a thought for our hair, which is as much exposed to the pollutants as our skin is. How does pollution affect our hair and scalp? Here are three things that happen:

1. Your hair becomes dull

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For one, pollution particles that settle on your hair can cause it to lose its shine. It’s all dirt, but the particulates are small enough to embed themselves in the hair cuticles. So if your shampoo is not able to efficiently remove all these particles, they are just going to build up and cause your hair to lose its natural shine. And no amount of hair serum or oil is going to work to restore its shine, because the products are just going to add on to the impurities in hair and weigh it down further, which gets us to our next point.

2. Your hair becomes frizzy, prone to breakage and may fall off

The pollutants not only make your hair look dull. They may prevent the hair cuticles from closing up, leading to frizzy hair. Frizzy hair, usually caused by open hair cuticles, happens when moisture (not the good kind) gets through to the core of the hair, gets absorbed, and the hair strand swells up. Add that to Singapore’s humid weather and you can now see why your hair just turns into an unruly mop once you step out of the house.

Plus, hair that is weighed down pulls at the hair follicles. And no matter how resilient your hair follicles are, there is a limit what they can take before eventually letting the hair strand fall out. The pollutants also damage hair, causing it to break off easily.

3. Your scalp health gets affected

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And there’s the problem of your scalp. Your scalp is skin too. So pollutants affect them roughly the same way it affects the skin on your face and body. Particulates can clog up hair follicles and, when not removed properly, lead to hair loss. Free radicals from pollutants can also affect your scalp health, causing dandruff and irritation. They can also lead to premature ageing, which can then accelerate hair loss.

So look for hair products that are rich in antioxidants and those that can help detox your scalp to protect your crowning glory from pollution. Here are five we like: