Air pollution is everywhere. While we can sometimes see the effects of pollution in the air, such as smog or exhaust fumes, and we may hear warnings about low air quality, the primary concern for most people is breathing issues. However, the adverse effects of pollution on our body's largest organ, the skin, have been well documented.
We usually think of pollution as an outdoor issue, but research shows that the air in buildings and our homes can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air. Additional research suggests that most people spend as much as 90 percent of their time indoors, making indoor air even more detrimental to your health.
While our exposure to pollution is largely out of our control, an ever-growing body of research indicates that pollution has a significant impact on the health of your scalp and hair. Air pollution not only builds up on your scalp and hair, causing it to appear dull, flat, and dirty, but it can also contribute to more severe side effects, including hair loss.
Why is Pollution Bad For Hair?
Air pollution can affect your hair in several ways. For example, a 2019 study published in the US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health found that exposure to particulate matter, common air pollutants, accelerated the structural degradation of hair fibers.
The study found that air pollution decreased the protein levels found in hair follicle cells known as keratin. Keratin is essential for normal hair growth, hair regeneration, and overall hair health. The study also found that air pollution caused damage to the hair cuticle and that higher levels of pollution accelerated the degradation of the hair fibers.
In other words, when hair follicle cells are exposed to common air pollutants, such as general particulate dust and the byproducts of burning fossil fuels, their ability to grow new hair is impeded. Additionally, the higher the levels of air pollutants, the more hair loss that occurs.
Air pollution has also been shown to dull the color of your hair. Just as oxidative stress dulls our skin tone, oxidative stress from air pollution has a similar effect on your hair. Studies have found that free radical damage due to oxidative stress can cause your hair to lose color, gray, and even cause hair loss. While graying is usually a part of the aging process, the levels of oxidative stress that the hair follicle is exposed to are directly related to the amount of lost hair color.
Air pollution is composed of tiny particles and droplets, known as particulate matter. Over time, these small particles can build up on the hair and scalp. If not thoroughly removed, this buildup can significantly damage the hair follicles, leading to dandruff, irritation, and eventually hair loss. Air pollution can negatively affect your hair's appearance and impact the health of your scalp and hair follicles.
Oxidative stress from air pollution contributes to premature hair aging, similar to how it affects your skin. Premature aging of your hair is more than just turning gray, which is a normal part of the natural aging process. Premature aging of your hair also includes a general decrease in hair production due to the aging of the hair follicles. As the hair follicles age, they produce thinner and weaker hair strands, leading to visible thinning. Exposure to air pollution increases oxidative stress, which contributes to and speeds up the hair aging process.
Contact The Experts at Mane Image
Thinning hair and hair loss are common conditions. Air pollution is just one of the many factors that can cause or contribute to hair loss. If you are beginning to notice thinning hair or experiencing hair loss, the first step to finding a solution is to talk with a hair specialist. At Mane Image, our professional staff can help determine the potential cause of your condition and help you find the best solution. Contact us today and schedule your FREE initial consultation to learn more about what you can do to stop thinning hair and hair loss.