How to Combat the Negative Effects of Air Pollution on the Hair

Updated on July 8th, 2020
how to protect hair from air pollution

Air pollution can have disastrous effects on human beings. With increased cars on the road and heightened industrial activity, the world is on a crescendo of being polluted too polluted to come back. Already, because of air pollution, several effects manifest in the form of global warming.

On an individual level, pollution can have several damaging effects on the human body. One of the worst to get affected is the hair. Air pollution can cause hair loss, brittleness, dullness, and make the hair lackluster with almost 4.2 million premature deaths [1] attributed to air pollution.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to make your hair shiny and full of vigor again.

Some common issues that hair faces because of the pollution and the easiest methods to rectify are

Hair Dryness

Air pollution and particulate matter (PM 2.5) can make your hair dry [2]. This happens because hair becomes progressively drier by giving up moisture to combat the heat that the pollutants generate in your hair.

These pollutants can cause your hair to become dehydrated. Among other problems, it makes the hair frizzy, brittle, and dry.

  • The best solution for this issue is to care for your scalp carefully. 
  • The easiest way is to use hair masques that help in moisture retention. 
  • You can add moisturizing to your daily routine to make the scalp moist. This will reduce the dehydrating effects of air pollution. 
  • Apart from that, there’s nothing better than drinking water. Hydration [3] has several benefits, one of which is protecting the hair follicles by moisturizing your scalp. Oiling your hair at least twice a week can help too.

If you have issues such as general buildup, irritation, redness, or increased sensitivity, you need to step up your scalp care regime because excess buildup can damage the hair due to the inflammation around the hair follicle. Over time, it can cause scalp inflammation.

If your scalp develops any form of diseases that cause intense itchiness, you should consult a doctor for medical intervention.

[Also ReadHome Remedies for Treating Dry Hair ]

Damaged Hair Texture

Apart from making the hair dry, the pollutants can contribute to the hair becoming brittle. Over time, this brittleness becomes worse and damages the hair [4] texture. As the texture worsens, the strands thin. This has a cascading effect because thin strands of hair fall easily, leading to severe hair fall.

Pollution can suck out the natural oils in the hair. This creates a frizz that is not easily addressed normally.

Damaged hair texture affects the scalp as well. Using a scalp scrub at least once a week will remove any buildup of pollution, dead skin cells, oil residue, and any product that you use for your hair. A weekly exfoliant is one of the best ways to care for your hair.

It would help if you spent some time understanding your scalp well. Not every scalp scrub suits every hair type. 

Using topical antioxidants will help in replenishing the damage to your hair. Using the right hair serums will help in building a protective layer between your hair and the pollutants. Air pollution and its effects build up from a form of oxidative stress.

Using antioxidants mitigates this. Ideally, you should choose products that include vitamins C and E.

Apart from that, the more you expose your hair to the sunlight and polluted hair, the worse it becomes. Try to cover it as much as possible. If things get really worse, you always have platelet-rich plasma therapy as a medical intervention.

[Also ReadNatural Remedies For Dry & Damaged Hair]


Dandruff is some form of dead skin cells. The drier your hair gets, the more aggravated dandruff becomes. As your hair is exposed to pollution, dandruff will increase to compensate for the damage to your hair. 

The easiest way is to get a shampoo that combats dandruff. A good shampoo will mitigate the negative effects of pollution and cleanse any detrimental debris and strands from your scalp. The right shampoo will also leave behind beneficial ingredients such as healthy oils and antioxidants.

These help seal your hair’s cuticle and protect it from further damage. 

If the situation aggravates, you must consult an expert to deal with the problem effectively.

[Also ReadNatural ways to get rid Of Dandruff  ]

Premature Balding

While normal hair fall is natural, extensive hair fall [5] can end up in baldness. Damage to the hair such as frizzy hair, damaged scalp, debris buildup, and weak hair strands contribute to balding. But, just because your hair is falling, doesn’t mean it’s from pollution.

There are a lot of reasons that hair falls. These include stressors, diet and exercise, and lifestyle changes. But, if you have prolonged exposure to pollutants, air pollution can significantly contribute to hair fall. 

The simplest way is to use head caps and hats to protect the scalp from being exposed to the polluted air. But, because you can’t completely eliminate the negative effects of pollution, you need to neutralize free radical damage from the inside. The simplest way to do that is to take collagen supplements.

It would help if you ate foods that have plenty of antioxidants, including vitamins C and E. Hair is mostly the protein Keratin and structural lips. For the body to build keratin, it needs several amino acids, many of which are part of collagen peptides.

The most common amino acid in Keratin, Proline, is found in collagen peptides as well. If you ingest these amino acids, they help in maintaining natural levels. Amino acids build Keratin and Keratin, in turn, acts as the building blocks for cells’ membranes. Overall, it improves the production of Keratin and, by extension, your hair.

Collagen supplements are a great source of antioxidants and support the body’s ability to mitigate the damage that free radicals perpetuate. Once you take care of your hair from the inside, it is simply a matter of taking care of your scalp from the outside.

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