Protecting against pollution
While the pollution from city living, industry and even cigarette smoke might seem to be ubiquitous, there are steps you can take to limit the damage these destructive molecules can have on your hair.
Rock hats and scarves
The most basic frontline protection you can give your hair from outdoor pollution is to simply don a hat or a scarf when you head out.
After discovering high levels of hair contamination in tests on motorists exposed to polluted air, scientists in Milan advised testees to cover their tresses with scarves or hats when out and about. So, if you have a new 'do you just have to flaunt, you can always remove the headgear when you get inside the building.
Beware the smoke
Stay away from tobacco smoke. The Milanese tests showed smokers have some of the highest levels of pollution residues on their hair and scalp, rivalling people whose jobs keep them outside in traffic all day long. Even if your hair is covered while you or associates smoke, the pollutants contained in cigarette and cigar fumes are readily inhaled, making their way into the bloodstream and eventually to the hair – even before it's left the scalp.
Wash your hair regularly
Hair is very absorbent, adsorbent stuff; a lot of stuff likes to soak into it and a lot of stuff likes to stick onto it. If you've ever had to scrub tobacco odour out of your hair after a party, then you know firsthand how hair will pick up – and hold tightly to – whatever contaminants it gets exposed to, even after just a few minutes of immersion. And lest we forget: this is the same material that was used to clean up the sea after the last big oil spill. Imagine the cumulative effects of daily exposure on a grand scale, to all kinds of pollutants floating in the atmosphere...
Scan the label for anti-pollution ingredients
When the sunlight hits all the hydrocarbons floating around in polluted air, they start converting oxygen molecules into oxyradicals which attack, oxidise and degrade the hair.
Cinnamic acid is used in sunscreens to protect skin from oxidative damage and can be found in hair products for that purpose, too.
Exactly how it protects is unknown – scientists think it either prevents these oxyradicals from forming in the first place, or blocks their ability to damage the hair. Either way, test after test shows it works!
Benzoic acid, which works as a free radical scavenger, inactivates the unstable chemicals which attack your hair. Widely manufactured for use as a preservative in the food sector, this compound also abounds in nature.
Used to seal buildings against damage from ultraviolet radiation and pollution, silicones can offer the same protection to the hair.
The new generation of keratin ingredients, keratin isolates create a film which adheres to the strand for much longer than earlier proteins, forming a protective shield over the hair. They even have antioxidant properties. The combination of these plusses allows them to ward off menaces from both pollution and sunlight.
Lisa Battaglia at Bottica.com
DHA Hair Care Experts